The Church of Saint Nicolas des Champs was once part of the powerful Abbey of Saint Martin des Champs. The abbey was founded as a daughter house of the Benedictine monastery of Cluny in 1067. It was incorporated into the city in the 14th century when it was enclosed by the new city wall constructed under the management of the Prefect of Paris, Etienne Marcel. The church of Saint Nicolas des Champs was begun in 1420 and enlarged significantly in 1541. In 1615, another building project was completed that gives us the church we see today.
The Church of Saint Nicolas des Champs was a center for charitable works and a refuge for pilgrims until its closing at the time of the French Revolution in 1793. It was re-opened in 1795 as a temple dedicated to Faith. In the 19th century it underwent a restoration and many works of contemporary artists were added to the interior along with works donated from other Paris churches.
The church is dominated by a beautiful tower which dates from the 15th century, the top portion dates from the 17th. Parts of the nave date from the first construction of the present building in 1420. The Renaissance portail on the south side was built in the 16th century and was inspired by a drawing by Philippe de l'Orme, the architect to King Henri II. Although it now has a fairly rough exterior owing to its long life and to the rise and decline of the area, the interior of the church of Saint Nicolas des Champs is quite remarkable for its light and beauty. Twenty five large windows account for the luminous quality and add greatly to the richness of the interior decoration.
There are many wonderful masterpieces in the church including The Baptism Of Christ, a work of the 16th century by Gaudenzio Ferrari.References:
Claude Monet lived for forty-three years, from 1883 to 1926, in Giverny. With a passion for gardening as well as for colours, he conceived both his flower garden and water garden as true works of art. Walking through his house and gardens, visitors can still feel the atmosphere which reigned at the home of the Master of Impressionnism and marvel at the floral compositions and nymphéas, his greatest sources of inspiration.
In 1890 Monet had enough money to buy the house and land outright and set out to create the magnificent gardens he wanted to paint. Some of his most famous paintings were of his garden in Giverny, famous for its rectangular Clos normand, with archways of climbing plants entwined around colored shrubs, and the water garden, formed by a tributary to the Epte, with the Japanese bridge, the pond with the water lilies, the wisterias and the azaleas.
Today the Monet's Garden is open to the public.