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GORGEOUS GIVERNY: Tourism finally blooms at Monet Gardens

Like theatre shows that weren’t seen and symphonies that went unheard, the splendours of impressionist painter Claude Monet’s house and gardens were locked away while the coronavirus pandemic raged in France.

After a closure of more than six months, the gardens at Giverny that inspired Monet’s world-famous paintings of water lilies and other masterpieces have at last reopened.

They join French cafés, restaurants, cinemas, and museums in being allowed to once again welcome customers and visitors who are eager for life to resume.

The riot of colour, perfumes, and birdsong at Giverny is a delight for senses dulled by months of hunkering down, a tonic for pandemic and lockdown blues. This week the gardeners were furiously weeding, mowing, sweeping, and planting to make the gardens picture-perfect.

In his prized water garden where Monet spent hours contemplating the reflections of light and colour, the wisteria that he had planted is blooming on the Japanese-style footbridge, and falling in a violet cascade to the pond.

Monet’s painting of the bridge

Early spring blooms — daffodils, hyacinths, early flowering tulips — have already come and gone, enjoyed by the gardeners only.

“It’s frustrating because the garden has its meaning when we are sharing it,” said Claire-Hélène Marron, on the team of 11 permanent gardeners. “We put a lot of effort into making it spectacular and trying to recreate the impressionist paintings.”

With stunning success. Now blooming and competing for attention, irises in all hues from deep purple to light blue look like they were painted by Monet himself.

In 2019, before the pandemic, 717,000 visitors streamed through Giverny during its seven-month season from April 1. Half came from overseas.

Giverny is initially to be allowed to welcome only 200 visitors to the house and gardens per hour, fewer than normal. Those lucky few will be guided on a one-way route starting at the water garden with its lilies and finishing, as such tours do, in the souvenir shop.

Monet’s House

First published at Travel Industry Today

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