Aero: Giverny, France – First Impressions

Aero: Giverny, France - First Impressions via The LEAF Project

Aero: Giverny, France – First Impressions via The LEAF Project

Aero: Giverny, France – First Impressions via The LEAF Project

Bonjour! First of all, I must apologize for taking so long to post—apparently Internet access can be somewhat tricky in rural France. I’ve had some amazing experiences in the past week, but before anything else I have to share my thoughts on the local scenery and Monet’s gardens.

The village of Giverny appears to be something from a fairy tale; narrow winding streets with the occasional passing Peugeot, old stone architecture covered with fragrant roses and honeysuckle flowers. It seems customary to greet every passerby on the street, and even from the window of my residence I can hear the murmur of friendly bonjours and bonsoirs.

Claude Monet considered his landscapes here to be his greatest work, and this was obvious to me as soon as I arrived. Stepping into the artist’s gardens, one can see the work of a true Impressionist. Rather than using the sweeping lines and grandeur that typified the late 1800s garden design, he planted tightly spaced beds and filled them with riots of color. Monet referred to his gardens as a ‘paintbox,’ and decorated his home in color schemes that would have shocked his contemporaries. The back door is bordered by pink and red geraniums, planted side by side in accordance with his original plans.

What a rebel.

I must say, however, that my favorite component of Monet’s design is the poppy infestation. My supervisor has explained to me that many of the French consider poppies to be weeds. In Giverny, they shamelessly invade gardens, march through cobblestones and gravel driveways, and are considered no more valuable than dandelions. But in the artist’s garden, the poppies (known as coquelicot) are permitted to run free because of their beautiful color—whether his visitors liked them or not.

The French disdain for the seemingly innocent coquelicot amuses me, particularly as they are one of my favorite flowers. More importantly, I love Claude Monet’s proud disregard for matching, monetary value, and the popular opinion—and his ability to let nature take its course. Being in Giverny, I am inspired by the works of Monet and the countless other visionaries this nation has produced.

Well, I must get to bed, so the rest will have to wait until later.  À bientôt!

(Ed. – Feel free to ask questions or comment below! What would you like to know about living, learning, and working as an American in France?)

(Ed. To view Emily’s Flickr photo pool from France, visit the following link!)