Last week’s blog post was all about our wonderful and surprising visit to the islands of Guernsey and Jersey in the English Channel. Although quick it was really lovely. We left Jersey by ferry and made our way to France for our next adventure, Monet’s Giverny and A Wee Bit More.
First a Quick Visit to Saint Malo
We made our way to France and the ancient walled city of Saint Malo for one night only. We arrived midday and were able to enjoy the beauty of this historic city, the beach and a dinner of mussels and frites – a well known dish from the region.
The next morning we rented a car and enjoyed a leisurely drive across the north of France, leaving Brittany and coming to Normandy. This area has so much to see, including Caen and the magnificent Mont St. Michel. But since we have visited here a few times before we decided to stop only in two places my husband had never seen. Beautiful Bayeux which reminds me of the village in Beauty and the Beast and is home to the remarkable tapestry depicting the battle of William the Conquerer. We also made a brief stop at the Omaha Beaches and the American Cemetery at Normandy. I highly recommend these things when in Normandy.
On to Giverny
Giverny has been on my bucket list for a decade, and we were set to visit in June 2020, but the pandamit changed all of that. So on this trip it was a high priority to tick it off the list, finally. What a magnificent place, not just Monet’s Garden but the teeny village, our remarkable hotel and one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Monet’s Giverny and A Wee Bit More.
O Plum Art
I booked this boutique hotel just a week or so in advance and I am so glad we got in because it is tiny and spectacular. Only three rooms inside a historic farm house, but totally renovated and decorated in modern light colors. It was really lovely. And the breakfast the next morning was out-of-this-world good. You can make a reservation for O Plum Art here.
The Village of Giverny
I was surprised to find that Giverny is not really a town. It is just Monet’s Gardens, and historic homes – most which have been converted to inns and restaurants. Giverny is really just one main street, a few little shops and lots of great history including an ancient church. Behind the church is Monet’s tomb.
Le Jardin des Plumes
In association with our sweet little hotel, we booked a table for dinner at the companion restaurant down the street. The Chef and his family run the restaurant as well as two small inns. The restaurant is incredibly unique. You don’t really have a menu. Instead you choose if you want three, five or seven courses. We chose five courses, which were all small courses. But in addition to the five courses we had at least another 10 small “bites”. It was sublime. We ate literal works of art in every mouthful. Our five courses were Halibut, Chicken with Mushroom Soup, Tomato/Lobster, Beef Tongue with Pickles and an apricot dessert. Absolutely incredible. In addition our special bites included oysters, salmon candy, apple sorbet, cod balls and so much more. I have shared several photos here and if you visit Giverny I cannot recommend this highly enough. Be sure to make a reservation at Le Jardin des Plumes
By the way our breakfast at O Plum Art was done by the same chef of this amazing dinner. No surprise it was so good.
Finally Monet’s Garden
I’ve written before about My Favorite Gardens Around the World. Visiting renown gardens is one of the things we try to do in many of the destinations we go to. Gardens tell a story of history, culture and art – all wrapped in a colorful canvas. Monet’s Giverny was all that and more.
In 1883 Claude Monet acquired land next to his home in Giverny to create a water garden. He diverted water from the nearby Ru river. Monet’s masterpieces of his waterlily collections were painted at this water garden. The garden expanded for years and through his middle and late years Monet painted what he sowed.
Unlike many of the highly manicured gardens found in the French chateaus, Monet’s Giverny is a riot of color and texture. The garden changes throughout the season and is designed in color blocks but also includes trees, bamboo, roses and of course, the waterlilies.
Monet died in 1926 at 86 years old. He had been in Giverny for more than half his life, and the gardens were mature and substantial by that time. The houses and outbuildings flowed seamlessly with the gardens throughout the 2 and a half acres.
Today the garden’s and the house are managed by the Foundation Claude Monet . The gardens are cared for year-round but are only open to the public April 1st to November 1st. We enjoyed seeing it in the fall, when everything was still in bloom but also a bit large and chaotic and overgrown. It was both dazzling and disordered and I loved it.
A Few Tips For Monet’s Giverny and A Wee Bit More
Come in the fall or spring when there are less visitors. The tour buses and groups seem to arrive in the morning, so wait to enter until a bit later. Allow two hours at least and don’t miss going inside the house to see how Monet and his family lived and his collection of priceless art from well known painters. We arrived at 10:30 in the morning, did the full walk on our own, and then did it again because the tour groups had left and it was much quieter. I loved the second time around because we noticed new things. I took photos of many plants I’d like to add to my own garden.
You can make this a day trip from Paris (many people do) but again I recommend staying, strolling, eating and breathing the beauty of Monet’s Giverny and A Wee Bit More.
See last week’s post about Visiting the English Channel Islands Guernsey and Jersey here. Be sure to check back next week to read about Eating Our Way Through Paris.
See this week’s top performing pin here Fabulous Travel Wardrobe with Just One Suitcase.
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