Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 4 in Paris - Monet's Garden...

Today we are off to Monet's garden! Up early, breakfast then taxi to Gard St Lazare. We arrived very early and had a wonderful look around the area!  Even managed some shopping - awesome shops here! 
Now we are sitting in a carriage on a train about to head off to Vernon!

Sitting on the train we have time to reflect on highlights and surprises in Paris:
  • Escargot
  • Frogs legs
  • Eateries right on the street
  • Eiffel Tower - absolutely love seeing it and even more so travelling up it, and walking down the bottom two levels!
  • Arc de triomphe - bought back sooo many wonderful memories of my times in French class! I particularly remember 
  • Train trip to Monet's garden
  • Shopping for and eating our French picnic on the banks of the river Seine!
  • Monet's garden itself

  • It seems as if EVERYBODY smokes
  • Transport - seems like absolute total chaos but it works.... Mostly
  • Beauty of the arc de triomphe
  • Height and age of the buildings
  • Wealth of statues, monuments,
  • Ornateness of buildings, 
  • Size of Paris!
  • It seems that only men work and serve in cafes bars and restaurants
On the tour with Kit and Justin. We are getting an appreciation of the history of Monet, the man, the light, the garden, the environment! 
Claude Monet worked fast and captured the light with garden and sight specific painting. Mercurial... Light change, shadow, light, people step into the garden and everything about us is part of the presence! In 1966 the garden was gifted to France.  They removed a lot and left the garden.  It has only been open to the public since 1980.  At the end of the 19th century with e development of brands and the birth of photography in 1839 came great changes! When we saw the first photographs we have light drawing light... The people then said art is dead!  Artists argued that they are giving something more to the image, colour, light, smoke, steam... Emotional landscape was given to us, water's thoughts and moods... Impressionists were not particularly liked or understood.  Back in the time of this artwork people lost themselves in the artwork for a few moments. Artists showed stories in their work. Impressionist artwork is not displayed in the main area of galleries. 

Monet's works, the water gardens are like images  from the floating world! Back n the history of Paris a lot of areas and neighbourhoods were destroyed to make way for the boulevards that make for the beauty we have today. There was a change through Japanese prints around the economy of line, made us see the beauty. Dutch traders bought Japanese print works and it was seen in packing material in pottery etc. and artists started looking at it an were enthral led and influenced and thus was the birth of post Impressionism.  

What does art do for us... It gives us pleasure, it helps us understand things, it invites us to become involved in it.

An existentential crisis happened and Frenchmen battled, the seize of Paris... They ran out of food, although interestingly they never ran out of wine.  1871 end of crisis and other forms followed. 

"These are not paintings, these are mere impressions of paintings," was a phrase used at this time about some of the impressionist artworks!  Claude Monet dodged the draft, he travelled to London and expanded his ideas.  He was inspired by some works by Whistler. 

We arrived at Vernon station and walked over to the village to get our bikes, then visited the marketplace to buy our picnic lunch! What an incredible experience! We managed to assemble a very impressive picnic comprising a baguette, smokes ham, fois pâté, Camembert, strawberries, cherries and a bottle of sparkling cider! All tucked in a cute wooden box on the back of grant's bike off we headed as a group through the village to Giverney! What a glorious ride, well commentated by Kit on the way! We stopped on the banks of the Seine and had the most amazing picnic ever! I really do not remember food tasting soooo good! 

Off we biked into the village. What a totally surreal experience! There were hundreds if not thousands of people at the gardens, but the overwhelming experience was silence, tranquility and peace. The emotional  response to Monet's garden is hard to describe.  The colours, and the play of shadows really are amazing.  We took a HUGE number of photos and tried to capture a glimpse of the essence of the garden.

Visiting the house was another surreal experience. To actually realise that this is the house that Claude Monet spent 43 years is amazing.  To hear the story of this man's life from our extraordinarily passionate guide, Kit is amazing.  I bought two Monet's for my Paris wall and will get some of the photos enlarged.

What a truly surreal day. Sitting on the train back into Paris I am overwhelmed with the experience that this truly has been a MAGICAL day!

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