Thank You France


Emerging from election stress and heavy weather… This is where I wanted to be the day after  Macron was elected, immersed in the light of one of the great souls of France at Giverny…May 8th is a national holiday here (V-E Day) so the place was packed with French and international tourists, it was rainy and cold, but this living masterpiece, wonder of the world, was still perfect. Thank you France xxxxxx Aliss

Giverny October


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) :dsc03009

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:image

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:dsc03012

A corner of his studio, reproductions of his private art collection:


Dining room:




View from front steps:dsc03015

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!

xxxxx Aliss


My life inside an impressionist painting (shimmer)

Early autumn, Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19dsc02968

If you contemplate Monet’s waterlilies and then turn your gaze back to the present world, everything seems to glow with an inner light, especially here, near where he painted, at about the 50th parallel, a similar latitude to Quebec and Seattle, much farther north than the Washington, DC suburb where I was born, so much closer to the equator. When I first came here, I had no idea what this meant. Something felt “off”…not quite the way it was supposed to be, grayer, muted. In time I understood that the closer you are to the poles, sunlight enters the atmosphere more at a slant, with less intense luminosity, and perhaps a prismatic effect depending on the weather. You have to seek out radiance everywhere you can, but once your eyes adjust, you learn to detect a shimmer in the air, a subtle sparkle in each color…

To be continued…. xxxxx Aliss

My life inside an impressionist painting (cont.)


…From the documentary at the Orangerie museum about Monet’s Waterlily vision: he first imagined creating an immersive environment in 1897 but was unable to work on it for years, grieving for his wife and son, losing his sight to cataracts, then undergoing eye surgery. As war raged across Europe, he was possessed by an almost supernatural energy,  constructing a huge atelier in Giverny to house the panels, now twice the size he originally planned. Encouraged by his friend, the statesman Clémenceau, he completed the canvases  at the end of World War I, as a gift to the people of France and everywhere, as a sanctuary amid the alienating aspects of our modern world.

Clémenceau and Monet chose the Orangerie building both for its location by the Seine, the river flowing through Giverny and Monet’s life,  and also because it stands in  a garden, the Tuileries, on an East-West axis, like Paris itself, aligned with cycles of day and night depicted in the paintings.

I want to see my world as Monet saw, alive with light… past, present, future, eternity in every moment.

xxxxx Aliss