Sunday, October 9, 2011

In Monet's Garden

As summer slides into autumn, I find myself thinking wistful thoughts about our lovely trip to France. One of the early and many high points of the trip was our visit to Monet's home and garden in Giverny, a destination we had been hankering after since the girls were very little. From a young age, the girls enjoyed reading about Linnea and her Giverny expedition. Plus we are regulars at the Impressionist galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Color is clearly the dominant theme of the artist's homestead. The sunken living room with its tall windows and expansive wall space for paintings was very evocative. However, we loved the yellow room and the blue kitchen most of all. Using architectural means, these spaces bring Monet's feeling for color inside. Even the more sedate rooms have windows that look out over the garden. Edged with wood, each one frames the view like a picture. A wild contrast to the closely cropped landscapes we are accustomed to in Japan, Monet's property was an overgrown, exuberant outburst of growth. Laced with paths, the garden has some small lawns but it is the flowers that draw the eye. The management explains that this profusion may not have existed during Monet's time yet the slightly untamed nature of his property is probably pretty true to form.

Monet's famous foot bridge looked just as it does in his paintings but it did not really seem Japanese to us. Also, today the pond is separated from the rest of the garden by a road that was not extant during Monet's time. A tasteful underground passage connects the two halves but this is certainly not the way the artist experienced his domain.

After exploring the tiny town, we got back on the train and went to Rouen per a good friend's suggestion. What a charming spot with its half-timber buildings and medieval clock tower. We bought a small bag of caramel pearls at one of the local confectioners. Truly the best chocolates I have ever eaten in my life. Bar none. Hollow chocolate balls filled with creamy caramel inside and dusted with crunchy sugar granules on the outside. Regrettably, we did not discover their goodness until a day or two later when we were already back in Paris and those luscious taste treats were miles away. We did investigate the possibility of ordering but have yet to confirm whether they ship internationally. Sadly I do not even have a picture to show you. But I can take you on a tour of flowers from Monet's garden.

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