“Have you ever seen Monet’s water lilies?” asked my friends. Have I ever seen them? I’ve seen them plenty of times indeed. Monet painted 250 of them, and they are on exhibit in major museums all over the world. And then there’s Musée de l’Orangerie in Garden of Tuileries which is home to 8 of Monet’s murals.
It turns out that my friends were talking about the “actual water lilies”.
We took the underground to arrive in Gare St Lazare on a beautiful sunny day. All around us people are rushing to catch their trains. One has to be determined in order not to get lost in the crowds. A little elbow here, a little push there and we managed to get to a ticket booth:
“3 tickets for Vernon s’il vous plait”
“Off to Giverny then?”
Reacting to my blank expression as to how in world he’d know where we are heading to, ticket agent motions his head towards the platform where we see plenty of tourists, all nervous not to pick the wrong train, trying to get bits and pieces of a PA in French. So it seems everyone knows about this place, everyone except me that is.
It took only 30 minutes to leave Paris behind and another 10 minutes in a shuttle to arrive in colorful little village of Giverny.
Monet apparently had seen the village the first time while looking out of a train window. He hadn’t needed much convincing to rent a house in 1883 and move in with his big family. I totally get him. With its grey French countryside houses, all kinds of ﬂowers pouring out of gardens, windows, balconies, Giverny is gorgeous. We couldn’t believe that merely 40 minutes ago we were pushing our way out of a subway station ﬁlled with grumpy people.
We had no difﬁculty ﬁnding Monet’s house, big queue of people tipped us off. We didn’t mind waiting, village itself was very charming after all. Once we bought our tickets and entered the garden we felt dazzled by colors. All sorts of ﬂowers, all sorts of colors and among them stood the pink house with green shutters. It was so charming that it could only exist in a fairy tale. We snapped pictures of ﬂowers, pursued the bees, sat on a bench and took the scents in, closed our eyes and dreamt. We were curious to see inside the house but not before seeing the famous water lilies which inspired the great impressionist.
Monet lived and painted here for the last 30 years of his life. Once he started earning decently from his paintings, he bought the house. Apparently he loved Giverny so much that he insisted on being buried in the village cemetery with a simple ceremony. And that’s exactly what happened after he died of lung cancer.
When we reached the pound filled with water lilies’, we felt like we were in the middle of a giant live Monet painting. Yes, we had seen this before. Monet depicted this scene over and over again, before and after his cataract surgeries and we knew it by heart. But being there physically was pure magic. It sure was inspiring, too bad I have no talent of my own. But I got to yake pictures. That counts for something, right?
As time to go back to real life approached we stepped into his house. We admired the view once again through a second ﬂoor window this time, old wooden ﬂoor cracked with each of our steps, yellow painted kitchen looked warm and inviting… Well there is an end to every dream and that was where our dream ended and we headed back to the world of crowded subway tunnels and grumpy people who are in constant rush. Not all of us get to live in paradise on earth and paint.