The Giverny Gardens: A Visit to Claude Monet’s Sanctuary

The Giverny Gardens: A Visit to Claude Monet’s Sanctuary
For a year, a wild wind of uncertainty has blown through all of our lives. As we enter the second year of the pandemic, many of us are desperate for escapism and travel dreams. Last June 19th, after the first unprecedented three-month lockdown in France, I had a deep desire to lighten my mood. One of the timeless treasures of Normandy was the perfect place to invigorate my senses: Claude Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny. Walking through a vibrant living painting lifted my spirits in an immeasurable way. Here I wish to share my favorite photographs illustrating the realm of the founder of the Impressionism. I hope that this visual journey will spur your imagination and satisfy your wanderlust as a new Spring is fast approaching. The house and the gardens in Giverny tell an authentic story about Claude Monet’s creative mind and the spirit of the Impressionism art movement. The quaint village of Giverny is located on the north side of the River Seine on the edge Normandy’s greenery. It’s situated between Paris and Rouen, the capital of Normandy, inextricably linked to Impressionism. The site attracts more than half a million visitors each year from all over the world. According to the Foundation in Giverny, 719,000 people visited in 2019. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the numbers dropped to 165,000. The site has been listed as a historic monument since April 1976. The water garden © Sarah Fauvel The term “Impressionism” was born as a result of both a misjudgment and mockery made by the journalist and art critic Louis Leroy about the aesthetics of Monet’s painting entitled “Impression, Sunrise” (Impression, Soleil Levant) exhibited for the very first time in the studios of a famous photographer of the time, Nada. The journalist’s sarcastic article was published under the heading “The Exhibition of the Impressionists.” The Impressionists demonstrated their extraordinary skills at plein-air painting. They carefully studied nature, with a deep appreciation of light, to capture fleeting moments. Monet brilliantly mastered the play of sunlight with the variations of colors at any time of the day. “Color is my day long obsession, joy and torment,” he said once. He was also passionate about gardening and was enthralled by reflections of clouds on water. He arrived at Giverny in 1883 and lived with his family there for 43 years until his death in 1926. “These landscapes of water and reflections have become an obsession… I hope something will come out of so much effort” – Claude Monet The Water Garden

Lead photo credit : Water lilies © Sarah Fauvel

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Sarah Fauvel hails from Rouen, Normandy. She is a Paris-based journalist, editorial and fine art photographer, her longtime passion. The beauty of Normandy (birthplace of Impressionism) and her grandfather's art imbued her childhood with artistic vitality. From an early age, Sarah has found inspiration for photography and writing while walking in the footsteps of these artists. She has developed visual storytelling and writing expertise over the course of her career. She loves to tell stories through images and informative captions. Her photos have been displayed in an association dedicated to the international community based in Paris. She has previously lived in the United States.