Further down the Seine we stopped at Giverny to spend the end of the afternoon in Monet’s gardens.
Coachloads of Asian and American visitors were disgorged at the bottom of the village and we charged along with them up and into the narrow yellow stone-walled lanes that hid pretty petite maisons, stone terraced cottages and glass and steel grand designs from eager, prying eyes.
Despite crowds of visitors of all nationalities, and the sense of our being thrown without preparedness into the crucible of a global tourist attraction, the planting and space and light of Monet’s vision worked its magic, and brought calm to the otherwise frenetic mass of people.
Tulips and wisteria were in fulsome bloom and the lines of flower beds were blended in harmonious colours of blues, pinks, purples, reds and tropical ambers, oranges and yellows. It was a magical time to visit.
Wandering through them a gravel path sent us back underneath the village road to emerge into the water gardens framed with bamboo and willow trees and bedded with hostas and hellibores as well as spring flowers of blue bells and narcissus. It was captivating.
Although not yet in flower the shining leaves of the lily pads bobbed along the waters underneath the green-painted bridges that crossed the ponds and stream. In a quiet corner two coracles rested up alongside the river bank.
It wasn’t hard to imagine a sun-hatted Monet strolling along the waterside, a smoke in hand, and admiring the attainment of his artistic vision in planting.
As the skies darkened people poured into the brightly coloured and themed rooms of Monet’s iconic pink and green village house where he had welcomed a revolving salon of artists, thinkers and purchasers of his giant painted canvases.
The rains broke as we jogged through the rather swanky upper village and back to the free aire at the back of the coach car park.
Happily, a local cider maker was just shutting up his mobile shop so we bought a bottle of cidre to toast a truly memorable experience and an inspiration for garden pots at home! See more pictures here: