An excursion in Normandy: Monet’s water lilies, King Richard’s ruins

A Claude Monet's 1919 painting. File Photo: AP  

It’s a sunny scene, which the young Japanese girl presents as she stands on a bridge in her cream-coloured linen dress. She is holding a parasol and a large straw hat covers her hair.

For a long while she gazes across a pond, her face expressionless -- almost as if she were posing as a model for a painter.

But Claude Monet, the 19th century painter who in fact worked from this very spot, is dead. But visitors nowadays do not need as much time as did the Impressionist painter to take in the scene of the famous pond of water lilies in Giverny in the French region of Normandy.

Video cameras are whirring, camera lenses are clicking and the travel group from Asia is happy about the perfect picture before them.

Giverny is a pilgrimage destination for Monet fans. The artist, who died here in 1926 at the age of 86 and is also buried here, spent more than 40 years in this village in the south-west of Normandy.

Monet’s house with its large garden is located on a street which long ago was named after him.

Naturally all the visitors first head to the master’s house and garden. To actually see where Monet spent his days and evenings might be interesting to some.

But that is not a real highlight of the visit to look at the kitchen with its blue-and-white tiles, or to regard Monet’s collection of Japanese paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries which are hanging on the walls everywhere in the house.

It’s finally time to get outside and into the garden with its colourful chaos: sunflowers, cosmos and other flowers dominate the setting. In one corner, chickens are cackling away, and the air is filled with a Babylonic mixture of many languages.

The famous water lilies pond is separated from the garden by a street, but a tunnel offers visitors quick access.

Finding the bridge over the pond which Claude Monet so often painted is not very easy: there are several of them, and all are painted green, whereas in Monet’s paintings the wood appeared to have a more bluish sheen.

Just to be safe, many visitors take a picture of their friends posing on every bridge, whether they are smiling broadly into the camera or looking off in the distance with a dreamlike expression.

This summer, Giverny and Monet’s house stand to receive more visitors than in other years, because Normandy is staging a large-scale Impressionists festival. More than 200 events are planned, and the Impressionists Museum which was opened in Giverny in 2009 is also participating with an exhibition running until July 18.

Those who, while making their way to the art events in Giverny make a stop in Rouen on the Seine River, automatically arrives in the “Norman L.A.” -- in Les Andelys.

Towering above the city are the ruins of Chateau Gaillard. The fortress was built at the end of the 12th century by English King Richard the Lionheart who was engaged in deadly conflict with his French foe, Philipp August, for rule over Normandy.

Only eight years after the start of construction the conflict was decided in France’s favour. The fortress lost its importance and began to crumble. It was declared a national historic monument in 1862.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 5:24:15 PM |

Next Story