The Turret Castle and ‘People’

March 15, 2018

Turret Castle of Vernon and People Sculpture

Near the bridge on the Seine in Vernon, the turret castle dates back to the 12th century. Next to it, the modernity of a  sculpture in galvanized steel creates a strong contrast. This group called ‘People’ was granted to the town of Vernon by its designer, Olivier Gerval, in 1998.



March 6, 2018


Seen from Monet’s bedroom, these two imposing trees are yews. They were not planted by Claude Monet: they are older. He found them when he arrived at Giverny. They appear on old photos, although we don’t know of any pic that is from the eighteen eighties. The garden became the focus of photographers after its transformation by Monet and most photos are from the twentieth century. 

 Yews are extraordinary trees. They can live up to 1500 years. In our region of Normandy they are planted near churches in cemeteries. They were certainly symbolic and magic as well. Chapels dedicated to the Virgin were installed in some very old specimens.  

Monet’s two yews in comparison are young boys, only two hundred years old. But they’ve witness so many events, so many people paying a visit to Monet and later touring his garden that their memories would be amazing, if they were willing to share…

Giverny’s Church

February 19, 2018


It was lovely last week to see the snow covered roof of Giverny’s church. It’s unusual here and never lasts long. This may be the reason why snow looks lovely for the inhabitants of Monet’s village, because on the other hand it makes life more complicated. As snow is rare, nothing is organized for it, especially transportation. Kids don’t go to school anymore, trucks are not allowed to drive and shops don’t get fresh goods. Fortunately after a couple of days snow vanishes and life is normal again.  

Snow at Giverny

February 7, 2018


Some snow has fallen on Giverny! Claude Monet’s pond that will be graced with water lilies in summer is not frozen. It reflects the evergreen bamboos and the snow covered shrubs and trees around. The roots of the water lilies are dormant under the surface, waiting for warmer times to come. In the distance you can see the Japanese footbridge and its canopy of wisteria, all white for the moment. (Click for larger picture)

Giverny as Silent as a Cat

January 31, 2018


The little triangular roof you can spot in the distance is the bell tower of Giverny’s church. This cat is crossing the main road, chemin du Roy, without any fear from cars and buses. Sunset is a peaceful time in Claude Monet’s village, just like winter. 

In French the expression for ‘there isn’t a soul’ is ‘il n’y a pas un chat’, there isn’t a single cat. You could say ‘il n’y a pas âme qui vive’, not a living soul, but it is elevated language. 

Actually sunset and winter are the best time for cats to live their own life at Giverny, when the streets are theirs again. They all belong to somebody – no wild turned cats here, as it may be the case in cities, but cats roaming and exploring their territories.   


They are wonderful to look at. They are fabulously supple, bouncy, capturing with their eyes, nostrils and whiskers details we have no idea about. They stop unexpectedly in their walk, watching. They jump to the top of the wall, they walk along like a funambulist. They feel at home everywhere, including in Monet’s gardens.

Vernon Ever Green

January 1, 2018


Vernon’s motto is Vernon semper viret, Vernon ever green, and it is true that it rarely snows in the valley of the Seine. The last year a foot of snow fell on Giverny was in 2012… 

This is why it is inspiring to see these snow-covered fir trees in front of the Eglise Notre-Dame and the tourist information office. Do you like the red ones too? 

Whether it is mild, warm or ice-cold where you live, I wish you a happy New Year and all the best for you and your loved ones in 2018.