One of my dreams came true this past weekend. I was lucky enough to go to Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, France. Even though I have been coming to France since I was 18 years old, I have never managed to make it the hour outside of Paris to his house. It’s kind of a schlep, but totally worth it. I was totally in my element. Old beautiful house, lots of sunshine, flowers, flowers and more flowers, chickens, kitty cats running around, pond, art and artists! I am definitely more “country mouse” than “city mouse.”
I was completely blown away with the flowers. The subtle deliberateness of the color combinations is what really moved me. The purple tulips with the periwinkle blue flowers that I don’t know the name of. The yellow with the orange. The green with the pink. The white with the yellow. It was absolutely magical. My absolute most favorite flower of the entire garden was a single green, pink and white parrot tulip. There was also a white tulip with stripes of yellow that look like someone actually painted it on.
The Lily Pond with the green bridge and purple lilacs! It doesn’t get better than that. It’s always better to experience places like this in person because pictures do not do it justice. For example, in the Lily Pond were these frogs that made a sound like they were laughing. They were probably laughing and saying, “We are so happy to live here!”
Finally, we make our way up to the house. I have been waiting my entire life to go into this house. Guess what? No handicap ramp. My first thought was to sue them. That’s how upset I was. The house attendant saw how sad and pathetic I appeared and offered to help carry my wheelchair up the stairs. Thank God for the kindness of others. I entered the house into the foyer and glanced to my right and saw with my very own eyes that immortalized yellow dining room. A moment of silence, please. Do you ever get that feeling of complete awe when you realize that you are in the exact same spot where, in this case, Monsieur Claude Monet occupied the same space you are currently in. The experience is never lost on me.
“One of the most influential painters of modern times, Claude Monet lived for half his life in the famous house at Giverny. It was after moving here in 1883 with his future second wife, Alice Hoschede, and their eight children that Monet's work finally achieved recognition. His growing success meant that he was able to indulge his passion for comfort and good living.Family meals, special celebrations, luncheons with friends, picnics: all reflected the Monets' love of good food. Just as the inspiration for many of Monet's paintings was drawn from his beloved gardens and the surrounding Normandy landscape, so the meals served at Giverny were based upon superb ingredients from the kitchen-garden (a work of art in itself), the farmyard, and the French countryside.A moody, reserved, and very private man whose daily routine revolved totally around his painting, Monet nevertheless enjoyed entertaining his friends, many of whom were leading figures of the time. As well as his fellow Impressionists -- in particular Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Cezanne -- other regular guests included Rodin, Whistler, Maupassant, Valery, and one of Monet's closest friends, the statesman Clemenceau.They came to dine in almost ritual form, first visiting Monet's studio and the greenhouses, then having lunch at 11:30 (the time the family always dined, to enable Monet to make the most of the afternoon light). Tea would later be served under the lime trees or near the pond. Guests were never invited to dinner; because Monet went to bed very early in order to rise at dawn. All the guests were familiar with Monet's rigid timetable.The recipes collected in his cooking journals include dishes Monethad encountered in his travels or had come across in restaurants he frequented in Paris as well as recipes from friends, such as Cezanne's "bouillabaisse" and Millet's "petits pains."For this book, the author Claire Joyes, wife of Madame Monet's great-grandson, has spent years selecting the Monets' favorite recipes and writing a wonderfully evocative introductory text. All of the recipes have been artfully prepared and brought back to life in Monet's own kitchen by master chef Joel Robuchon.Illustrated with sumptuous reproductions of Monet's paintings, spectacular original four-color photographs of Giverny, selected shots of finished dishes, and facsimile pages from the notebooks themselves, this book provides a fascinating and unique insight into the turn-of-the-century lifestyle of one of the world's most celebrated Impressionist painters.”See! Isn’t this an incredible book. It’s available in my Have Some Decorum bookstore.
These are replicas of the china that Monet used. Gorgeous beyond belief. Both of the sets of china were available at the gift shop. Très cher. I bought a little dish in the blue chinoiserie pattern, Creil Montereau.
The room off of the dining room was the blue tiled kitchen. It was everything you could imagine of a French farmhouse kitchen. Terra-cotta floors, tiled walls, industrial stove, copper pots, little farm table, windows with blue and white gingham curtains out to the garden, sweet smells of the garden wafting in, cat sitting at the open door. OMG!
Okay, by now, in reading my blog you must realize how much I love a gift shop. How about a gift shop in the exact same space as where Monet created his water lilies! Honestly, I would not have cared if I suddenly stopped breathing and died there. After raping the gift shop of books, postcards and dishes, we decided to take a little walk through the town of Giverny.
Charming is an understatement of the little town. There were little art galleries, museums, antique stores, cafés, little bar and a little secret garden with a small atelier where Monet and other artists used to paint.
Monet’s house and garden, and the little town of Giverny is a definite must-see. If you don’t agree, you should stop reading my blog because we have absolutely nothing in common.