Ever since my mom took me to an impressionist art exhibit at the Cleveland Art Museum as a child, I have been transfixed by the dreamlike expressions of colorful landscapes that many of the artists painted. Although I admired many of the pieces and the artists who painted them, the artist I was drawn to the most was Monet.

When I saw that Claude Monet’s home in Giverny was an itinerary stop for The Grand Tour study abroad, I was ecstatic. I would have the chance to see the garden that was a beloved source of inspiration for Monet. Monet himself said, “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” From the moment we arrived at the garden, it was clear to see that it truly deserved the title of masterpiece.

I started my tour of the estate in the Clos-Normand garden which is the area surrounding Monet’s farmhouse. Since the gardens were designed by Monet, the colors of the flowers perfectly mingled and complemented one another. Each of the flower beds was a priceless piece of art that Monet eternalized in his plein air style paintings. Visitors also have the chance to go inside the farmhouse to see Monet’s kitchen, studio, and bedroom. In the house, you can see how much color and Japanese art influenced the artist and how he implemented these inspirations into his everyday life.

After visiting his home, I walked a short distance to Claude’s beloved water garden. To get there, one must in a tunnel walk under a bridge. I was filled with anticipation, especially after hearing two French women chatting about how stunning the azalées in bloom were. When you emerge from the dim tunnel under the bridge, you feel as if you have walked into one of Monet’s paintings. It feels surreal walking over the green Japanese-style bridges to look at the water lilies shyly peeking up at you from the pond’s glassy surface. You have a strange feeling of déjà vu since you have seen so many of the elements of the garden captured in the artist’s expansive works depicting the garden.

Claude Monet’s house and gardens is a destination I truly believe every art and garden lover should see while visiting France, especially in the spring. I saw so much beauty during the Grand Tour study abroad, but when people ask what I think the most beautiful stop was, I will happily say it was Claude Monet’s gardens.