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Monet, Giverny and contagious creativity

Monet's gardens at GivernyThere are certain names in history that are irretrievably connected with certain places. Michelangelo and Rome, Joyce and Dublin, Fitzgerald and New York, Toulouse-Lautrec and Paris, among many others, come to mind. Ties between these names and places are strong, and you find it virtually impossible to imagine one without the other. Places have inspired these individuals and filled them with creative force. And in return, people made the places eternally famous. One such connection is between a great French impressionist painter and a small French village: Monet and Giverny. The symbiosis of the two resulted in pure magic visible in the art of the great man, but also in the feel of the place.

After noticing the small village of Giverny during a train ride, Claude Monet decided to move there and rented the house and its surroundings in 1883. Seeing the area as a place where he could create and experiment with new painting techniques, he moved to today famous pink house and worked tirelessly on creation of a ”perfect” garden, filled with flowers and plants that would grow and bloom throughout the year, allowing him to paint regardless of the season. The rest is history: Giverny became inspiration for some of Monet’s most famous paintings and it is today one of the places that every art enthusiast (and a lover of all things beautiful) should visit sooner or later. The village blooms in beautiful, rich colors: greens, reds, pinks, whites, purples, and if you time your visit carefully, on a beautiful day and under sunny sky, you might feel like you have wandered into a place from a fairy tale, completely dedicated to celebrating the bond between art and nature

Giverny is filled with art galleries and colonies, but the village’s main tourist attractions are Monet’s house and gardens. After overcoming the obstacle of visitors from all over the world, you can take a walk through the artist’s home, a charming place with bright rooms still furnished and decorated in the manner of the end of 19th century, displaying period furniture and arrangement, filled with reproductions of Monet’s paintings as well as family pictures. They are intimate and private, as if you came to visit the old painter but have just missed him. Special features of the house are beautiful views from the windows. You can imagine how inspired the painter must have been to wake up every morning and look out onto the gardens: shapes, colors, images and details must have presented an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Monet's gardens at GivernyMonet’s gardens are truly a story for themselves. You could spend hours wandering around, marveling different types of plants, resting on benches and taking photos, overwhelmed by scenes and compositions that you feel the need to capture. In order to accept tireless streams of tourists, a guided path had to be made around the garden, pointing visitors in circular directions, helping them to see different aspects of the garden and some of its most famous areas, such as the lily ponds and the Japanese footbridge. Guided route also gives you the chance to take a look at the volunteers taking care of the garden, cleaning and arranging the plants, handling them with utmost care and respect. Because in a place like this, nature is the star, and your behavior towards it has to be appropriate.

Long lines of visitors waiting impatiently to have their picture taken at the most beautiful points in the garden ruin the magic a little. However, if you manage to look past the tourists, there are still areas of the garden that you can escape to, that are quiet, contemplative and inspire imagination, areas where you can pause and think about Monet and his art, infinite talent and creativity. The atmosphere and beauty of the place are quite dangerous, because they may make you think that, in a place like this, anyone could feel inspired to become an artist.

Monet's gardens at Giverny

Monet's gardens at Giverny

Exit from the garden takes you through a large gift shop filled with reproductions, posters, umbrellas, books and postcards with Monet’s artwork and details, and you walk around wanting to buy everything. Because you know unconsciously that the pictures you took with your average camera among the hundreds of other people ruining your composition just can’t do justice to where you’ve been and what you’ve seen, and you have to take it as a mission to show everyone back home how beautiful Giverny is. And also, because you feel the need to leave the village carrying tangible images and memories with you: as if the postcards, notebooks and key chains shaped as water lilies that you buy will enclose the parts of the atmosphere and the feelings. If only!

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