Entries Categorized as 'Giverny'

Giverny’s Weekly Mass

January 29, 2016

giverny-church

Once a week, on Thursdays at 6.00 pm, a mass is celebrated in the church of Giverny. Everybody is most welcome, especially tourists, even if they are not Catholics, even if they don’t speak French, as long as they are respectful.

Expect locals to smile at you with some curiosity in the eyes. They are eager to know who you are and where you are from, but won’t ask.

The mass starts soon after the old bells stop chiming. There are two of them, a little one that has a high sound and a big one that is lower.

If you are like me, you will prefer not to sit on the first row of chairs, to mimic the faithfuls who know when to stand up or sit down. It feels good to be among them, because churches are not monuments only. Their stones retain all the faith of the humans who built them and prayed in them. The parishioners of today are their beating heart.

A Bakery at Giverny

January 15, 2016

bakery-givernyThis is big and good news at Giverny: a bakery has opened! It is located in the main street rue Claude Monet in the direction to the church on number 73 Bis.
The last one closed decades ago, so it is a joy to see a bakery again in this little village of 500 inhabitants.
Nothing means life in a village more than a bakery and a school.
The bakery’s name, Au coin du pain’tre, is a pun. Au coin du pain would mean To the Bread’s Corner, but with an additional ‘tre ‘ it reads To the Painter’s corner, an allusion to the painting destiny of Giverny. Logically, the shop sign is in the shape of a palette. Artisan boulanger means that breads and pastries are home made.

When the museums are open, so is also the bakery, 7 days a week from 7.00 am to 8.00 pm. The bakery is established in a lofty shop that used to be successively a garage for renting 2CV cars, an antiques shop, and lately a restaurant. There is room enough for tables and a nice walled terrace, where the Coin du pain’tre also serves light meals.

Christmas Time

December 24, 2015

christmas-tree-giverny

Next to the former railway station of Giverny-Limetz now converted into a ‘salle des fetes’ (community hall), the big fir tree proudly sports Christmas light garlands.

In winter, simplicity and peacefulness reign in the little village of Claude Monet, inhabited by 500 persons only.

631 000 visitors flocked to the water lily pond in 2015, from late March to early November.  Now that they have gone, it is like night after day, a time for relaxing and dreaming.

The Christmas tree shines for the Givernois (inhabitants of Giverny) and for the passersby driving on the Chemin du Roy.

Flowered Letters

October 4, 2015

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At Giverny in Rue Claude Monet, one of the mail boxes to send letters and postcards is located amid flowers.

In October, the helianthus are big enough to reach the height of the mail box.

Their yellow hues match the  official color of La Poste boxes.

Having to  make your way through the flowers to post your mail makes paying the bills just a little more fun.

An Invisible Pattern

April 25, 2015

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Seen on a map or from the windows of his home, Monet’s flower garden aligns straight lines that ressemble almost a grid. But because Monet raised the flower beds, an oblique look through the garden doesn’t reveal the walkways. Instead, it gives the feeling of an endless flowered meadow full of striking colors. Blues are made by forget-me-not, while tulips, fritillaries and pansies provide all the colors of the painters palette. (Click on picture to enlarge)

A Degas Exhibition in Giverny

March 29, 2015

degas-mdig.jpgA beautiful exhibition has just started at the Museum of Impressionisms Giverny. Through 80 works signed Edgar Degas, (oil on canvas, pastel, brass, etc) it questions the painter’s membership in the group of the impressionists. His daring compositions, his motifs taking in the present day life, his free brushwork, last but not least his involvement in the organization of the impressionist exhibitions of the times make him an impressionist.

But Degas rejected open air painting, had a classical training, and hated the word impressionist itself. So was he, or not, an impressionist painter? Make your own opinion exploring this outstanding exhibition that displays many famous masterpieces, as well as less known works uncluding rarely seen Degas landscapes.

MDIG, 27 March-19 July 2015  More information 

Lace Curtains

February 26, 2015

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This picture was taken in one of the bedrooms of Monet’s home at Giverny. The house dates back to the mid-1800’s and most of the fixtures are still original, so I suppose this window handle is too. It is a very common model that can be seen in lots of houses of that time. Here it is painted the same pale blue as the window.

What is certainly much more recent are the curtains, although they look ancient and charming. But it is rare to find old curtains in good condition because the light and heat behind the window damage them rapidly. I suppose those were replaced at the restoration of the house in the 1970’s. They are machine made with sort of a floral pattern that resembles lace.

When I was a child I wondered. How can a curtain let us see through, but not enable people standing outside to peep in? Now I don’t any more. I take them for granted. A new surprise awaited me: I’ve realised since I work as a guide and chat with foreigners that curtains, especially lace curtains look french. Do you agree?

They also look country, in my opinion. I must confess that I am a big fan of the Country Living magazine, both the US and UK issues. It is very exciting to explore the country spirit overseas. To learn what people answer to the question ‘What makes my home country?’. Here the curtains would belong to these features. Monet’s house is at the same time a painter’s house, a house of the 19th century, the home of an upper-middle class family, and, being located in the country side, it is definitely a country house.

The Crystal Clear Pond

February 19, 2015

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As long as the water is still cold, the algaes don’t feel like growing. They wait patiently for better times to come.

In March, the water of Monet’s pond is so clear that the bottom looks close, offering shamelessly all its details to the view.

The uneven surface of the layer of mud resembles the moon, with mysterious craters everywhere. The planters of water lilies pop up in this desert like a lunar buggy.

The brave first leaves have made their way through the water to reach the surface, looking for sun and energy. They are still purple but will soon turn green.

In back light, when the weather is fine, innumerable stars twinckle on the surface where the light kisses the water.

This crystal clear water is the show awaiting the first Giverny visitors. In April, days get longer, warmer, and the inviting sunbeams awake grass, flowers, trees and algaes alike.

Some years, the water looses its transparency and  gets almost milky, to my delight, because I like the way it absorbs the colors, I find it lovely. After a while the water clears up again.

 

The Early Spring Garden

January 20, 2015

giverny-windowThis is what Claude Monet could see when he gazed through his bedroom’s window in April. Last year spring was very early and the first colors were already there at the opening of the garden. Wallflowers make a striking effect combined with tulips, while daffodils and jonquils form islands of white and yellow flowers on the lawns. In the distance, the tall trees of the water garden don’t have any leaves yet. It is just a matter of days.

A Kiss Under the Mistletoe

January 4, 2015

mistletoe

This picture was taken on January 1st at Giverny. Outdoors, under a mistletoe plant growing on a tree. Mistletoe is extremely common in our area and can be seen on a wide range of trees including poplars, apple trees, aspens or oaks.

As long as the leaves don’t hide it, mistletoe is very visible and puzzles many visitors. It is a parasite and it does kill the branches it grows on by being too greedy, but the tree itself generally resists. In the meanwhile, mistletoe offers bed and board to many birds. It is now considered an ecological keystone species.

As a guide, I was recently asked by a client if we also kiss under the mistletoe on New Year’s Eve. Actually, we do sometimes, although I doubt this habit belongs to the French folklore. But because we love kissing in France, any excuse for it is immediately adopted, of course. However to tell the truth, the clock striking midnight is enough to start the kissing party.

I wish you many opportunities for kissing this year and twelve months full of love, friendship and warmth. Have a wonderful year 2015!

 

The Desk in Monet’s Bedroom

December 27, 2014

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Here is a close-up of the desk that can be seen in Claude Monet’s bedroom at Giverny. It is from the mid 18th Century and features music instruments, not painting material. It was already an antique when Monet purchased it.

During the second half of his life Monet became famous. Recognised as a great painter, he sold his paintings at high prices. This enabled him to live a comfortable life.

The desk was restored last winter and found its original colors again.

Monet’s Grave

December 5, 2014

monet-grave

Claude Monet is buried at Giverny. His grave is located behind the church. It’s a 10 minute walk from his house.

It is a big family tomb planted with flowers, what sounds only natural for such a great gardener. Monet rests together with his second wife Alice, his two sons Jean and Michel and their wives. Susan, a daughter of Alice, and Alice’s first husband Ernest Hoschedé also keep Monet company. It is rather ironical that Monet and his rival rest in the same grave.

The reason is that Ernest was the first one to die, and his children -raised by Monet- wanted him to rest in Giverny to be able to go on their father’s grave easily. The next one to pass away was Susan. Logically, she was buried with her father. Alice never recovered from this latter grief. When she succumbed to leucemia, she joined her beloved daughter in her last residence. Next came Jean, Monet’s son, and Claude Monet himself. He died the 5th of December 1926 from lung cancer.

More Peaceful Than Ever

November 24, 2014

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Fall atmosphere in Monet’s gardens at Giverny.

The picture was taken from the steps of the dock next to the water lily pond.

On the left, the green leaves of pontederias.

The red shrub on the opposite bank is a Japanese maple.

In the distance appears the pink house with green shutters, Monet’s home for 43 years.

On the right, through the branches, the third studio where Monet painted his biggest water lilies panels.

November at Giverny

November 10, 2014

giverny-november

Do you want to have a look at the Monet Garden while it is closed for the winter?

Here is the Japanese bridge as it was this morning.

Giverny is now closed for five months.

The village will awake again next spring.

The first day for visiting the gardens will be Saturday 28 March, 2015.

Fall Colors

October 22, 2014

fall-colors

Yesterday I guided very charming hawaian guests at Giverny. It was nice to look at Monet’s gardens through their eye from Hawai. They reminded me that fall doesn’t exist on their island. It is summer all year round. Discovering the special spirit of this season sounded very exciting for them.  Autumn has started to work its magic on the foliage. The three sweet gum trees reflect their reds and oranges into the water lily pond. For us, who know what will come next, this dramatic show of the saison, despite of its beauty, has a special flavour of nostalgia and melancholia intertwined.