During lunch the ship slipped around a curve on the Seine and moored within striking distance of Monet’s garden at Giverny. This was one location on the bucket list. I like impressionist art and I like gardens.
It was a stinking hot afternoon – over forty degrees – so I was rather hoping that would tend to deter the crowds. No such luck. The many, many tour groups turned up, anyway. What might have been a pleasant walk in a beautiful cottage garden turned into moving lines of folks and jostles at bottle necks. The famous Japanese bridge was packed with people. Fortunately, it was dry heat, much as I was accustomed to, growing up in Perth. Mind you, in Perth I would have retreated inside and turned on the aircon.
One thing that puzzled me just a little – security did a bag inspection when we entered. Was this like customs when you come back to Australia, looking for bits of plants with bugs on them? Or maybe somebody bringing in a spray bottle of Roundup or such? Nobody checked when we left. I might have stolen some seeds.
Part of the tour was entrance to Monet’s house where a visitor could see the artist’s taste in interior decoration. The entrance was packed with lines of people waiting to get inside. It reminded me very much of our visit to Auschwitz and the throng fighting to get into one of the buildings for a brief glimpse at the exhibits. We decided we could do without and sat on a bench watching the crowd. I felt particularly sorry for the German groups who were clearly not used to this heat.
Like most such places, visitors always had to pass through the gift shop to exit. That meant going through the house, but we found another way into the shop, avoiding the claustrophobic crowds in the house. We passed framed Monet prints, books, postcards, caps, and Tee shirts on the way to the exit to find the designated meeting point. Interestingly, all the items were made in France, not in China. Kudos.
We’d had a senior moment before we left, forgetting to bring drinking water and money. In 40+ temps, that wasn’t smart. We ended up borrowing a twenty from fellow travellers to buy water. Embarrassing. On previous such trips, the tour manager always arranged to have bottles of water on the buses. But in these more environmentally conscious times, we were expected to fill up the (provided) aluminium bottles and bring them with us when we left the ship. I don’t think that was sufficiently stressed, but then, the way the tours were organised left a lot to be desired.
When you’re dealing with large groups of people, it’s best if the individuals know exactly what they’re expected to do. In this case, everybody piled off the ship into the nearest bus. When we got off the bus, we haphazardly joined a group with a lollypop person. The guides had no real idea of how many people they had and nobody knew which bus they’d been on. Yes, the ship recorded which people had left, and when they returned. But apart from that, it was every tourist for her/him self. That became apparent when it was finally time to leave. One of the buses had broken down so one bus would have to do a shuttle run. Naturally, everyone who had arrived at the designated meeting spot earliest wanted to be on that first bus rather than wait another half hour in the heat. We were happy to be in that group.
The garden itself was beautiful. Apparently, Monet originally did the work himself, establishing a kitchen garden to feed his family. When his fame as an artist grew, he was able to employ gardeners and develop a flower garden. The plantings are to his design but of course the plants have had to be replaced over the years. In some respects I was reminded of our garden in Greendale, Victoria, with many familiar flowers. I could happily have wandered around this beautiful place for days. If there had been less people and if it had been cooler.
And here’s a picture of some of my garden at Greendale.
If you’re new to this journey and want to find other parts of the trip, go to France 2022. That page has all the posts.