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friday archives, part 12

February 28, 2014

following up last week’s photo edits of our week in paris,

this week i take you to the incredibly delightful countryside of normandy.

these photos are all taken in giverny,

home of impressionist master claude monet.

giverny is certainly possible as a day trip from paris:

simply take a train from paris to vernon

and then either take the tour bus to giverny or,

our favorite, rent bicycles and ride out.

must see’s include the maison monet,

monet’s incredible home, gardens, lily ponds,

and studio (now the gift shop),

the ancien hotel baudy for a splendid meal

and the amazing garden and studio behind it,

the churchyard where the monet family is buried,

and another place that i’ll tell you about in a minute.


one of the things that i always look forward to when we go to giverny

is lunch outdoors at the hotel baudy.

to sit under the umbrellas dappled with shade from the overhanging trees

and look out over the verdant landscape

is a true pleasure…


when combined with exquisite french fare and a hearty wine

it approaches ecstasy!

after the meal we usually spend some time out behind the hotel

walking in the sloping garden



and visiting the magical little studio

where monet and several of his friends spent time gathering together

for shared painting sessions.




i always feel a sense of reverence when i am in a space where people create,

or in this case, have created.

brushes and tubes of paint are scattered about as if awaiting the return

of this group of artists and friends.

if you close your eyes and squint just so,

you can imagine yourself there in the studio’s heyday…


you can hear the discussions, the laughter,

smell the turpentine.


i love that nature is slowly reclaiming this space,

making itself welcome through the windows and wandering amongst the artwork.

it lends a timeless quality that feels like its own form of reverence.


meandering along the rue claude monet you’ll see some breathtaking sights

of summer’s rich colors juxtaposed against ancient half-timbered houses,

the old and the new.



this makes me hyperventilate a little bit…

it’s a combination of desperately wanting to capture the image

(while no one walks between this vision and my camera,

no mean feat at the height of summer tourist season)

and a strong desire to just steep in this beauty,

to sit and stare until the rods and cones inside my eyeballs

are saturated with these forms, textures, and colors.



the textures of giverny for me are comprised of paint on canvas,

stone, and foliage.

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 10.37.42 AM

now for the attraction i promised that i believe to be another fine example

of the new coexisting with the old.

on the rue claude monet is a wonderful art gallery that has literally changed our lives:

the galerie c. demarez.

at the time of this trip it was still in a little shop in the “heart” of town,

but now he has a wonderful new gallery attached to his home

and a painting studio there as well.

we had bought a couple of his paintings the year before,

and when we stopped at the studio christophe this time was not in

but his father was tending the business.

he called christophe to tell him we were there,

and moments later christophe walked in!

we had a lovely time selecting a couple of new paintings,


including this lovely four-panel screen which now stands

at the foot of our bed–

i rather like feeling like i go to sleep in paris every night!

and then…

we were in for a BIG surprise!

christophe loaded us into his vintage jaguar

and took us on a grand tour of the surrounding area,

where he was born and raised.

he told us of his parents, for whom he has the utmost respect

as the perfect example of joie de vivre–

the joy of life in the truest sense.

he showed us the house that bonnard lived in

with his wife marthe,

he showed us the highlights of the town of vernon,

and then he took us to the family’s chateau on the hill overlooking vernon,

where at that time he did his painting.

oh, my.



it’s pretty obvious that i am almost never in any of the photos i show you–

i take the pictures.

christophe has the skill of knowing when to take the camera

and shoot the photos himself–

when he took us through the carriage house to see the line-up of carriages,

he suddenly opened the door of one, helped me into it,

and took my picture.


what a nice surprise!


when we finished exploring inside the chateau

we headed out to see the grounds.


hmmn…  again!


this was the beginning of a great friendship.

this man is an incredible person and,

despite a bit of a language barrier,

i learn so much from him each time we get together.

get-togethers now include his wife catherine

and their kids, too.

should you find yourself planning a trip to france,

i would encourage you to visit giverny,

tour monet’s house and grounds,

lunch at the hotel baudy,

and visit christophe’s gallery.

it will be a day of art immersion!



au revoir!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2014 1:34 am

    So you go there more than once?! How wonderful. Thanks for showing us this dream trip to Giverney. I’m in awe of all of it, but especially those perfect hollyhocks. Love you coming out of the carriage and in front of the chateau. That four-panel screen is simply amazing. What a trip!

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      February 28, 2014 5:32 am

      we’ve been going at least once a year, although relocating to the farm put that on a temporary hold. we have plans to go back again this fall. i, too, love the hollyhocks and want to try growing some around here. those and poppies– i just love the bright color!

  2. February 28, 2014 4:00 pm

    His sweet little studio space has a prettiness and peacefulness to it. It’s a bit sad too, the half squeezed tubes of paint, the undone flower painting, the stillness of it all.
    You are looking like a princess in that carriage, straight out of a storybook.
    If those are hollyhocks, I ADORE hollyhocks!

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      February 28, 2014 5:22 pm

      ah, lynn– i always find it sad to visit a deceased artist’s studio and yet it is also uplifting because somehow the creative energy is still present. to be honest, the entire day spent with christophe and visiting the chateau felt like a fairy tale, so magical! and i ADORE hollyhocks, too!!

  3. February 28, 2014 5:14 pm

    all those colours, all that ease in just living life, letting art speak.

    [and YOU in that carriage….!]

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      February 28, 2014 7:25 pm

      letting art speak… i really like that.

      i’m still working on the ease in just living life, tho!

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