Philippe Delerm in Giverny

En Francais : Philippe Delerm a Giverny

From "Les chemins nous inventent"
( The Pathes Invent Us),
Stock editor,
 by Philippe and Martine Delerm.
Courtesy of the authors.

Philippe Delerm

The Garden after the Rains


The tourists are thinning out. No more queues to get into the house. Everything is simpler again, truer, a bit slower. A grey coolness, the end of summer... just what you need to start living again, and breathing.

Come to Giverny when the gardens are wet, with October vines still climbing the old walls but turning red as coals, when the village becomes the village again, with its own people, the inclining schoolyard, its own pace and identity. October. A sweet nectar that flows over the palate like muscatel. October in Giverny is the promise of a  French autumn, of a Norman lushness waxing with the aristocratic near-Paris area. Wherever you go in early Fall, people are making quince jelly or wild blackberry jam. It was here that Monet meandered through his garden making jellies and jams of light.

Photo Martine Delerm

I penetrate the grey, wet garden. Grey. I'd never seen it glow in this somewhat colder hue and yet... The asters and the cosmos take to this softer grey, which points up the whites and myriad delicate shades of blue and pale mauve deftly arranged to blend coolly into the rosy walls and set off the sombre green shutters.

Photo Martine Delerm

Some scattered raindrops fall and I consider going inside, as if it were my own place. Everything is so familiar, footsteps crunching on the gravel, the smells ushered in by the gathering shower. I stop briefly at the foot of the steps. Just above the railing, behind the vaguely Chinese lanterns of a fuchsia bush, the small green door with its country-curtained window suddenly springs to life. You don't expect to see a watchman, but an erstwhile cook with a tea towel slung over her shoulder and a crimped white bonnet on her head.

Inside the house, the studio hung profusely with copies of the masterworks is hardly inspiring - you don't come here to admire copies. But in a tiny room just before it are two odd little cupboards where the eggs were kept. This idea of a straw-blond warmth, the sensuality of the farm, is a perfect complement to the refined blue of the Japanese prints. From the bedroom upstairs, it feels good to look down upon the garden, a bit like the lord of the house getting his first whiff of the fresh October day. The rain has stopped. Umbrellas close here and there in the pathways below, a wash of sunlight plays over the asters and nasturtiums. I want to go back and see them before the next rain shower. But first I have to linger a while in the yellow light of the dining room, then in the blue of the kitchen with the flock of copper pots perched on the walls, the generous and monumental cast-iron stove - one can just imagine the heady smells, the bustle, the fogged-up window panes...  

In the watery garden, the dahlias are the stars of the Fall, from bon-bon pink to blood red, from pastel to velvet, with just the right lightness at the tips of their petals but a shameless opulence deep in their hearts. The cleomes try their best not to be ruffled by this, but really their pink is too thin, their forms overly sophisticated. A few late dark roses barely touched by rust bend their neck in stoic submission, as if overwhelmed by their dying beauty.

Further on, two lovers kiss on a bench near the lily pond. Monet would have liked this furtive light cast from a fleeting sun between showers. Just before the Japanese bridge, stymied by the new silence, the return of the spell, a sumac voluptuously spreads its lush tropical orange leaves. The maples lining the banks of the pond are apple red and burnished gold in October.

Near the reeds and a purple aster, the pale green rowboat, oars at rest,  is an invitation to a near-static journey throug a ripple too slight to disturb either the reflection of the long-haired willows or the floating whashed-out leaves.  

This too, is the miracle of Giverny : disregarding the others, one becomes oneself again, finding on these banks that flash of bliss that sings its secret light for each of us.

Philippe Delerm

"Les chemins nous inventent", (Stock) by Philippe Delerm (texts) and Martine Delerm (photos).
Courtesy of the authors.
Translation Tim McGlue.

See also :

A visit to Claude Monet's garden
List of plants and flowers of Claude Monet's garden
Flowering calendar in Claude Monet's garden
Claude Monet's garden in Autumn
Map of Claude Monet's garden (91Kb)
Aerial View of Claude Monet's garden (78 Kb)
Tips and tricks
Talk : Giverny, place of memory
Talk : A Site for Sight, Monet in his Garden at Giverny

Giverny guided day trip tour in bus or minibus
Giverny Day Trips

ticket for monet garden Buy online your e-ticket to visit Giverny Claude Monet's home and gardens. ticket for monet garden

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