Not so Secret Garden — Giverny

When we headed for Giverny, I really thought we were going to have a rendezvous with tourist hell — all the guidebooks talk about the crowds and the train was filled with more English speakers than we have seen since we have been here.  And so I thought I’d be contrasting the tranquil secret gardens of Paris with this French tourist trap.

And Giverny has always been one of those places that we felt we ‘ought’ to see but apparently didn’t actually want to see since we managed to put it off on each trip — even this time we launched on Monday   (it is newly opened on Mondays and the guidebooks all have it closed — so we thought we might see fewer crowds)but failed to get there and ended up going to the Bois de Bologne instead.  We had forgotten the French mania for officially celebrating every ecclesiastical holiday and May is stuffed with them.  Monday was a holiday and the trains ran on an unexpected schedule.

So today we finally made it.  And while it began with the long lines and crowding of tourist hell– the place is just so charming even as the spring flowers are fading and the summer not quite out — that even the crowds didn’t diminish it.

While I waited in the long ticket line (be sure to reserve on line and print them out so you can skip all that — we didn’t chance it because the printer at the apartment is not reliable)  — while I waited in the long hot line — Ed did what he always does everywhere in Paris — got coffee and read a book (the Kindle has made this even easier.)

Once we had tickets in hand we joined the throngs and were immediately struck by the profusion of flowers; it is planned like a classic English garden rather than a formal French one with layers of texture and color.

This shot is from the front of Monet’s home out across the flower gardens.

There were so many exquisite flowers and varieties I couldn’t name as well as old favorites like this rose.  The bulb flowers and azaleas were mostly fading out and the roses not quite in full flower, but there was still a riot of color.

There were big showy blooms — irises of every possible color.

bright showy flowers I didn’t recognize

as well as tiny little blooms like these charming pinks.

We even spotted an escargot — or are they called that on the hoof?

Spring is field trip season and there were a dozen school groups through from pre-school aged little darlings with giant name tags to older groups of kids.

Here is Ed enjoying the upper garden.  A small schoolchild asked him if he were Monsieur Monet.  His response ‘je suis Monsieur Monet.’  Big day for that kid — Ed’s hat and the beard I guess.

Leaving the upper garden you pass under the road into the watergarden. The pond is connected to a nearby stream with weirs to divert water in or let it flow out.  And it is a quite beautiful place even with the crowds.

It is a small pond with a bridge at each end. The water is filled with lillies of course and what appeared to be large catfish that occasionially leapt and splashed to the delight of the children.

It is truly as if you are in an impressionist painting — perhaps a Monet.

The place won us over and we spent most of the day just sitting by this lovely scene and enjoying the beauty of the place.

A not so secret garden — but also a great pleasure.

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5 Responses to Not so Secret Garden — Giverny

  1. Jonathan says:

    These are my favorite so far. Flower pictures are so very Monet.

  2. Janet says:

    Get a load of the swan in the next post on the Bois de Bologne. A lot of France just looks like an impressionist painting — go figure.

  3. Amy says:

    Beautiful photos! We learned today (when it was too late) that one can buy tickets in advance at FNAC. The tickets are valid for up to three (or four) months.

  4. Jean says:

    Beautiful photos…I am trying to plan dates now for next year. I loved the wisteria photo. What dates were you have the wisteria blooming. Thanks

    • Janet says:

      We were there in May — the tulips were close to done, but the iris were still in bloom and there were lots of other things in bloom. It really is quite lovely. Be sure to get tickets ahead; I think you can get tickets that are good for a long time so you can plan on the weather.

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