Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day Three: GIverny -- A Little Bit of Paradise

How can one be any happier than stepping into a bit of paradise, filled with flowers, water, and beauty?

On Friday, we headed to Giverny -- it was a flawless day. The sky was bright, with just enough puffy white clouds to make it seem all the more picturesque. Our destination was Giverny, home of Money and the inspirational site of his garden.

(For a wonderful post about Giverny and Monet -- among other things -- visit Linda at The Task at Hand.)

Personally, I was grateful that we just made it out of the city, given the drivers who always need to be in the lane they are not, and just cut in front of other drivers without using blinkers. I was very freaked -- especially in a borrowed car!

And the legendary motor scooters we heard so much about during the period after Diana died were everywhere. Two cars could be side by side and the scooter would go between. At least they wore helmets; the tons of bicyclists didn't.

The road to Giverny was lovely -- France is very unlike America in that there doesn't appear to be sprawl, with one city bumping up into another.

There is a town with a church steeple and town buildings (the boulangerie being a "must") and then farm land until another steeple marks the next town.

Giverny is really a little town in itself. (I always thought it was the name of Monet's house.) Charming as all get-out, but I'd hate to live there -- one would never get a breath of peace from the tourists.

Monet's home and garden were unbelievably beautiful and I think will be more so in another month when all the flowers that were just starting to hit their stride are in full bloom.

There was a good deal of pink (so I'll save some of the Giverny pix for Pink Saturday!). Wonderful poppies were a pinkish/purple color.

Beautiful old fashioned roses grew precisely, yet with an abandonment that made them almost look wild.

Jerry chatted with the gardeners about the poppies. I so admire the work they do to make this place such a haven.

To get to the lily pond, one crossed a tunnel under the road. And the water lilies that so inspired his paintings do not disappoint.

Even Monet's house was pink (and green), fitting beautifully into the springtime garden!

Here's a true story. At MSU we have a Japanese bridge inspired by the Monet's Garden bridge.

I'm told the designer discretely chipped a bit of paint from a visit to Giverny to match for MSU's bridge! (Both of these bridges are from Giverny, not MSU!)

Oh, to be here in July or August, when the summer heat and all that water have blended together for the perfect combination of colors. Yes, we were early, but it was still lovely.

Monet had a passion for Japan and its artists, and it was this passion that inspired him to build the bridge. Later, when we would go inside we would learn that he collected the work of Japanese artists Hiroshige and Utamaro and others and displayed many of them in his home. We saw a lot of them, and perhaps it was this that inspired me to purchase a Japanese print later in the trip at Vanves! (More on that later!)

It was a glorious day -- sunny, blue skies, puffy clouds. Jerry and I were snapping photos like crazy people (like all the other "crazy people" there!). Then someone took one of us!

My only disappointment about the garden was that we were still too early for the abundant lavender wisteria that is seen in all the postcards. Oh, well.

The house was interesting. Definitely "museum style," and I was a bit frustrated not to be able to photograph it. When you enter, you can go to either the dining room or the reading room (we chose that direction). It is blue and included the Japanese engravings and print collected by Monet between 1871 and 1926.

The studio living room was large, but all the furniture was shoved (gracefully) to the end of the room. Reproductions of his work hung on the walls, including the current point of exhibition. I couldn't decide if I thought that looked tacky or was interesting.

The bedrooms were very nice...... but what really knocked my socks off were the dining room and kitchen. The dining area was Jeanie Yellow, with more blue Japanese prints on the wall and a pristine white table cloth. Of course I loved it madly!
The kitchen had an enormous stove, racks of brightly polished copper and walls of dazzling blue and white tiles. (The paint on the trim and the tiles really clashed a bit -- not quite the right shades of blue -- but I still loved it.

Unfortunately, we couldn't photograph inside the house (so I bought a calendar!). But you could take photos of the gardens from the second story window. What a view! (Most of the photos above are from Monet Foundation. The large one of the stove is from Mae at Mae's Food.)

After, we walked about the village, capturing photos of hollyhocks against stone walls...

...delicately patterned lace curtains behind shuttered windows...

...and more flowers. Everywhere flowers.

We also went to the church cemetery where Monet was buried. It was fascinating to see an old French cemetery with beatuful stone and ironwork.

These ceramic pieces are often placed on tombstones in lieu of flowers. Beautiful but not my taste.

As we left, we stopped by a poster just to make sure Zoe got into the act. Joanne had suggested bringing her along. And I confess, as I'd look in my purse pocket, between maps and brochures, I would always smile to see her wings peeking out!

After driving through villages and towns, with their cobblestone streets and stone buildings, not to mention the beautiful rural French countryside with flocks of sheep...

I loved this guy...

And after a few misses, we hit a perfect spot for our picnic, overlooking the Seine at a charming town called La Roche-Guyon.

We were in the shadow of a chateau with a huge tower and lovely restaurant and cafe...

I'm sure the cafe's food was terrific, but nothing could have compared with our sandwich bought at the boulangerie this morning, apples and camembert, bread, croissant sticks, apricots and nuts.

And wine. Very nice wine (Chateau Haut-Balerac, Madoc 2003, a very good year!)

It was truly perfect.

As we returned home, we came in on the same stretch of underpass on which Diana died. Jerry knows someone who knew the doctor who stopped to help and was often interviewed after the accident. After seeing the motorbikes and how they drive around here, just the speed people drive, and then the pressure they must have been under, it was so very easy to see how that happened.

It was a grand day!

Things I learned today:

Madoc 2003 is a wine worth pursuing again!

The sprawl problem doesn't seem to be here. Villages and towns are not linked by strip malls and Wal-Mart.

Don't wear sandals to a place with stones and pebbles everywhere.

Parking in Paris is almost impossible. After Jerry dropped me off, it took him two hours to find a spot to park.


Annie said...

Oh my! Where to start first??? Sublime, Jeanie. I feel like I was actually there with you and the totally CUTE Zoe. Hugs, Annie

BONNIE K said...

This is the perfect way for me to take a vacation. I get to see all the beautiful things and go thru none of the hassle. I love it. You describe things so well.

anno said...


I guess if I couldn't be there myself, this was the next best thing.

Beautiful photos, lovely narrative accompaniment. Looks like a wonderful excursion. (Loved those sheep!)

~*~Magpie's Nest said...

another absolutely delightful post, thank you for taking us along on some of your adventures...I am enjoying it immensely!!! and must go back for another look :)

Beth said...

Oh, I would have felt like I had died and gone to flower heaven. Amazingly beautiful! Love all the pictures espiecally the first one of you. Make sure you back up all those pictures and they are priceless. Oh to be in Paris in the summer time.

ols1 said...

Oh Jeannie - it is just how I pictured it and now I have the pictures to visit whenever I get the urge - how utterly beautifully you described it - thank you so much for the beautiful pictures and for sharing with us how utterly wonderful your trip must be.

Oh said...

omg, where to begin? you caught so many images with the lighting just so...remarkable and I have a thousand questions about this and that and what you thought of things and how the wine tasted and the flowers...oh, the flowers!

Anonymous said...

ahhhhhhhh. A breath of fresh, French, country air. Lovely. Thanks for another day of vicarious travel, Jeannie. Just gorgeous.

beth said...

love the tour...
love your sheep better than mine...
and love seeing you so happy !

Herzblatt said...

What lovely pictures you show!!! I love France very much. But I don`t like their driving, too...It is absolutly dangerous and unbelievable!! Very often my heart sank into my boots when we drove through France and it is even much worse in South France...The people there have a hot temper....too hot for me...*lol*...
I think Paris is a city where only French and crazy people drive through....and never never with a new car...*lol*...
In Italy people drive nearly the same....In my opinion people on motorbikes there and in Italy are all tired of is terribly noisy...dirty and perilous.....and especially without a helmet.....
In Germany people drive very very fast on highways...but in cities or towns or villages most people drive with a normal speed except motorbikers.... I always was shocked when we were in France or Italy.
best wishes from a normal German driver..:-))

Herzblatt said...

Jeannie, me again...have watched the first two posts about Paris and can`t stop smiling about your wonderful lively descriptions....You are a very good observer!!!
And the most interesting thing is, that all the other European countries are very different....every country is an adventure and a new experience ...
And in France the South is absolutly different to the North or West and a lot of French people in the countryside call the people from Paris hectically and sniffy...:-))
I like them all but I think people from capitals are always a bit different to the rest of the nation...
Thank you for the great pictures and your very exciting stories!!!

paris parfait said...

Giverny is so lovely; glad you and Jerry enjoyed it and had a wonderful picnic, as well! xo

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I love France. I've always wanted to go to Giverny, but haven't made it there yet. You've really given me a yearning to go.

shoreacres said...

I've just looked and looked and looked. My favorite photos are of the Japanese bridge and the "green" photo - all light and growing things.

It would be interesting to know, now, in which season some of his paintings were made. How happy he must have been, to have surrounded himself with such beauty.

And thanks for the kind mention. I'm going to be sure to add your visit to the Monet blog so that people can have a look at the real thing!

Joanne Huffman said...

Giverny looks wonderful. And, how cool to see Zoe there!


Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

Can you imagine that the traffic in Malaysia is even worse than in France?!!
Your pics are awesome, as always! I am glad you enjoyed your jouney!


jet1960 said...

Wow! The countryside is so beautiful! Thanks for taking the time to share all the photos with those of us who may never get to go there!

One of my favorite of these pics-that of your lunch, lol. Even that looks like a photo from a French magazine.

Kristine said...

On my visit to France many years ago I missed Giverny. What was up with that? I won't make that mistake next time. Lovely post.

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