We had a wonderful, if frenetic, two days courtesy of Newmarket Holidays and saw some amazing sights. We stayed at the Best Western, St Quentin, Maurepas, an adequate hotel where they were oddly very precious about how many croissants one ate at breakfast, and woe betide guests if you messed up the ticket system, as I managed to!
Our first trip was to Monet's magnificent gardens at Giverny. Now, I hate to be a typical moaning Brit abroad, but really, the National Trust would do it so much better!
Monet moved to the idyllic village of Giverny in 1883 where he began work on the garden that inspired him for more than 43 years. Ten years after moving in, Monet bought a neighbouring piece of land where he created his water gardens, inspired by the Japanese gardens he loved so much. Sadly today the gardens are separated by a busy road and accessed by a dreary underpass.
Apparently 500,000 people visit during the seven months that the gardens are open so I doubt whether it is ever possible to wander around without hoards of tourists, but I couldn't help but wonder if there might be better ways of handling the traffic. Yes, the guide at the door did hold back the crowds, but for nowhere near long enough and there didn't appear to be a ceiling on how many people were allowed in the house at any one time as everyone pushed and jostled up the stairs and through the rooms.
The water gardens are breathtakingly beautiful and despite the hundreds of visitors it was still possible to take unspoiled photos, but unfortunately the iconic Japanese bridge was never free of people. Another suggestion - why not have a guide in place who can occasionally stop the flow of traffic here as well.
The house and gardens were beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. However, if you were hoping to garner a flavour of how the property might have felt during Monet's time, you would be out of luck.
So my helpful suggestions would be - traffic control through the house and on the Japanese bridge and cheer up that dank, depressing underpass. There's this French Impressionist artist who painted stonking great big pictures of water lilies that would look really great reproduced here.
The iconic Japanese bridge.
With photographs prohibited in the house it's fortunate there is this one on the official website of the yellow dining room.
Monet's favourite watering hole in the village of Giverny.
The parish church in Giverny