Sunday, October 23, 2005

A French friend told me

A French woman recently returned from San Francisco and won my eternal gratitude by telling me that the garden at our house there reminded her of Giverny. To find out exactly how much she was flattering us, we decided this weekend to head to Monet’s house and garden at Giverny before it closes at the end of October.

We took the train from Gare St Lazare to Vernon in around an hour, then took the bus to Giverny. Next, we joined a large group of lost tourists wandering about with the dubious help of many different official-looking signs all claiming to point definitively to Monet’s house and yet all pointing in different directions.

After a few detours, we arrived at the gardens, bursting with Dahlias and cosmos in a final fling before winter sets in. Monet’s house was a wonderful portal into the artist’s world – all blues and yellows and packed full of Japanese block prints with their indigo blues and beautifully stylized water scenes.

On the other side of the road was the famous water lily pond – it is nothing short of a religious experience. It is a pond I have stared at many times in paintings at the Met and now at the Musee Marmotton; and have spent hours marveling at the blues and purples and blacks, losing myself in the reflections of the trees, the effervescence of the flowers, the depths of the roots dangling down into the water.

In real life, the pond is every bit as beautiful as Monet depicted it, but somehow even more perfect in his paintings. In real life, my gardens are nowhere near as beautiful as Monet’s, but somehow stay perfect in my memory.

Tags: France travel, Giverny