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Giverny Travel Guide

Giverny is a village in the Eure region of France known as the birthplace of impressionist painting. Giverny has been inhabited since Neolithic times, as evidenced by tombs and monuments uncovered. There have also been archaeological finds dating back to Gallo-Roman times. Up until much of the 19th century, Giverny was not much larger than a settlement of a few hundred.[1] The village grew into a town, however, after Claude Monet rented a barn and building in 1883 and turned it into a working studio. Giverny was transformed from a hillside village nestled in the Epte Valley into a universally famous destination.[2]

Today, Giverny is home to one of Normandy’s most cherished tourist attractions – the Impressionist School founded by Claude Monet. The school is popular worldwide. More popular among transient travelers, however, is the artist’s home and gardens, which welcome over 400,000 visitors every year, mostly during the spring and summer months. The estate has a long façade created by a balcony-promenade and is populated by bright rose trees, greeneries, pink pebbledashes, and ivy geraniums.[3]

After Claude Monet’s death, the property passed to his second son who bequeathed it to the Academy of Fine Arts upon his death in 1966. The Claude-Monet Foundation took hold of it and reconstructed the estate to resemble what it had been during the artist’s lifetime. The bedrooms, studios, and kitchens all have the original paint colors as they were in Monet’s days. Even the Japanese engravings Monet carved on the walls have been restored. The gardens feature some extremely rare flowers mixed in with common breeds, but all the species are of those planted by Monet. The pond in the water garden, crossed by a Japanese bridge, has been cleaned and blooms every spring with the water lilies Monet famously painted. He created the pond by diverting a branch of the Epte River long ago. Every year, Monet’s estate is a pilgrimage for visitors, including worshiping artists. Some of them come to receive the same inspiration that Monet drew from. Most people ignore, however, the nearby cemetery where Monet’s tomb has lain since 1926. [4]

Close to Monet’s house, you’ll find a white stone construction in the thick of a garden that houses the twin of the Terra Museum of Chicago. It was founded by Daniel Terra and his wife with the purpose of raising public awareness for American painters who were inspired by France. These artists came to the country during the Impressionist period and visited Giverny frequently. Most of them were ignored by Monet, except for Lilla Cabot Perrit, who arrived and gave the French artist significant advice related to the designing of his garden. Even today, artists have chosen to settle in Giverny because of its reputation and legacy as a painting town. Most of the Impressionists back in the day stayed in the Hotel Baudy, which today houses Giverny’s third museum and art gallery.[5]

Gaudez, René, Hervé Champollion, and Angela Moyon. Tour of Normandy. Rennes: Éditions Ouest-France, 1996. ISBN: 2737317185.

“Giverny.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giverny>

[1] Giverny
[2] Gaudez, 90
[3] Id.
[4] Id. at 90-91
[5] Id. at 91

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