Giverny – Haute-Normandie, France
A Blooming Place of Pilgrimage for Art Lovers
Much of Claude Monet’s love affair with natural light and color took place in this green-trimmed pink country house, where the artist lived and worked from 1883 to 1926. His greatest passion was his garden, and it has been meticulously re-created and planted to provide a glory of floral drama for the three seasons it is open to the public.
Unlike formal French gardens, flowers and exuberant color spill over onto the gravel paths and hang from trellises like—well, a Monet canvas. It was here that Monet and his fellow Impressionists—Sisley, Cezanne, Pissarro, Manet, and Renoir—would set up their easels outdoors (in itself a radical act in the context of artistic tradition).
The way they captured the changes in light and weather at different times of the day altered the course of 20th-century art. Even Monet did not grasp its inherent beauty right away. “It took me some time to understand my water lilies,” he wrote. “And then, suddenly, I had the revelation of the magic of my pond. . . . Since then I have hardly had another model.” Weekend crowds can be distracting here, but the famous water garden of lilies, Japanese bridges, and lithe willows still provides a contemplative escape.