article by Abby Pickus | photos by Kelley Engelbrecht
The green Japanese bridge in the famous impressionist paintings seems too picturesque to be real. It is framed by a canopy of leaves and flowers, and crosses a pond filled with water lilies, or nymphéas in French, on one side, and a wooden boat on the other. Standing on it is like stepping into a fantasy.
Giverny, France is home to the gardens of the impressionist painter, Claude Monet. Monet saw the tiny village from a train, fell in love with it, and became determined to live there. It’s easy to imagine why. Surrounded by the hills of Upper Normandy, the town is a pocket of serenity. Monet’s gardens are even more peaceful, with flowers, bridges, lilies, and a pink house with green shutters overlooking it all.
Claude Monet rented this house in Giverny in May 1883. He was attracted to the bucolic landscape, as were many other artists at the time, like his Impressionist friends Renoir and Degas. The view from the open bedroom windows is breathtaking. When all of the flowers are in bloom, a sea of color spreads out to fill the entire estate.
As Monet’s fame grew, so did his wealth. Eventually, he was able to purchase the house. In 1966, upon the death of his son, it was given to the Acadèmie des Beaux-Arts, who restored the house and gardens. It opened to the public as a museum in 1980.
The best time to visit the gardens is between April and October. The flower varieties bloom at different times, so, each month, the sights will be different. Most visitors go between May and June. The water lilies are in peak in July and August. Tickets can be bought online beforehand for 10€50.
This article is part of our collaboration with the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center, a study abroad program for American students based in Luxembourg.