KMC Destinations: Monet´s Gardens

Emily Reagan, Story and photos
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***It wasn’t easy convincing my World War II buff of a father-in-law to stop at a place that had nothing to do with World War II. But somehow I managed to detour our rental car and make a short stop, between Normandy’s battlefields and the war museum in Paris, to look at flowers.

Just outside of Paris on the Seine River, the tiny village of Giverny, France, has inspired artists and art-lovers because it’s the home of Claude Monet, the famous impressionist painter. There you can see his painted landscapes come to life by touring the actual gardens.

***image2***Monet’s Gardens is only open part of the year from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, April 1 to Oct. 30. The gardens would be more beautiful without the throng of visitors, so arrive early or late to avoid the crowds, or bring your patience. Tickets are €4 for adults or €5.50 to include a tour of the home. Children under 7 are free and under 12 are €3.

After standing in line at the only ticket window, my in-laws, my husband and I were first herded through the gift shop. Most visitors stopped off to buy Monet-printed souvenirs right away, while we pushed on to the gardens.

Signs pointed in the right directions and crowds obstructed the small paths that twist through rows, beds and plots of colorful flowers. We slowly scooted our way to the water-lily pond by way of the tunnel. Then we slowly scooted our way around the pond, admiring the views while other tourists admired views of us from across the pond. It was truly beautiful.

***image3***Except for the additional people standing on the bridge, the scenery of the still pond, floating water lilies, weeping willows and the dipping Japanese bridges seemed exactly the same as Monet’s water lily series. The outer path, skirting the creek, was less congested and just as beautiful with bamboo shoots and green life everywhere.

A walk through part of Monet’s pink and green brick house was included with our ticket. Mostly filled with Japanese prints and little furniture, the house offered a glimpse into Monet’s real home and decor. The ending room, the kitchen, was the most spectacular, decked out with blue and white, Delft and French tiles an old stove.

Just down the street from Monet’s property, on flower-lined Rue Claude Monet, is the American Fine Art Museum, which features galleries of American impressionists. Entrance is €5.50 for adults, €3 for children 12 to 18, and free for children under 12. Audio guides are €1.50 and the museum is free on the first Sunday of the month. Unfortunately, our quick, non-war-related stop did not allow us the time to explore the 19th-century and modern artworks.

Also while there, if you have €5 to spare, pick up a 36-page guide book at the tourist office. The guide, although not in extreme depth, has photos and some extra tidbits that will help you enjoy your stay, whether long or short or in between “war stops.”

After the trip, my father-in-law said he was impressed with the gardens and was glad we had detoured. He even admitted he had a new appreciation for Monet’s art. But I’m sure it won’t replace his World War II interest.