Consequently, one day our American painters, taking the train that went to Vernon from the SaintLazare station, noticed the village with its church on the side of a hill and its wide meadows spread out between the Seine, the Epte and the Ru. From Vernon to Giverny the journey must have been delightful. A train crossed a bridge over the Seine - the bridge was destroyed during World War II and never rebuilt - reaching the opposite bank at Vernonnet very near the house where Bonnard would later live. It then followed the valley of the Epte River at the foot of hills covered with orchards, vineyards, and fields of grain.
Our painters easily found motifs ; accommodations, however, were less certain. They entered the Café Baudy, and this time Lucien and Angélina Baudy were persuaded. They found lodging for them with local families wherever possible and even gave up their own room. Metcalf stayed at the Ferme de la Côte, and Miss Baudy cooked for them. the Americans were delighted but clamored for an inn. Madame Baudy would later confide that encouraged by them and at the instigation of Robinson she decided to build the studio. They all convinced her she would be able to keep boarders the year round because of it.
Neither the Baudys nor their clients were rich, but the idea excited them. The studio was erected in 1887, the year when the guest register began. Then was born the hotel for painters, the true Hôtel Baudy. It was still modest in size, but its rapid success quickly necessitated modifications and additions. It grew little by little. In 1888 the outbuildings were added, and the essential part of the main building was built between 1888 and 1891. At that time, taxes were calculated according to the number of doors and windows in a building. In 1891 there were 30 plus a porte-cochère for carriages. Upstairs in the main house there were two studios.
Things happen quickly ; the first three years in the register are eloquent. Among the names listed are Robinson, Harrison, Breck, Dawson-Watson, Butler, Wendel, Hale, Lilla Cabot Perry, Hart, Rothenstein and Peixotto. There were painters, sculptors, art historians and travelers who came alone or with their families. Most often they came to paint for the entire season. The strong natural light of the valley, constantly transforming the landscape, was one of the most interesting attractions of Giverny. And the village itself was an inexhaustible source of subjects scenes of peasant life and of young girls simply taking walks, their faces barely hidden behind parasols. Even at the inn there were subjects everywhere, such as guests seated around tables under the trees, card players, linen maids, and Gaston himself behind the counter. Lucien and Angélina were assisted by their son Gaston and his wife Clarisse.