Monet’s house in Giverny in the Eure Department, Normandy is a true delight. And, its a really unexpected bonus if you’re only going for the gardens. It’s not big or grand but there’s something about it, a feeling that it looks as it did when the great artist lived there. You almost expect him to walk in through that famous front door…
It was a family home, Monet, his wife Alice and two sons and his wife six children from her first marriage lived here. The bright green paint of the window sills and doors is unmistakable, it’s a zingy sort of colour that makes the house look friendly and welcoming. In fact colour is what makes this house so memorable.
Shades of blue and yellow predominate and it’s a place that has a magical atmosphere. This bright yellow room has spawned thousands of copy cat kitchens around France. In fact its the most popular colour for French kitchens! Japanese prints hang on the wall as they did in Monet’s day – he was endlessly inspired by them.
You almost feel as though Monet himself will return at any moment. Perhaps he will sit at the table in the dining room or smoke a pipe in the reading room. Perhaps he has nipped out to the garden to pick flowers to fill the rooms with yet more colour.
In the kitchen the table is laid, pots and pans line the dressers and flowers are in a jug on the table. the beautiful blue and white Rouen tiles softly reflect the light. Just as in the garden, the colours used inside the house are masterful.
Copies of the artist’s paintings hang on the walls. On a sunny day the windows are thrown open, light pouring into those light, airy rooms. No wonder most visitors fall completely head over heels for this house – the views over the gardens are exquisite
Read about Monet’s garden with loads of lovely photos here.
What to see in Giverny
It’s not a big town but there’s plenty to please – from tempting gift shops (who can resist an impressionist inspired umbrella?) to cafés and restaurants. There’s also a Museum of Impressionism and a tourist office which has lots of information for what to do in the area.
It’s easy to spend a half day here with lunch or dinner in one of the pretty restaurants. The main street is great for a wander and there are side streets with pretty houses in a tranquil atmosphere.
Hotel Baudy Giverny
Don’t miss a trip to the lovely little former Hotel Baudy at 81 rue Claude Monet. In 1887, the first painters in what would become the colony of American artists needed accommodation in the village. Madame Baudy who owned a grocery store decided to transform it into a hotel and restaurant. It became a favourite place for the likes of Monet, Renoir and Cezanne and other artists to meet for many years.
Today it’s a restaurant but ask to pop out the back to view the rose garden and the former atelier of the artists. The outdoor studio is filled with easels and paints, ivy has grown through the roof. You’ll feel as if Monet’s great friend Renoir who visited here has gone out for a bottle of wine and will be back any time to finish his painting.
Monet is buried in a modest spot at the churchyard at Giverny. His coffin was carried as he requested, by his gardeners. The house and gardens were eventually bequeathed to the Académie des Beaux Arts by Monet’s son Michel.
Website: Fondation-Monet.com for details of opening times (March to November) and tickets.