Thanks to the generosity of some friends, Rachel & I were able to have a few days in their Paris flat last week (and were even able to cover most of our Eurostar tickets with Nectar points). All in all: a result. But the highlight for both of us was actually 80km north-west of Paris in the little Normandy village of Giverny. Neither of us had ever been before. But I felt was as if I’d been going there all my life. In fact, every nook and cranny felt so familiar it was as if it was a childhood home. For this was the home of Claude Monet, and the subject of decades of paintings.

It’s a tiny village – and it was teaming with coach-loads of tourists and schoolchildren. But for once, that didn’t really seem to matter. The place’s character and charm somehow remained intact. And the gardens were simply breathtaking. Monet didn’t just paint in oils. He painted in flowers. What was wonderful was the way in which the gardens are preserved not as a museum piece, but as the vital riot of colour, an ordered wildness, that the artist always loved. It was simply magical.

Here are a few of my snaps – which I’ve had a bit of fun with, trying to match them up with some of Monet’s paintings (sort of).

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In the small and refreshingly simple church in the village, we were very struck by this beautiful impressionistic window. And for good measure, here is a snap from the roof of the Pompidou centre at dusk.


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