Normandy is tranquil. Picturesque and profoundly rural with its lush rolling pastures. Small farms and oilseed rape flowers.
The maritime Garden of Eden remains a largely untouched paradise. Sprawling across France’s northwest. It is blessed with a stunning natural beauty that once inspired Monet and Boudin.
We are on our way to Deauville in Normandy. Where we are planning to spend an awfully French weekend. Read: a perfect combination of amazing food. Great wine and total laziness. Add spectacular art exhibitions and you know all the reasons for my often visits to this country. LOL
But back to the subject. On our way we planned two stops. First in the scenic Giverny and another in upscale Honfleur.
Giverny is known for the Claude Monet House. Monet drawn to the verdant hills. Woodsy haystacks and lily-strewn river, moved here in 1883. Changed this sleepy village forever. By 1887 Paul Cezanne as well as Cassatt and Sargent. Among many other American painters brought their easels and turned this little town into a colony of artists.
Monet’s house and its famous garden create a truly kaleidoscopic landscape. A perfect mix of colours and textures. From pink stucco. Through purple irises. Orange tulips to the almost white flowers of Japanese cherries.
The garden has two parts. The Walled Garden just outside of the house. Filled with colourful flowers such as oriental poppies, lupins, tulips, herbaceous perennials, roses, trailing nasturtiums and fruit trees.
The Water Garden on the other side of the road has a pond and a bright-green Japanese bridge. A couple of boats similar to those that were featured in some of Monet’s paintings. This garden is planted with huge weeping willows, bamboos, wisterias and famous water lilies.
Museum of Impressionism in Giverny displays the works of Monet, Cezanne, Denis, Delacroix and Signac. While the American Museum of Art presents the works of Sargent, Robinson, Taylor, Bruce, Cassatt and Breck. Even though I’m not the a big fan of Impressionism I thoroughly have enjoyed my visit in Giverny.
Despite of all the famous artists living here and thousands of tourists coming every year Giverny retains its rustic tranquility. The village has two streets on the hillside lined with low houses in a pink and green pebble dash. Charcoal roofs with walls covered with wisterias and five-leaved ivy.
The church in the village is a weird monument of Romanesque origin. Rebuilt in the Gothic period and dedicated to Saint Radegunda. The cemetery by the church holds some ancient Gallo-Roman graves with unique coffins made out of plaster.
It is a lovely little French village really worth visiting.
Another kernel of Impressionism in Normandy is Honfleur. Beloved by artists. Gracious little seaside town with the outstanding Old Dock. Surrounded by picturesque narrow houses almost as colourful as in the days when the great Impressionist master often painted it.
In the 19th century it served as a meeting point. Eugene Boudin who was born here and fellow artists such as Monet, Jongkind and Dubourg gathered here along with poets like Charles Baudelaire.
It is said that Impressionism was borne in this place, in Normandy.
The city has an outstanding museum named after its most famous painter – Boudin. Beside paintings by numerous 19th and 20th century painters holds a collection of Normandy head-dresses, costumes and furniture.
Although the town has many impressive churches. Such as St Catherine, St Etienne, St Leonard, St Stephen, and the Litutenance. The most eye – catching are the Old Docks and its surroundings.
A real delight is to stroll around down the narrow cobbled streets lined with full and half-timber houses. Art galleries and cider shops.
I love this kind of holidays, sunny weather, art, Michelin – starred restaurants and lovely countryside. It doesn’t get any better! Ok, ok it does get better! When you are on the absolutely adventurous traverse through the endless steppes of Kazakhstan. Deserts of Jordan or the backwaters of Kerala. But from time to time I simply need to be a total jet – setter.