I’d prepared myself for slight disappointment at Monet’s garden in Giverny. Gardens are supposed to be places of relaxation and quiet reflection, ideally not shared with thousands of photographers falling over each other and tumbling into the waterlilies.
Much as I love his paintings, and enjoy excellence in garden design, I knew we’d have to share the moment with others.
I’m pleased to report that the impression was not marred too much by teeming masses.
Here’s our morning, in broad brush strokes…
Ten minute ride from Vernon to the bus park, follow guide Christophe holding lollipop number 3, along the walking path ‘obligatoire’ across the stream that feeds the waterlily pond, down the steps, under the motorway with the trucks and buses that cuts across the garden, down the main street of Giverny, past the cafes, the ateliers, file right down the alley, everybody still got their tickets?
Through the gates, turn right, shuffle down the steps back under the motorway, up the other side, follow the arrow…and there’s the lily pond. There’s a hush. We’re impressed. We fall silent.
We file around the path…
The Japanese bridge has real Japanese people on it.
I try to see the waterlilies as Monet depicted them.
Then it’s back down the steps under the motorway, up into the flower garden by the house.
We string out, lagging behind our guide, everyone with a camera looking for the perfect flower shot. There are plenty of peonies, roses, poppies in full bloom. In August it’s ‘one person per flower’, according to Christophe.
Now we go into the house, no photography allowed please, but looking out the bedroom window is permitted. Wait in line for your turn, then…
Exit through the gift shop, posters, place mats, boxed sets, calendars…
Then back up through the village past the field of poppies on the right.
…to the church where the master lies buried with other members of the family. Rest in peace.
The writer was the guest of Viking River Cruises.