Along my travels with the CAES “Flowers and Photography” study abroad maymester, we visited Paris, France. On our first full day in Paris, we ventured to two separate towns, the first was Versailles, home of Louis XIV, and the second was Giverny, home of impressionist artist Claude Monet. Versailles was just as I imagined, a massive fortress filled with French history and style. While the crowds were overwhelming, it was still a unique experience. We had the chance to walk around the gardens and explore the works of Louis XIV. The gardens were immaculate “formal gardens.” They are made up primarily of bushes and potted trees, and while that may sound underwhelming… the precision is what makes the gardens spectacular. The town of Versailles was very unique, but touristy. The palace was incredible, but as I don’t tend to find beauty in “gaudy” style, I was much more intrigued and wowed by Giverny. 

 Giverny was about an hour and a half car ride away from Versailles, and north of Paris. The town was quaint and much more quiet and simple than Versailles. It was a bit more mountainous and had more character and unique flair. Claude Monet’s home, and the inspiration behind his famous works, is nestled within Giverny. This particular portion of the entire trip was the one I had been waiting for, and it did not disappoint. The garden, pond, house, and waterlilies made for a spectacular afternoon day trip. Each flower groomed with care and attention, and each walkway and bridge filled with history and beauty. Monet’s garden tells a story, and not just a story of his art, but of the life he lived and the legacy he leaves behind. While his garden is considered to be “informal,” more so like an English Garden, I find it far more beautiful than Versailles and other formal gardens. 

 Attached below are images from both gardens. What do you prefer… a formal French garden or an informal English-style garden?