The dreamy water-lily ponds created by the supreme Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, gave him his greatest artistic inspiration and have made this little Seine-side village celebrated across the world. Also visit Monet’s other gardens, and his house, with many Japanese prints. In addition, the Giverny Musée des Impressionnismes spreads the artistic net wider.
Giverny is a delightful, typical Norman Seine-side village. It lies on the right, or north, bank of Normandy’s mightiest river, close to the town of Vernon. Were it not for the arrival of Impressionist master Claude Monet in 1883, the village might have remained a quiet provincial backwater. The long years Monet spent here would turn it into a place of artistic pilgrimage, even in his lifetime. He settled at Giverny with his companion Alice Hoschedé. They had both been widowed and their respective children came to live with them.
Monet designed several exuberantly colourful gardens, getting his enlarged new family to help him. His most ambitious project was to create a garden with lily ponds, which caused discontent among some local people, as it involved shifting the course of a stream. Monet was not seeking specific inspiration with this new plan, but once the ponds were flourishing, they led to his very finest paintings –Les Nymphéas, a series loved across the planet, and that put little Giverny on the world map. Monet had become a hugely admired artist by this time. A colony of followers came to visit him in Giverny, changing the face of the village. Monet lived here up until his death in 1926.
Following Monet’s disappearance, his property gradually fell into decline. Thanks to generous donations, especially from wealthy American patron Walter Annenberg, the house and gardens were beautifully restored. They have become a magnet for huge numbers of tourists, along with a second, related art museum, also set up thanks to generous American donors. Franco-American artistic links go back a long way at Giverny. American Impressionist Theodore Butler became a good friend of Monet’s here and would, in due course, marry two of his stepdaughters. The picturesque village of Giverny still draws artists as well as an art-loving crowd, as you can see from its galleries, plus it has many welcoming teashops and restaurants.