Oh hey, Monet!

Paris! I went there, over two months ago! And I know I've promised approximately four times now that it was recap time, but now it REALLY IS recap time. Mostly because I have the free time to appropriately express everything I want to say and share. 

Things will be a bit out of order, just because there's no easy way to lump things we did into nice day-by-day categories. We took several day trips, and those will come first because they're easiest to get down on paper! Without further ado...

One of the biggest must-do’s on our list for Paris was to take a day trip out to Giverny, home of Monet’s famously beautiful gardens and the site where he painted the bulk of his most iconic works. We booked the “Giverny and Monet” half-day tour for the Wednesday midpoint of our trip, which conveniently departed from an office two blocks from our apartment. Score!

The tour was nowhere near as small and private as our Montmartre or Versailles groups, but for this trip, it worked well. We boarded a coach bus with about 25 other people for the hour-and-a-half trip northwest. The countryside of France was beautiful, if intermittently rainy…the theme of our trip was "marginal weather across the board." On the drive out, our guides filled us in on the course of Monet’s fascinating life and how he ended up in Giverny. Upon arrival, we were unleashed (with hundreds of others) into his stunning gardens!

Monet’s home is the site of two gardens, both of which were laid out, planted, and tended by the artist himself. One is a more classic French rectangular garden, the other a stunning Japanese-style garden centering around a small pond where his famous water lilies still grow today.

Since words couldn’t possibly describe…photos!

The pathways through the Japanese gardens were winding and twisty, and every time we turned it felt like there was something new and gorgeous to marvel over. The on-and-off drizzle made everything extra-fragrant and offered up some pretty fantastic lighting for Emily to play with settings on her fancy-schmancy camera. 

The famous wisteria-covered bridge, featured prominently in this painting

Of course, some water lilies! We were too early in the season for blooms, but the effect was still unbelievable.

His traditional garden, which stretches the entire length of the front of his home, was mindblowing. The arches are covered with climbing vines and every flowerbed was already lush with tulips and irises and hundreds of other flowers I couldn’t describe.

The tour also included a peek into his home…which I fell in love with the instant I saw the pastel pink façade and bright green shutters.

Monet and his family lived in the home until his death in 1926, and in 1966 when it was donated to the Académie des Beaux-Arts it was fully restored to consistency with Monet’s time there. The home was flooded with light from every side…perfect for an Impressionist…and his valuable and extensive collection of Chinoiserie sculpture and Japanese engravings are scattered and hung all over the home.

Emily fell in love with his studio, with good reason: how amazing to see (replicas of) his paintings as they would have been displayed in his time!

I couldn’t get enough of his cheerful yellow dining room…

…or the copper pots and hand-painted blue tiles that covered his kitchen.

So charming! I’ll be running away to be an Impressionist gardener and painter any day now, thanks.

To keep our Monet day alive and thriving, we had our lunch at La Palette…which felt like the kind of place Monet could have hung out back in his day!

After we finished up and stopped at our apartment to drop off souvenirs, we couldn’t resist a trip to l’Orangerie, the petite museum in the Jardins de Tuileries that is best known as the home of Monet’s Water Lilies paintings. The museum is at the opposite end of the Tuileries from the Louvre…and as the skies had cleared and the day was gorgeous, we enjoyed the walk from our apartment. Though we didn’t have advance tickets, the wait for entry was blissfully short…and well worth it when we arrived to see these beauties:

Can you even believe how stunning they are? The scale and scope and sheer massiveness of each of the eight paintings totally took my breath away, especially with the memory of the living garden so fresh from that morning.

Each painting has its own wall of two separate oval salons, flooded with soft white light and quiet as a church. The museum was so uncrowded, we could get right up and really examine each painting. I fell in love instantly.

Look at how fantastically detailed they are! Being able to scrutinize them from a breath away was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

As much as I loved him before, Monet’s rocketed to the top of my “favorite artists” list. Next time we’re in Paris, I’ll be checking out the Musée Marmottan-Monet for sure…since we returned, I’ve heard from numerous people that it’s a must-see for Monet lovers. I can’t recommend Giverny more highly to those lucky enough to visit Paris in the spring, summer, or fall...I absolutely loved our little peek into his fairy-tale gardens and home!