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The planets align perfectly in Giverny

My cousin was born to visit Giverny: she told me she must visit Giverny if she did nothing else on her visit to Paris. Seeing Claude Monet’s gardens and studios was what she had to do before she died. There was no getting around it, so we bought tickets for the Cityrama bus tour to this small town in Normandy.


Patricia our guide was perfect: 2″ heels with a brisk walking style, short gray upswept hair, perfectly enunciated English, a paisley scarf that never shifted on her shoulders, a no-nonsence manner, and a lime green umbrella with a duck’s head on the handle that she held up so stragglers could find our tour group. Patricia’s first lesson: Claude’s last name is pronounced “MOE-nay,” not “moe-NAY.”

The bus ride to Giverny didn’t look good, however, as the windshield wipers slapped at the rainy and gray drizzle. My cousin and I wouldn’t even say the word rain. The pagan fear of the direct path from saying to being kept us mum. As we pulled into the parking lot for Monet’s gardens, the clouds began to break. Really. Then, at the American Museum nearby, the sun came all the way out during our group’s luncheon of creamy salmon quiche, salad, and wine.

My cousin and I wove through the many pathways in the Clos Normand (Monet’s enclosed garden or “Normandy enclosure,” the first beds he cultivated), taking pictures of just flowers, flowers and my cousin, flowers and both of us, flowers and the sky, flowers and the pathways, then just flowers again.

We had to walk through the underpass to get to Monet’s second plot, his Japanese water garden. The road we walked under was adapted from the old railway. When Monet bought the land, the space was a rail line.  He crossed the railroad lines to work in his gardens many times a day.

The Japanese garden contains the pond where Monet grew nympheas (“water lilies”) which he sketched, studied, tended, and painted until his death in 1926. We had our pictures taken on the bridge and happily added many other pond shots to our memory cards throughout the afternoon.


Monet’s studios, house, and gardens are open each year April 1 through October 31. I would love to have an art studio with the full light that Monet was able to arrange for his work. I would also love to have those magnificent gardens–and gardeners–as he did. He was a lucky man to have a large family devoted to his career in this large, comfortable setting.


My cousin and I certainly felt the spirit of our mothers, who were sisters and have both passed on. We wished they could have joined us for this perfect day in Giverny with beauty, the sun, and the aligned planets.

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