Fleurs Fleurs Fleurs

I promised Top Cat that I WOULD NOT DIGRESS this week (he says my posts are getting waaaay toooo loooooong) while I take you to Monet’s famous garden in Giverny (Normandy, France).

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I promise to Keep It Short since my previous reports (last week and the week before) on my recent visit to France have been rather wordy and some readers [Top Cat] say I make it toooooo looooong toooo reeeeeeed. So I’m cutting my three-day exploration of All Things Monet in Giverny down to this one post, probably. But pardon me while I set the scene:

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For my first two nights I stayed at a marvelous B&B called Le Coin des Artists, which used to be a cafe/grocery in Monet’s day:

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The Breakfast part of the B&B was quite wonderful (see: below… those are the same chairs that you’ll find in Monet’s dining room at Giverny and there was always Katie Melua on the CD player. I highly recommend starting your Giverny days hearing Katie Melua sing “Closest Thing to Crazy”   and eavesdropping on the Belgian couple talking about the high price of French toll roads compared to the ones in Belgium but I’m not telling you that story because I Will Not Digress).

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And ahhhhhh!! The Bed part of this B&B was heavenly! I really missed my Top Cat when I saw my room because nothing is more romantic than a fauteuil, n’est-ce pas?

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Fauteuil only means “armchair” even tho it sounds kind of dirty.

The windows of my room looked out into the courtyard:

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In the evening in this same courtyard the delightful hostess at Le Coin des Artistes, Madame Laurence Pain, serves chilled Loire Valley wine with the resident chow (see below: those orange protuberances at the end of the table are chow ears):

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I could tell stories about the dogs of Giverny, who seem unable to contain their curiosity and excitement  to be in the company of such world travelers as  moi...

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…or the cats of Giverny ,who don’t

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…except for this little girl (below) who must be part Siamese for all the talking she did here in Giverny’s “Medieval Quarter”, which consists of one rue…called Rue aux Juifs (Street of Jews) if you can believe it…

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…but I will not digress!!!  Neither can I tell you about the many stone walls I had to climb to snoop  into courtyards that are hidden from the street, such as this one (below) where they hide Monet’s so-called “Blue House” where he used to grow his vegetables…

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…but Non! Non! I will not digress! We are here today to visit the Monet’s garden at Giverny, so let’s get to it:

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This is the map (above) at the entrance to the garden — they do not sell or give away maps of the garden when you pay your 9 euro ($12.50) to get into the garden, which I was telling the young Canadian couple on line with me, who were on the second day of their 6-week driving tour of France  (so they took an iPad photo of this wall map to take with them) and then the guy, whose hobby is geology, wondered what kind of rocks this was in the wall because to a rock hound the world is one big rock puzzle, to whom I said well, if you like rocks and you have a car you  should go see one of the Wonders of the World (rock-wise) at Mont St-Michel close by here in Normandy and they said “Mont What?” etc. but I Will Not Digress

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…although you see the guy with the dog (above) on the typically looooooong line to buy entrance tickets: Yeah, me too, I asked myself, “What kind of nincompoop brings a dog to Monet’s garden???” but I saw him later  outside the garden sitting with the dog and I offered to watch the pup while he went inside but he said no thank you, it’s his wife who wanted to see the garden — they have been here before as they often sail their boat from England and moor it on the Seine in Vernon (closest town to Giverny on the Seine ) which goes to show you that people have the most surprising stories if you take the time to chat… but I Will Not Digress… Let’s get to the GARDEN!!!

This is what you see after you enter the garden through the gift shop and pass the lavatories:

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Those are espalier’d apple trees IN BLOSSOM!!! and the sign that points to “House” is of course pointing to Monet’s famous pink house:

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I timed my visit to the garden so that I’d get there at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and yes, it was still plenty crowded.

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But I like crowds. In case you haven’t guessed, I like talking to people when I travel because, well, I’m a professional travel writer and in order to write about travel I need stories. What better way to get them than to get people to tell me theirs? Like this mother/daughter pair (below) I helped because they didn’t speak French and the ladies working in the gift shop are, excuse me for saying, kind of snotty, but I Will Not Digress:

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And I LOVE Chinese tourists because they wear the best hats:

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And for the most part, even tho it’s crowded,  people are aware of other people trying to get a Monet Garden picture and do not walk right into your shot…

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…but not always. And then, if you’re me, you hope that someone with an outrageously fab Monet-Garden-Visiting-Outfit steps into view…

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How the gardeners work amidst such teeming humanity I don’t know…

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…although I trailed two women gardeners who were pulling off the dead tulip heads with such a delicate manouvre that I was entranced by their gentle touch but I Will Not Digress

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But let us rejoice that some people, even in the madding crowd, are able find their private moments…

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…which I, as your typical Nosey Parker…

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…am only too happy to butt in on. But here’s my redeeming feature: I am the person who, when I see young couples taking “selflies” in places like Monet’s garden, I walk up and I ask “Would you like me to take your picture?” and then I art-direct them so that I get great shots of them in situ (I’m great at setting a scene and getting informative background) and I even tell them “Go on, kiss!” and they DO because I have that kind of trustful face and all.

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Monet Garden at Giverny Travel Tip No. 1: If you hang around past 5 o’clock, all the day trippers leave and the place becomes very empty and even the guards are so happy that the day is almost over that they relax their eagle eyes and go MIA so there is no one to yell at you for taking pictures of the rooms…

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…so you can stand in Monet’s bed chamber and snap away all you want (photos of furniture are forbidden!)…

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…and there isn’t the usual looong line to get the permitted photo out of Monet’s window…

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…so you can take in the view that Monet himself woke up to. I usually try to get people in my photos of landscape so you can gauge the scale so…Merci, straggler tourists who are in my picture of the overcast skies of Giverny at 5:30 May 10, 2013:

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I want to live like Alice Monet and see a garden like this when I walk out of my kitchen.

This (below) is Monet’s other bedroom window seen from the ground (the house is very narrow) , part of a series of pictures that I took of all the edges all around his garden property because you never see that part of his garden but I Will Not Digress:

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I like this picture because it catches the wind that blew in from the depths of Normandy all through Giverny, fluttering the tulips and the tourists:

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So. Here I am, the next day, enjoying a lunch of hard boiled egg and baguette sandwich (which I made from breakfast items at the B&B) after trudging to the top of the hill that looms high above Giverny…

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…when through the telephoto lens of my camera I peer unto the Jardin de Monet in the valley below…

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…and I see that the D5 (a local highway that in this bend in the road is grandly called Chemin du Roy — King’s Way ) runs right past Monet’s garden. This road is built on the old railway line that bi-sects Monet’s property — his famous Water Garden is on the far side of the D5 there. And I think to myself  This I gotta see  but I have nine hours of DIGRESSION to achieve before I check out this Chemin du Roy from ground level:

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It’s 8 o’clock in the evening and I am the only soul walking along this stretch of highway…

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…where you can  see the paradise that is Monet’s garden, big as you please!  Without paying 9 euro!

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The only barrier here is a spike fence and some scraggly shrubs:

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All you have to do is walk up to the fence and stick your camera between the fence railings and you get the most beautiful scenes of an empty garden…

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…and vistas that are just not available to you when you are actually IN the garden with the hoards of tourists :

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I loved being here, in this silent and lonely twilight…

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…taking photos of the landscape that really makes much more sense from this perspective:

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These are the famous “paintbox” beds of flowers that oh! Made me tremble with pleasure seeing them like this (as compared to seeing them from inside):

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You can not get a better shot of the alley than this, from outside the garden walls:

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It helps that Normandy is so far north…

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…that you still get the gentle evening twilight…

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…that best illuminates the spritely colors of flowers…

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…so much better than daytime sunlight:

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Amazing, right?

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Monet Garden at Giverny Travel Tip No. 2: Walk along the D5 after closing hours in Giverny and have this impossibly beautiful garden all to yourself. I did not see another soul the whole time I lurked here. This last picture, you can see, is blurry, which told me that I was losing the light…

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…so I walked back into town,  to Rue Claude Monet, the main drag of Giverny…

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…and I wished I weren’t so far from home…

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The next day I paid my last visit to Monet’s garden. (I also moved to the town’s only hotel which I did not like so I Will Not Digress further.) It was sunny, which is not so great for photographing flowers so I will only show you this picture (below), which shows the hill on which I sat when I got my bird’s eye view of dear Giverny (that white boxy thing in the background is a pumping station that you will pass half-way on your climb to the top):

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This is the last photo that I took of the garden…Farewell, Giverny:

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I know that we did not get to the famous lily pond in Monet’s famous Water Garden in this post so I’ll have to show that to you next week when I’ll have a Giverny Triscuit for you, which I did not paint this week because  I’ve been very busy making sure that the backyard cats aren’t dead :

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That’s only Bibs, who looks dead but he’s just snoozing under Oscar’s watch.

And keeping an eye out so that the indoor cats don’t kill each other :

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That’s Cindy, glaring up at Taffy who is hogging her chair.

But we still have the Paris Triscuit to give away!

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And the Triscuit goes to…Jen A.!!!  Congratulations to a long time reader of this blog who recently sent me hummingbird feathers to add to my collection — you have never seen feathers soooooo small and so sparkly as hummingbird feathers but I Will Not Digress, no sir, not meThat’s for next week!

 

See you next time under the wisteria!