Almost everyone who loves art loves Claude Monet's paintings. The beautiful paintings of his waterlilies, the "series" he created of the haystacks, Rouen cathedral, Charing Cross bridge, Venice, and poplar trees. 

If you love art and you are visiting Paris, the Musée d'Orsay, with dozens of Monet paintings, is probably at the top of your sightseeing list. But if you love Monet, don't miss another must-see museum, the Musée Marmottan Monet, which houses the largest collection of Monet works in the world.

In 1957, the museum was fortunate to receive a large donation from the private collection of Mrs. Victorine Donop Monchy which she inherited from her father, Dr. George Bellio. Dr. Bellio had purchased or been given these paintings as tokens of appreciation for the patients he cared for, some of whom were Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Pierre Renoir and Claude Monet. One was the painting that gave the movement its name, Impression, Sunrise.

Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet                                                                                                  Photo: http://www.marmottan.com/

In 1966, Claude Monet's son, Michel, bequeathed his inherited collection of 150 of his father's paintings to the museum. This donation endowed the museum with the largest Monet collection in the world. The museum now possesses nearly 300 works by Monet.

The Train in the Snow by Claude Monet                                                                                                  Photo: http://www.marmottan.com/

Jacque Carlu, then curator of the museum, built a special exhibition space for the Monet collection in a lower level of the museum. Reminiscent of the hall designed for Monet's Water Lilies murals in the Musée de l'Orangerie, the special exhibition space is a large, open room space which allows visitors to follow the significant stages of the Monet's path as a painter and follow the evolution of his technique and the progression of his work, as well as to view his canvases both up close and from afar. Several works were painted between the years 1919 and 1923 when his eyes were suffering from cataracts. Monet finally had an operation to remove the cataracts and was able to resume his painting; he mainly concentrated on his Water Lilies murals found in the Musée de l'Orangerie.

Musée Marmottan Monet also has an exquisite collection of Impressionist paintings by other artists. In 1987, the museum was again the recipient of a outstanding private collection of paintings. Educated as a lawyer in the 1890s, Henri Duhem renounced his career to devote himself completely to painting. Duhem was also a passionate collector. He acquired many paintings, many by his artist friends and succeeded in forming a very impressive collection consisting of paintings, pastels and sculptures by Boudin, Corot, Gauguin, Guillaumin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Rodin. Following the wishes of her adoptive parents, daughter Nelly Sergeant-Duhem donated the entire collection to the museum in 1987.

And most recently in 1996, the museum was again the recipient of one of the most important French collections of avant-garde paintings when Denis and Annie Rouart donated their collection of prestigious works by Berthe Morisot, Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas. This collection had special meaning to the Rouarts. Denis Rouart was the son of Julie Manet who was the daughter and only child of Eugène Manet (Édouard's brother) and Berthe Morisot. Denis inherited the collection directly from his grandmother, Berthe Morisot. The museum now holds over 80 works by Berthe Morisot. (A personal note: Berthe Morisot is my favorite painter.)

Eugène Manet and his Daughter in the Garden of Bougival by Berthe Morisot                                   Photo: http://www.marmottan.com/

Rose Trémière by Berthe Morisot                                                                         Photo: http://www.marmottan.com/


Directions: Take Métro Line #9 (Direction: Pont des Sèvres) to the La Muette stop. Exiting the Métro station, follow the brown signs down Chaussée de la Muette which turns into Avenue du Ranelagh. Turn right onto Avenue Raphaël then left onto Rue de Boilly. You can also cut through the park with the children's carousel to the museum. The museum is located at Rue de Boilly 2.

Musée Marmottan Monet located on Rue de Boilly.

  • Musée Marmottan Monet is closed on Mondays.
  • Open Tuesday from 11:00 - 21:00.
  • Open Wednesday through Sunday 11:00 - 18:00.
  • Paris Museum Pass cannot be used at this museum.
  • The current entrance fee is €9.00.
  • No photography is allowed.



It's safe to say that most people consider the tulip one of their favorite flowers. Most of us see the tulip as a sign of spring, a belief that the snow and cold of winter is fading away and green and warmth will be more prevalent.

Everyone knows the Netherlands is famous for growing tulips. We've all seen pictures of the fields in brilliant color--rows and rows of brilliant reds, pinks and yellows. This area is known as the Bollenstreek, a triangle-shaped area stretching between Haarlem, The Hague and Leiden, Holland's primary bulb-growing area. The fertile sandy soil plus the climate in this area make a perfect for the flowering bulbs to thrive. From March, the fields are aglow with glorious colors. But seeing these fields yourself is a memorable experience...

Fields of tulips.  I took this photo while on the train from Amsterdam to Leiden. 
Fields of tulips outside the Keukenhof Gardens

I purposely planned our recent trip to the Netherlands in the spring just so we could visit the famous Keukenhof Gardens. Keukenhof literally means kitchen garden. During eight spectacular weeks every spring between the middle of March and the middle of May, visitors have the chance to stroll through the largest bulb flower park in the world. Over 7,000,000 flower bulbs (yes, SEVEN MILLION!) are planted each year. Every year the gardens are designed differently from the previous year; it takes 30 gardeners to plant the millions of bulbs each year.

We were originally supposed to travel to Europe on April 20, but due to all the volcano activity, our trip was postponed for 10 days and we finally left on April 30. I had some concerns that the 10 day delay in traveling would cause us to miss the peak bloom time for the flowers at the Keukenhof--we would not visit the gardens until May 3. This was only 13 days before the gardens closed for 2010. Fortunately for us, the Netherlands had a cooler than normal spring which delayed the blooming of most of the flowers. Great news for us!

Oh, my! I will say that the Keukenhof Gardens were the highlight of the trip for me. Despite all the Flemish and Dutch masterpiece works of art I saw, the gorgeous stained glass I gasped over and magnificent churches I walked through, these sites paled in comparison to the spectacular floral display, both inside and outside, of the Keukenhof Gardens.

From the minute we entered the gardens, we saw groupings of magnificent beauty:
Yellow tulips with grape hyacinth...

It was difficult to determine which direction to walk. We would start walking in one direction, and then, "Oh! Look at that over there!" and start off in another direction. We walked around for nearly 4 hours, but I bet we only saw two-thirds of the gardens. It's huge! We saw:

Tulips of every color:



The tulips I really found interesting were the ones with the fringed edges:

But it's not just millions of tulips that can be seen:

There were amaryllis everywhere, many for sale:

There are thousands of daffodils in bloom...

Hundreds of azalea bushes in bloom:

Thousands of hyacinth and grape hyacinth in bloom-I can still remember the fragrance:

And the flowers weren't just outside in the gardens. Inside the various exhibition buildings located throughout the gardens were thousands of other flowers on display in vases:

In another exhibition building there were hundreds of orchids in every color imaginable on display:


We even purchased tulips bulbs that arrived at my doorstep in early October.  I've planted them to be create my own mini Keukenhof Gardens in my own yard. 

NOTE: In 2011, the Keukenhof Gardens are open from March 24 to May 20, including Sundays and holidays. 

Prepurchase and print out your entrance tickets ahead of time. Go to the Keukenhof Gardens website. Beginning in January 2011, you can prepurchase your entrance tickets which will allow you to skip the line. The 2011 entrance fee will be €14.50. If you plan on driving to the gardens, you can also prepurchase your €6.00 parking ticket online.

However, my suggestion is to purchase the combo-ticket which will give you an entrance ticket plus a roundtrip ticket on the bus that runs from the Leiden train station directly to the gardens. The cost for this combo-ticket is around €21.00.

It's very easy to travel to the Keukenhof Gardens from Amsterdam:

Purchase a roundtrip ticket from Amsterdam's Centraal Station to Leiden. The current cost is around €15.30. The train takes only about a half-hour to reach Leiden.

Exiting the Leiden train station, just look for Bus #54 (Destination: Lisse Keukenhof).

The bus trip takes about another half-hour to reach the gardens. When you've seen enough of the gardens, just catch the same bus back to the Leiden train station.

Another highlight during this time is the Bloemencorso or Flower Parade. Every year (in 2011, the parade is Saturday, April 16) the annual Flower Parade leaves Noordwijk at 9:30 a.m. and travels 40 kilometers along the main roads, arriving in Haarlem around 9:00 p.m. There are approximately 20 large flower-decorated floats and 30 flower-decorated cars along with marching bands. The Flower Parade does pass the Keukenhof Gardens in the afternoon. The floats remain on display in Haarlem until the following evening.

When we originally scheduled the trip to Amsterdam, we were planning to travel to Haarlem to view the parade floats. However, a delay of traveling for 10 days due to the volcano mess made we missed the parade floats. However, other people have been fortunate to see the parade:

Photos: Courtesy of Deb Collins

If you visit the Netherlands in the Spring, do not miss the opportunity to visit the Keukenhof Gardens. It will be a highlight of your trip!



Let's learn more Italian words that may come in handy during your trip:

Che ore sono?                     What time is it?
(Kay OR-ay SO-no?)

Sono Americano                  I am American (male)
(SO-no ah-mer-ri-CAN-no)

Sono Americana                  I am American (female)
(SO-no ah-mer-ri-CAN-na)

Parla inglese?                      Do you speak English?
(PAR-la in-GLAY-zay?)

Non capisco.                        I don't understand.
(Nohn ca-PEE-sco)

La chiesa                             The church
(La kee-AY-sa)

La fontana                            The fountain
(La fon-TAN-na)

Albergo                                 Hotel

La valigia                              Suitcase
(la va-LEE-ja)

Il treno                                  Train
(ill TRAY-no)

Stazione                               Station

Grazie e ciao!



I love visiting old churches. Even more than strolling through galleries full of French Impressionist paintings or Flemish masterpieces. I could spend my entire Europe trip just meandering through the old churches of Europe. Now, I'll admit I'm not a very religious person. I am not a regular church goer. But I love visiting the churches of Europe.

Outside a church is the cacophony of the hundreds of cars and thousands of tourists, but once you step into a church, the atmosphere becomes so tranquil. There is just something about walking into the quietude of a church, sitting down in a chair or pew at the far back of the church and just admiring in silence the beauty of this house of worship. No photos taken yet. That I will do in a few minutes. But for the first few minutes, I just sit and gaze in appreciation of the effort of the artisans who toiled to decorate this church. The masterpiece paintings, frescoes and mosaics decorating the walls and dome ceilings. The Cosmatesque and opus sectile floors. The marble statues of saints and disciples. The detailed woodcarving in the pulpits, pews and choir stalls.

The marble and lapis lazuli embellishments. The myriad of architecture styles--Gothic, High Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque, Baroque.

But what it is I truly love to see in churches? The stained glass. I love everything about stained glass. The expert craftsmanship, the intricate detailing, the vivid colors, the design, the story that a window of colored glass can tell. To see an old church made of stone that is hundreds of years old which has darkened over the centuries, but placed in between that stone is a brilliance of color:

Cathédrale des St. Michel et Ste. Gudule, Brussels, dating from around 1225.


The spectacular stained glass windows of the Oudekerk, Delft, built around 1246.

Or the starkness of white painted walls of a church which is broken up by a dozen stained glass windows:

The spectacular stained glass windows of the Oudekerk, Delft, built around 1246.

Of course, many churches in Europe are famous for their stained glass:

The stained glass windows of Saint Chapelle in Paris:

Chartres Cathedral: Photo by AdrienneSerra

However, on your next trip to Europe, you may want to add these churches to your itinerary:

St. Severin, Paris:
Located in the middle of the Latin Quarter, this church is one of the oldest in Paris. The upper stained glass windows date from the 14th and 15th centuries,
But these contemporary abstract windows in the apse chapels were created by Jean Bazaine in 1970:

St. Eustache, Paris:
Located in the 1st Arrondissement, this church was built between 1532 and 1632. It is considered a masterpiece of late-Gothic architecture with its over 110-foot high vaulted ceiling. Its organ is reputed to be the largest in France with over 8,000 pipes, surpassing St. Sulpice and Notre Dame. 

The stained glass windows also date from 1632.

Sint-Jacobskerk, Brugge:
At one time, this church was the most affluent of the parish churches in Brugge. In the mid 15th-century, the church that was built in the 13th century was enlarged to reflect the increasing wealth and prestige of its parishioners which by then included the household of the nearby Prinsenhof Palace where the Duke of Burgundy lived when he was in Brugge.

For more great photos of stained glass in Europe's churches, please visit the Flickr group I started many months ago called Stained Glass in the Churches of Europe. We have currently 154 members and nearly 13,000 photos.