Went for Monet’s garden, left loving the dining room

Monet's garden and pond
Monet’s garden at Giverny is a study of textures, form and color. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

A little over a year ago, I boarded a bus across the street from Tuileries Garden and the Louvre in Paris. I was off on a half-day tour to Monet’s garden and home in Giverny.

I went for the garden but left loving the home, especially the beautiful dining room, which overlooks the landscape. The home epitomizes Country French, with tiles, color schemes and furnishings, from pottery to pots and pans, comfy couches and chairs. The Japanese prints that adorn the walls seem like an anomaly. Even though Monet never traveled to the Land of the Rising Sun, he cherished and displayed its art.

Did they live there?

blue and white tile monet's dining room
Blue and white tile frame the fireplace in Monet’s dining room. Japanese prints adorn the walls. (C) Photo Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Sometimes when I tour the homes of long-dead famous people, it’s hard to imagine them actually living there in the same way I live in mine…Sunday papers strewn on the floor, cups on the coffee table, NPR on the radio and a dog on the couch, for instance.

Monet’s home, although meticulously cared for, looks lived in. You can visualize him puttering around the dining room, kitchen and studio. You can visualize him in his gardens, searching for the right light, flower and color combination to take brush to canvas.

And like any good landscape, his was designed to create views from inside the house, as well as from pathways on the grounds. That’s something we can all try at home.

Monet's dining epitomizes Country French. (C) Photo Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Exotic and familiar plants

Yes, the famous garden is filled with the irises and the pond with water lilies, whose beauty Monet captured in his art. There were lots of plants we’d recognize, such as redbud, bamboo, wisteria, smoke bush and rhododendron. The bamboo is used on site to create attractive, low railings along pathways. There also were many plants I did not recognize.

And there were plants that surprised me, ones that we know better than to put in our gardens. The invasive dame’s rocket flourished within flowerbeds and the aggressive bishop’s goutweed lined pathways.

The home and gardens were crowded. From what I’ve read, crowds are the biggest complaint from tourists. Still, with patience you could see the views you came for. Wonder if the powers-that-be have thought about timed admissions. Paris City Vision made it easy to book its tour online and everything was on time, but not rushed. Not too much talking by the guide on the bus, either.

I’m so glad I went. I was reminded of these memories today, when I pulled the Giverny dish towel from the drawer. Exactly what a souvenir is supposed to do.

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