Last Updated on 07/24/22 by quiltripping
If like me, you like impressionist paintings and gardens, then a day trip to Claude Monet’s home in Giverny is a must. Giverny is about 50 miles northwest of Paris and can easily be reached by train for a relaxing scenic break from the busy Paris scene.
Claude Monet is considered the father of the impressionist art movement. It was his painting, “Impressions, Sunrise” that gave rise to the name of this painting style. I was surprised to learn that he painted about 2500 hundred works, though not all have survived.
Some of my favorite Monet paintings are in the Paris Muse de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris where whole walls are covered with his water lilies impressions painted under different lighting conditions.
I actually prefer this little museum to the Louvre because it is much, much smaller and more intimate. The display space was designed by Monet himself and was built specifically to exhibit these eight massive canvases.
How to get to Giverny
There are many day tour options available from Paris to see the Monet Gardens in Giverny, but it is easy enough (and significantly less expensive) to get there on your own.
The town of Giverny is in the Normandy region of France and is served by trains that leave Paris from the Gare Saint Lazare train station. It is situated on the main train route that goes from Paris to Rouen to Le Havre.
My day trip started early by first taking the Metro to the Saint Lazare station. There are a number of Metro stops that connect to the station underground that make this easy to get to. Look for the ‘SNCF – Grandes Lignes’ exit.
I used the Trainline website (or app) to find the departing train times to Vernon-Giverny, the town where Monet’s garden is located. I then used the SNCF self service machines at the train station to purchase a ticket. The machines are multilingual and are easy to use and accept tap credit cards.
The train trip was direct to Vernon-Giverny with no changes and took just under 90 minutes though there are some faster options depending on the day and time. With a pain-au-chocolate and a cup of cappuccino in hand, the train ride was relaxing as I watched the French countryside roll by.
Outside the Vernon-Giverny train station I took the waiting shuttle bus to Monet’s house and garden. I bought my ticket on board the bus. The bus schedule is timed to coincide with the arrival of the train so don’t dilly dally. If for some reason you miss the shuttle, you can always take a taxi.
The Giverny.org website has all the details you need on how to get there.
Make a note of the shuttle bus return times so you can plan accordingly. If you miss the last shuttle, you may have to walk the 7 km back to the train station.
Alternately, for a more scenic though slower approach, you can also rent bikes just outside the Vernon-Giverny train station.
A day in Giverny with Monet’s house and garden
Travel tip: Note that the Monet house and gardens are only open seasonally from April to November.
The Fondation Claude Monet manages the house and gardens. You can prepurchase tickets on line though I chose to wait in line and bought my ticket at the on site ticket office.
Much of Monet’s painting inspiration came from this property at Giverny where he lived from 1883 till his death in 1926. He designed and built the gardens and water lily pond so that he could paint them under various lighting conditions and in different seasons.
He planted the famous water lilies in very specific spots and knew when each type was supposed to bloom. As he became older, the retreat he created became his whole world and painting inspiration.
His home and garden have been a museum since 1990 and have been restored (a ten year project) to reflect how they looked when Monet lived and worked there.
I started my visit with a tour of the gardens. The garden is a balanced riot of plantings and chaotic color – not your typical orderly neat French garden bordered in boxwood hedges. You are free to walk around the periphery of the garden which allows you to see it from all perspectives.
An underground passage under the railroad tracks takes you to the other part of Monet’s property where you can see the famous water lily pond and Japanese bridge. You can walk all around the water garden as well as get views of the pond from the Japanese bridge. Expect to have to share the views with many other visitors.
You can also tour the inside of the house and see the various rooms that the Monet family lived in. The house is covered in greenery and seamlessly blends in with the gardens. The house is very long – it had to be large enough to house Claude, his wife and 8 children.
Even inside his home, Monet loved color and decorated against the usual dark Victorian trends of the time. The sitting room was bright blue, the dining room was bright yellow and the kitchen was all blue and white tiles. Everywhere hang the Japanese wood block prints that he collected and inspired him.
Besides Monet’s house and gardens, there is also an Impressionist Museum in Giverny (Museé des Impressionnismes Giverny)- turn left on Rue Claude Monet.
Further down the street (about a ten minute walk), past galleries, cafes and shops, I found Église Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny where Claude and his family attended church and where he and the family are buried.
If you are looking for a place to eat, there are quite a few restaurants in the village of Giverny on Rue Claude Monet.
A day in Giverny was a pleasant and easy way to get away from the chaos of Paris, especially in the summer. I am glad I had a chance to finally visit.
Thanks for visiting.
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