If the lazy days of summer could have a poster child, I would make the perfect candidate. Late night movies and even later morning coffees. Easy going schedules, or even better, no schedule at all. Well, all that laid-back living comes to a screeching end on Monday as our kids go back to school. So, I thought what better way to mark the end of all the pleasures of summer than with a trip through Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, a 45-minute drive west of Paris.
Two friends from the States were visiting, and we planned to take the train, but this being France, there was a strike. Rail schedules across the country were cut in half or canceled altogether. Either way, the rental car agencies were happy as could be, and so were we when we found an available car at Sixt in La Defense, on the far western edge of Paris. We were eager for an adventure, but not one that involved risking life and limb, okay, my rental insurance deductible, navigating the traffic circle at the Arc de Triomphe!
Part of our derailed travel plans included picking up picnic supplies and renting bikes in Vernon, then pedaling the half hour to Giverny. Instead, we enjoyed a lovely lunch on the patio at Le Petit Giverny, located right next to the gardens. Seasonal dishes of market fresh veggies and delicious meats grilled simply over an open pit, served with a side of charm by our host. They say travel requires flexibility and we were certainly rewarded for ours.
Next door, the sprawling gardens surrounding Monet’s home are bursting with color and displayed in a very natural style. No perfectly trimmed boxwoods here.Paths wind lazily through the lush landscape surrounding the iconic lily pond, encouraging visitors to linger while they enjoy the wide variety of flora. Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a lovely setting?
You know we’re going to talk a bit of history, so here it is. These beautiful grounds and house are the result of years of restoration beginning in the ’70s. Following Monet’s death in 1926, his son, Michel, inherited the property, but never lived there. Instead, Monet’s step-daughter took care of it. Unfortunately, after World War II, both the house and garden were neglected, leaving both in a terrible state of disrepair. In 1966, Michel left it all to the Academie des Beaux-Arts. Thanks to generous donations, repairs finally began almost a decade later and took nearly as long to complete.
To be perfectly honest, I’m having a terrible time breaking my lazy days habits…it’s now Tuesday and the kids have already started school.