Most people have probably seen copies of the Impressionist master’s water lilies-filled paintings. Some are fortunate enough to have seen the originals. Standing in front of the water lily pond, one can see where he got his inspirations. The shore is blanketed with myriad plants, bushes, and trees. The round shapes of water lilies dot the surface of the pond, while lush branches of weeping willows gently undulate in the wind. In places the vegetation is so thick it forms an impenetrable green curtain. There’s an overwhelming yet soothing feeling of tranquility and harmony. I didn’t see anyone breaking out paintbrushes, but practically everyone took out cameras.
Plants hanging from above and protruding from below obscure visitors standing on the first bridge.
The water lily pond though more famous is only one part of the extensive horticultural showcase. The garden in front of Monet’s residence is filled with innumerable flowers. The luxuriance of this garden reminds me of Butchart Garden in Victoria, Canada. Likewise, it can feel a bit overwhelming, even if you don’t suffer from allergies.
Musée d’Art Americain
Giverny became the gathering place of American impressionists and perhaps the world-wide center of American Impressionism. The museum (est 1992) explores the connection between French and American arts.
The artist’s house is perhaps not so surprisingly painted green. The style and furnishings are simple, but somehow seemed more harmonious with the surroundings. He had a lifelong fascination with Japanese arts. The house is now converted into a gallery displaying his collection (though for his actual Impressionist works one’d have to go elsewhere, such as the Musée d’Orsay, or even Las Vegas!)
The water lily pond
This is why you came, isn’t it? The pond is separate from the rest of the estate and is accessible via an underground tunnel (funded by an American, as I remember, part of an unusually strong American connection with the area). A paved walkway traverses 2 wooden bridges and takes you around the pond. Discreetly placed benches let you further soak in the tranquil surrounding.
Last visit: 2004 Pros: Abundance of plants and flowers, natural setting Cons: Distinct possibility of being “flowered out” In a nutshell: Pilgrimage site for lovers of Impressionism