Friday, September 30, 2011

Madame Pocket Pacy (#6)

Other than Joan of Arc and having a bookstore with MY book, Rouen is known as the birthplace of Gustave Flaubert, the author of the classic work Madame Bovary.

I remember feeling slightly ambivalent about the book when I read it in high school, but upon rereading I found myself rather enjoying the romanticism of it. Regardless, Flaubert was a superb author whom I was pleased to find out had a museum dedicated to him. Voila la Musee Flaubert!

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when touring the museum. I thought it would be about Flaubert, Madame Bovary and his writing. Instead it focused on lots of archaic and rather gruesome medical history. It seems Gustave Flaubert's father was a rather famous doctor and this museum is a record of  his practice.

I've declined to show the photos of the more unsettling images (let's just say medicine has come a long way!) but the museum did show how Gustave Flaubert grew up with the harsh realities of life and death around him. Perhaps that explains the naive, extremely romantic character of Madame Bovary, he may have written it as a direct reaction to his surroundings.

apothecary jars of Gustave Flaubert's father, one of  the more attractive  of the displays in the museum...

However, interesting Gustave Flaubert quotes  adorned the museum:

Literature. The occupation of the idle.
This quote was very apropos, considering the medical history surroundings:
I have a style abscess and a phrase itch
In the courtyard of the museum, there was a statue memorializing Madame Bovary. I thought she could use the company of a Pocket Pacy:

C'est Madame Pocket Pacy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


From our  place in Giverny, we were able to take some day trips. One day trip was to the city of Rouen.

Rouen is mainly famous for being the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake:

But it also the home of the Rouen Cathedral, made famous by a series of paintings done by Claude Monet (do you see a theme?)
I'm holding a postcard of one of Monet's paintings!

I tried to channel some of Monet's artistry by making my own sketch of the Rouen Cathedral:

I had a very "impressionistic" result at least:

There were many other fine sites to see in Rouen, which was a smaller and calmer city than Paris. Such as this very cool, ancient clock (you could take tours to see the inside):

And a sign signifying a whole street of pie! Yum! I imagine each house having its own specialty--apple, blueberry, cherry...
The Sasquatch says it doesn't really translate to Pie Street, but I don't care.

But instead of pie, there were frozen macarons.

I was not really that disappointed.
And there was this beautiful, old carousel that had just been restored:

I love the animals!
But I have to admit, my favorite place was going into the bookstore:

Because there I found...
Oh la la! Is it really my book?
a French copy of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon!!!
or  as it's known in France as, La Ou La Montagne Rejoint La Lune!
C'est magnifique! J'adore Rouen!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

me in monet's garden

The big site in Giverny is, of course, Monet's Garden. We (Pocket Pacy and I) went first thing in the morning:

I particularly was excited about going because I loved  the book Linnea in Monet's Garden. It's an absolutely wonderful book that brings to life impressionism more than my art history books...I remembered the details from this book much more than the details from my Gardener's Art Through the Ages.  But that might be saying more about me than the book...

I brought this book with me to the garden!
So seeing the pink house, the sunflowers and the garden in real life was incredibly enchanting! I hadn't realized how large the house or the gardens really were.

I had always thought Monet's pink house was a small was not!

the garden was quite expansive, rows and rows of blooming flowers

Linnea in Monet's Garden come to life!

But my favorite part was going to the water lilies! After seeing so many of Monet's water lily paintings it was magical to go where he actually painted them, the scene that inspired his masterpieces:

I tried to draw it myself with an impressionistic flair:

It was such an enchanting place. I didn't want to leave. So, I decided to leave a Pocket Pacy here in my stead:

Maybe she will be a part of someone else's impression of Monet's Garden!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Our next stop was Giverny!

Even though I was thrilled about going to Giverny, I got too busy to plan the details of this part of the trip. So the Sasquatch took over the planning, booking our lodging. I didn't really know what to expect.

But after a brief search (the place was a bit challenging to find) I found that he had reserved the amazing Le Maison Baudy for us:

The Sasquatch looking deservedly proud of the completely awesome place he found for us!
Giverny is the home of Claude Monet and impressionist movement.  Apparently, artists in awe of Monet, flocked to Giverny making it a kind of artist haven. This would have happened if it were not for an enterprising grocer's wife, Madame Baudy.

There was no inn in Giverny, but she transformed her husband's small shop into a hotel. This was quickly filled to capacity and she began to rent out her house as well (only to a privileged few to whom she began to know). This house has stayed in the Baudy family and now we were staying in it too!

the plaque on the outside of the house that explained its history
To be completely honest, we were not staying exactly in the Baudy house. The current Madame Baudy lives there and occupies the whole building. But they renovated the Baudy house barn/stable (that is connected) into a guest house. And that is where we stayed (whole cottage to ourselves!):

the inside was all modern and amazing, I wanted to live there forever!

it was separated from the main house by a steps and black dog
The original Le Maison Baudy (where the current Madame Baudy lives):

The original house still has some of its original decor:
the bright blue trim was very common in Giverny, Monet-inspired!
And the current Madame Baudy was kind enough to explain some of the historical photos on the wall:

This photo shows the original Madame Baudy with a tableful of guests. Paintings on the wall are paintings given to her by the artists when they could not afford to pay for their rooms:

There were also photos that artists used as photo reference, posed model photos. I was actually kind of surprised that the impressionist used photo reference--I just assumed they all painted from life.  This makes me feel a bit better about my own cheating use of photo reference for my paintings.

But I can see why the artists came to Giverny. It was beautiful. The lush landscape and the silver light was breathtaking.
our "backyard" in the morning

I wish I had thought to draw the cottage in that light. Instead I drew it in normal daylight. It looked like:

I already miss it!

Le Maison Baudy
3 chemin Blanche Hoschedé Monet

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chartres and Pocket Pacy #5

From Tours, we were on out way to Giverny (Monet's gardens!) but as I looked on the map, I saw that the town on Chartres was on the way. sounded so familiar. Like it was important...yes, there is a very famous and important church there! We learned about it in art history class! Thank you, expensive art school education.

So the Sasquatch and I took a little detour to see this very famous and important church (yes, he's a French-Canadian Sasquatch who rented a car and drove me all around France!). This is what it looked like:

it was in much better condition than Notre Dame
There were hundreds and hundreds of carvings all over the church. That is one of the reasons it was in my art history book:

And there was amazing stained glass:
the stained glass was also intricate! I liked how they told biblical in the panels.

And there was a maze! It was loosely based on the famous labyrinth that is inside the church (that we didn't get to see).

What was interesting about Chartres to me, compared to Notre Dame, was that it seemed to be a much more narrative church. From the hundreds of sculptures to the stained glass, it seemed like everything was telling a bible story--which makes sense. I'm guessing most commoners did not know how to read and, if I remember correctly, sermons were in Latin.  It would be through these visual illustrations that stories would be shared. 

But when it came down to sketch, I found the church and all its details overwhelming and I ended up drawing what I saw coming down the church steps:

and enjoyed the serenade of street beggar. His song gave me a strange sense of timelessness. I imagine a similar song must have been sung in front of this church for centuries and would probably continue until the end of time.

And I thought, perhaps, a Pocket Pacy might be a good witness for some of that.