We had enjoyed two good days in Dinard and St Malo but the next morning it was time to move on. We woke earlier than planned on account of some seagulls flying past our window and screeching so loud it was as though it was a fleet of police patrol cars driving by on the way to attend an incident with emergency sirens blaring.
Before travel I always carry out careful research but sometimes something just crops up while you are away. At a shop in Dinard I was looking at postcards and came across one for the nearby town of Dinan and it looked exactly like the sort of place that we should visit. Kim was elsewhere in the shop and spotted exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. Simultaneously we said “come and look at this, I think we should go here” and we decided there…
during this 3h-hike, I was in awe at the wonderful landscape, and after I saw the ruins of an old farm among the Andorran chalets, I recalled Steve Jobs’ wise and realistic encouragement:“I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: if today were the last day of my life, would I want to […]
“Here on the river’s verge, I could be busy for months without changing my place, simply leaning a little more to the right or left.” – Paul Cézanne
Walking through the mazes of Ille-sur-Têt, I am in the company of the master. I cannot help but be reminded of his devotion to his beloved mont Sainte-Victoire. Shortly after the opening of the Aix-Marseille line, Cézanne wrote to his friend, Emile Zola, on April 14, 1878 to praise the mountain which he viewed from the train while passing through the railway bridge at Arc River Valley. That same year he began a series of over 60 paintings of Sainte-Victoire.
I give you the above quote as I seemed to hear his voice as I hiked through Ille-sur-Têt. He kept telling me to turn my head and record what I witnessed. Ever since the first time I visited his Atelier in Aix-en-Provence, I take his messages to heart. Perhaps I was carried away with the camera or just maybe, I listened to the master. I could imagine his response to witnessing the wonder of Ille-sur-Tet and the great Mont Canigou in the background…
Orgues (Organ) of Ille-sur-Têt: The site was listed in 1981 as protected under the Act of 2 May 1930 regarding the protection “of natural monuments, and artistic, historic, scientific, legendary or picturesque sites.” Listing the site concerns outstanding features of the heritage whose preservation is of general interest. The procedure permitted to develop the site so that it could be more welcoming.
The approach to the site follows a trail of approximately 800 meters before entering the actual site. Shortly before the entrance you will find a scattering of metal sculptures. The art and their placement reminds me of the park grounds surrounding Atelier Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence.
This part of the Têt valley is called the Ribéral. The word means “river area” or “born from rivers” due to the number of springs and resurgences present on the territory. The site is situated in a valley wich is 2 km wide at the level of Ille-sur-Têt and surrounded by three massifs – to the south, west and north. Eastward the land widens out to spread gradually to the Roussillon plain. The foothills of Les Aspres lie to the south. These hills with their steep slopes are mainly composed of schists – an impermeable rock accounting for the dryness of the environment. To the south-west you can view the highest point of the Canigou Massif (2784 m) it is also known as the dog’s tooth peak and is the last high summit of the eastern part of the Pyrenees and an important symbol for the Catalan people.
The first stop facing the visitor centre is situated at the confluence of two torrents: the Retxe and the Piló d’en Gil. These rivers often run dry (as they were when I was there) but be aware as heavy storms turn them into raging torrents. Autumn rains are often violent, sometimes catastrophic, as there can be 150 to 200mm of water in only one day and there are records of 600 or 800 mm of water which is equivalent of rainfall in the Paris region in a whole year. The locals will never forget the month of October 1940 and the ‘aiguat’ (downpour/overflow). About 1280 mm of rainwater tumbled down over the region during three days. The Têtriver reached record levels of 700 times more than its average rate of flow or a discharge ten times more than the average rate of flow of the Seine in Paris. The level of the water rose up to 6m in Perpignan, over 80 buildings were destroyed and there were about forty victims in the department of the Pyrénées Orientales. While such events are rare, they are not exceptional and each generation remembers their ‘aiguat’. I have come to realise that this will not be a single post. Please join me again as we explore the magnificent Ille-sur-Têt. There is more information and lots of photos to encourage us to listen to Cézanne who turns his head searching for each new perspective and sees so much more. Bisous, Léa
More than half a million people visit Monet’s gardens each year. However, it is only open for seven months each season.
The many inner alleys are closed to visitors to protect the plants and maintain the garden’s beauty. However, you are free to explore the side alleys and all about the garden viewing its various perspectives.
An underground passage will give you access to the water garden. During the time of Monet you had to cross a railway and road. Yes, you can walk across the Japanese bridge and get stunning views of the numerous hidden recess of the water garden.
Let your camera explore with you as pictures are permitted. However, picnic’s, dogs and other pets are prohibited.
The house and its gardens became the property of Michel Monet upon his father’s death in 1926. Michel did not live at Giverny so care of the property fell to Monet’s stepdaughter, Blanche. Sadly, the house and gardens fell into disrepair after the Second World War. It was not until 1966 that Michel Monet presented the estate to the Academie des Beaux-Arts as his heir.
When Gérald van der Kemp became the Curator in 1977 he met with Georges Truffaut, a distinguished gardener who had frequently been invited to dine with Monet during his lifetime. Devillers was able to help reconstruct the garden as it was in the time of the master.
Restoration took nearly a decade to
bring house and gardens back to their former glory. Much had been reduced to shards and shambles from the bombings. Floors and ceiling beams had rotted, a stairway collapsed. Trees were found growing in the former big studio.
The pond had to be dug again. In the Clos normand, soil had to be removed in order to locate the original ground level. Care was taken to replant the same flower species as those discovered by Monet in his time. Private donations from generous donors made the work possible. The house received a facelift. The Japanese prints and ancient furniture were restored. Giverny has been open to the public since 1980.
While touring the house, visitors are asked and reminded not to photograph the inside.
For myself, I enjoyed the day tremendously. Yet the sad exception for me was that Monet’s studio has become a gift shop. I shudder to think of what the master would have said. I do realize that these treasures must be preserved and that it takes a great deal of money. However, I would have gladly paid more for the chance to see the studio as the master would have left it.
Don’t forget to click on each photo so you don’t miss anything!
A decade after moving to Giverny, 1893, he purchased adjacent property across the railway. Across the property flowed a small brook which fed off a tributary of the Seine River. Then he set forward with his plan digging a small pond. His neighbours opposed, afraid that the outlandish plants would poison the water.
Eventually the pond was enlarged to its current size. It is complete with curved and asymmetries and inspired by the Japanese gardens. Monet had been an avid collector of Japanese prints.
The water garden is home to the famous Japanese bridge and is heavily curtained with fragrant wisterias and surrounded by weeping willows, a bamboo wood and the famous water lilies which bloom throughout the summer.
The vegetation surrounding the pond formed enclosed and separated the grounds from the surrounding countryside.
It was unique for an artist to sculpt his subjects in nature in preparation of painting them. In this way, he fashioned his masterpieces twice. Monet took inspiration from his beloved water garden for over twenty
years. Having completed the Japanese bridge series he turned his focus to the giant decorations of the Orangerie.
Searching for transparencies and mist, he dedicated himself to reflections in the water, an inverted world transfigured by the fluid enlement.
Monet’s beloved Japanese bridge was built by a local artisan. Unfortunately, it was beyond repair and had to be rebuilt.
The stunning wisteria were planted by Monet. As I left the gardens, a sprig of wisteria blew over the wall. Without a thought I picked it up and stuck it in my journal. It was amazing how long the fragrance lasted. Perhaps it was strengthened by the memory of that day?
The magnificent garden of the late artist, Claude Monet, is divided into two parts. There is the flower garden, Clos Normand which is in front of his house and the Japanese inspired water garden across the road. When the Monet family settled there in 1883 the gently sloping land was enclosed by a high stone wall and an orchard planted. Clos Normand measures about one hectare and in that space, Monet created a garden masterpiece of colour, symmetry and perspective. All of the photos you will see here were taken there in the month of May. You will see some in bright sunshine, a few photos taken during a sudden shower and others taken when clouds did their best to hide the sun all together. Divided into flowerbeds, clumps of flowers of diverse heights creating volume. Ornamental and fruit trees direct the climbing roses, coloured banks of annuals and long-stemmed hollyhocks. Monet mixed the most rare varieties with the simplest such as poppies and daisies. Iron arches cover the central alley which takes you to or from the main door to the house. The arches are covered with climbing roses and other rose trees envelop the balustrade along the house. As is evident, Claude Monet did not care for structured or unnatural gardens. He arranged flowers by colour wanting them to grow rather freely. In the passing years he acquired a love for botany and exchanged plants with his friends. Always searching for rare varieties, he spent great sums of money on young plants saying that all of his money went into the garden. Bisous, Léa