Why would anyone go to Giverny at the end of October just before it closes for winter? Because I made a list of places to search for the Soul of France (see Sept. 28 post). Number 1: the Orangerie Museum with Monet’s Waterlilies, Number 2: Giverny, 2+ hours from where I live in northeast Paris: Metro, Train, bus, walk. Not sure what I would find at this time of year. Partly cloudy, a few rays of sunshine, rain forecast. Pleasant surprise, train and bus not crowded, people fairly relaxed, most actually speaking French. Arrive in the parking lot, get off the bus and walk through the village, streets almost empty. Just in case, experience has taught me to arrive between 11:30 and 12, have a bite at Les Nymphéas and then slip inside the gardens when everyone is elsewhere for lunch. This time, instead of the lovely salmon salad, I let the waiter talk me into the plat du jour, designed for descendants of 9th century Viking invaders (rôti de porc à la sauce normande, vegetable flan, mashed potatoes, apples) :
Of course it was too much food, and all those calories felt like a roaring furnace in my belly afterwards, but that turned out to be just fine as I sat beside the lily pond in the muted fall light, totally immersed in chilly beauty:
Then the sun came out. Yes, the Soul of France is here, incarnated for a few decades in Claude Monet, now living on as his gardens and house:
A corner of his studio, reproductions of his private art collection:
View from front steps:
When I was leaving 4 hours later, the bus driver called me “mademoiselle” and I laughed because that morning as I was buying my train ticket at Saint Lazare station, a young clerk asked me if I had a discount (did he mean “Senior” ?!) I didn’t take it personally because I was a sleepy mess, but does Giverny have rejuvenating powers in addition to opening our senses and spirit? To find out, I recommend visiting in October :-)))
PS Having the place almost all to myself, I saw things I never saw before, such as a sign pointing to Monet’s grave at the Sainte Radegonde (!) church located on the other side of the village. Too bad, have to go back in the Spring!