After spending time in my studio painting a few weeks ago, I started browsing through a magazine online (I forget which one) and I came across a short article about Les Jardins D’Etretat located on the Normandy coast about a two-hour train ride from Paris. The picture below captivated me and I transported myself into the shoes of the painter. I visioned myself perched on top of the ragged cliff with a paintbrush in one hand while admiring the breathtaking scenery. I could taste the salty air, hear the thunderous roar of the crashing waves from down below, and feel a cool breeze move across my face. Then, out of nowhere, I snapped out of my hypnotic state and my immediate thought was: “We really need to buy tickets to France.”
This past weekend I spent some time in my own garden to tidy things up a bit. As I was working, I remembered the image I came across a few weeks ago. The property was once owned by a famous French actress, Madame Thébault, who was a friend of artist Claude Monet. Monet frequently visited Thébault and encouraged her to plant a garden. The scenery greatly inspired Monet and over the course of his artistic career, he painted numerous pieces of art capturing the cliffs and shoreline below. I don’t know exactly how many paintings he created of Étretat because conflicting research indicates anywhere from 30-50 individual paintings, including the two shown below.
Etretat is becoming more and more amazing. Now is the real moment: the beach with all its fine boats; it is superb, and I am enraged not to be more skillful in rendering all this. I would need two hands and hundreds of canvases. –Claude Monet
Étretat is best known for its chalky cliffs and rock formations. It’s no surprise that Monet was so inspired by the natural beauty of the region.
I would love to see pictures of what the gardens actually looked like in the early 1900’s when Thébault planted the original garden. The current gardens that I am highlighting in today’s post were restored in 2016 by Russian landscaper Alexander Grivko and are open to the public to enjoy. I am sure Thébault and Monet would be happy to know that the area continues to inspire.
The whimsical garden combines landscape and sculpture. The willow “painter” is a tribute to Claude Monet.
The website for Les Jardins D’Etretat is currently being revamped but be sure to check out the video on their homepage. I won’t say anything about the video other than it’s “dreamy”….. Once you check it out, you’ll know exactly what I mean.