My feet continue to be problematic, so we opt to take the train out to Giverny to Monet’s house, about a 90-minute transaction for the trip between figuring out the subway boogie, purchasing train tickets (which are not the Metro), and finding the St. Lazare train station which is not the same as the RER station. We make it just on time for the 10:20.
The trains here are really nice! Triple-deckers that glide along the tracks with few stops in between. They even have air conditioning and seats for all. They’re also clean and relatively luxurious. We arrive at the tiny Vernon station and take a bus out to Giverny. It’s pandemonium there. Ugh. Lots of waiting in line with people who are there for the “famous” quotient, not because they actually care about it.
We stand in line for an hour in the heat, then get access to the house and garden. Our museum passes aren’t valid for this, either.
The grounds are spectacular and huge. Traditional romantic unstructured plants blooming everywhere, with tiny dirt pathways to talk along and trellises. There are gorgeous stone walls with terracotta rain guards on top. And throughout, a meandering brook and charming little foot bridges covered with less-than-charming tourists yelling stuff like, “Look, there’s water lilies!” Duh.
The water lilies are everywhere and in bloom. They float seductively on the water, poufs of color resting on a more monochromatic river. Based on the way Monet usually paints the “nymphae,” I am surprised at the intensity of their color. Mostly screaming fuschia. The water reflects shades I’ve never seen before in water … mostly greys and taupes. Somewhere along the pathways I drop my expensive new split-neutral-density filter. We stop looking for it after a few minutes. Probably fell off in a flower-bed, which means we would never find it.
After a while, we realize Monet must have been wealthy in his time, and we talk about how that would help his painting both in terms of opportunities and also productivity. We head up to his house, which is very crowded with tourists and swelteringly hot. It has been maintained, just as it was, which also tells us about Monet’s wealth and fame in his own time. His studio has huge, high ceilings filled with paintings to the ceiling, in the same arrangement as a photo we see. We guess that most of these are reproductions since we see some other paintings in Paris that look to be the originals. We may be wrong, since they wouldn’t let us take photos.
The view of the gardens from his bedroom is to die for. He could see it all from there, since the gardens slope away from the house. Throughout the house, we see other works by Renoir and a Japanese artist. I always find it fascinating to see which art other artists collect. We head back downstairs to check out the kitchen, which surprises me. It’s tiled and rather Swedish in decoration … yellow and jadeite and delft blue.
We then decide to hightail it out of there. Much too crowded to enjoy. We speculate as to when it might be less crowded but with the garden still blooming. We come up with an answer: probably never.