Biking along the Seine through the French countryside to the town of Giverny, it feels surreal to be in the landscape made famous by so many artists of the 1800’s. Pedaling through the hills, past quaint shops selling flower seeds and soap products to the house of Claude Monet, founder of the impressionist movement, I found myself lost amidst a cacophony of vibrant flowers and scores of water lily’s. Surrounded by the beauty of his gardens, it is easy to feel lost in a dream sequence, dancing a ballet in front of the backdrops found in so many of his paintings.
Born in 1840, Claude Monet is perhaps the most recognized founder of the impressionist movement. With the invention of paint tubes and smaller easels, Monet and his counterparts were able to leave the stiffness of studio paintings behind and paint outside in nature. The Paris-based group of painters not only painted new subjects, but also used a new technique that focused on portraying feeling and visual effects rather than details.
Monet made the town of Giverny his home in 1883 after passing by on a train ride. On the land he built flower gardens and a water garden that he painted in many works. He lived in the house until his death in 1926.
Giverny is an easy day trip from Paris. From the city center, take a RER train to Vernon. Once in Vernon you can take a bus or bike 5 kilometers. I recommend biking if you are able to really get to take in your surroundings. Navigating the town of Giverny is easy, as is usual in France the crowds will lead the way.
At Claude Monet’s home and gardens you can tour both his home and many gardens. Be sure to take your time enjoying the harmony and peace of the perfectly preserved landscapes. The nearby Giverny Museum of Impressionisms is also worth a visit.
An art buff’s paradise, Paris is rife with impressionist art. The musée de l’Orangerie is home to a powerful series of Monet’s water lilys. The musée d’Orsay also boasts a large collection of impressionist art.