Visit Giverny and Claude Monet’s house

cultural visits | French culture
Sep 30, 2022
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“I am delighted, Giverny is a splendid countryside for me. “

Painting lovers, nature lovers, city dwellers in need of the countryside, we offer you a day trip to another world. A world apart in the Vexin Normand, 1h30 from Paris, to breathe the pastoral and refreshing air of Giverny, where the artist Claude Monet has laid down his hat, his palette and his brushes for 30 years. For a day, you will live there at your own pace, and discover the beauty of the landscapes that inspired the father of Impressionism.

Leave Paris, direction Normandy with Vacances Actives Linguistiques.

chateau-vaux-le-vicomte

Le Vexin in Normandy, escape and change of scenery

château fort Blandy-les-Tours

From Vétheuil to Giverny: itinerary of an artist in search of inspiration and serenity

Before settling in Giverny, Claude Monet found his first haven of peace in the village of Vétheuil, in the Normandy region of Vexin, where he resided with his first wife Camille. The disturbing bustle of Parisian life and financial difficulties pushed him to escape the capital in the midst of the industrial revolution, and to seek a place of inspiration and withdrawal with his family. 

At the time, Vétheuil was a village in a loop of the Seine, inaccessible by train, an artistic refuge in a pastoral atmosphere which awakened the inspiration and productivity of Claude Monet. He needed to paint quickly and well to earn a living and feed his family. 

chateau-vaux-le-vicomte-dome

The choice of Giverny

After the death of his wife Camille, he left Vétheuil and moved away from the banks of the Seine to reach Giverny, a hamlet with only a few souls. In the heart of rural landscapes and far from the damp mists of the river, he bought an old building that he decorated to his liking and settled there permanently. His room overlooks the Norman Clos, a garden that the master himself has shaped in his image, colourful and composed of hundreds of varieties of flowers. 

The artist will never leave the region again and will exercise his art there until the end of his life. The Vexin is his home port. This region bathed in light allowed him to create his own aesthetic universe, Impressionism, on the banks of the Seine, in the middle of fields and gardens changing with the seasons and the sunshine. 

Normandy and the emblematic motifs of Monet’s painting

Crossing the Vexin, you will observe the nature that Claude Monet represented in his works, a hilly nature, a countryside shaped by agriculture, whose colours change according to the whims of the sky (let’s not forget, we are in Normandy…).

The Seine, the water

Monet often takes refuge on the banks of the Seine, and crosses it freely and slowly, thanks to his workshop boat. The river becomes the central character of many of his works. 

Fascinated by water, its perpetual movement, reflections, and the depth of the water, he distinguishes several images, perpetually changing according to the colour of the sky and the patterns of the season. He even freezes the canvas on a Siberian day: this day when the Seine is taken by snow and ice all in shades of white.

fontainebleau-hotel aigle noir
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Haystacks, the rolling hills of Normandy

Le Vexin was made famous by Claude Monet who painted the agricultural decorations and in particular the haystacks which punctuate the open fields. He portrayed them season after season, hour after hour, in the changing light of morning or evening, before and after the rain. 

Monet’s house: a work in its own right

A house of light and colour

Visiting Claude Monet’s house in Giverny is a journey into the artist’s universe. He put down his palette and brushes there at the age of 43, and painted there for the last 30 years of his life. In this country house, the master seeks to bring in light and create a space open to nature. He paints the shutters green (instead of gray), and the dining room a vibrant yellow – chrome yellow. The room is dazzling with light, and absorbs the south-facing sun. 

The decoration associates Japanese prints with the works of his colleagues and friends: Mirebeau, Sisley, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, Rodin…

Le Clos Normand

The House of Giverny and its garden, the Clos Normand, were fashioned from scratch by Claude Monet so that he has under his eyes all the motifs that inspire him for his painting. 

The garden is treated like a painting and vice versa. The plantings are studied according to the blooms: from one season to another, from morning to evening, the garden changes from a dominant of flowers to warm and then cold colours, from yellow to purple, from irises to suns….

Today it is maintained in accordance with the intentions of the master, by an English gardener.

The water lily pond

In 1893, Claude Monet obtained authorization from the prefect to divert a stream and create a pond. The artist discovers a new aquatic plant, the water lilies, at the Universal Exhibition in Paris and decides to decorate the pond. 

A lover of Japanese prints, Claude Monet draws on Japanese art to create a landscape of bridges, flowers, water, and reflections.

The pond of Giverny became the almost exclusive motif of his painting and gave birth to more than 250 paintings!

barbizon
barbizon

“It took me a long time to understand my water lilies. I cultivated them for fun without thinking of painting them. A landscape does not permeate you overnight. And then all of a sudden I had the revelation of the magic of my pond. I took my palette. Since that time, I have hardly had other models. “

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Monet’s workshops

The artist will finally have 3 separate workshops in Giverny. As soon as he arrived, Monet set up his first workshop in a barn adjoining the house. This was transformed into a salon-gallery a few years later, while a second workshop was created at the end of the lime tree alley.

Finally, in front of the water lilies, Claude Monet switched to another dimension. He abandoned small canvases to devote himself to huge ornamental panels. In 1915, when Europe collapsed and plunged into war, Monet had a third workshop built, with a vast skylight. He exhibited the Great Decorations there.

The artist liked to contemplate his latest creations, to look at the differences in techniques, the treatment of light. Its collection makes art dealers dream! 

No black for Monet.

Suffering from a cataract, his right eye barely sees anymore and his colour vision is affected. The result is canvases bordering on abstract.
In 1926, Monet died in his house in Giverny.

Clemenceau, his greatest friend and neighbour, attends his last moments. It is said that the statesman removed the black fabric placed on the master’s catafalque, and replaced it with a large flowered fabric, declaring: “No black for Monet”. 

“(Claude Monet) created this place so that the world became aware of its beauty.”  – Gaston Bachelard

With our expert guides, the visit of the Giverny house will be a delight, an immersion in the real and pictorial landscapes of Monet. The decor of daily life is brought back to life, with the greatest respect for interior fittings and gardens. It is not just a place of memory or a museum, but a real piece of his work to discover absolutely! An exotic and soothing getaway, perfect for getting away from Paris.

Find all our excursions from Paris, to book online!

Vacances Actives Linguistiques organizes language stays in French to discover French culture and heritage. 

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