Impressions of Monet – A Day in Giverny

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 north west of Paris and can easily be reached by train for a relaxing break from the busy Paris scene.

Claude Monet is considered to be 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. No wonder every museum worth an admission ticket has a few original Monet paintings in their collection. About 10 percent, or 250 paintings were of his beloved water lily pond at his home in Giverny.


One section of the massive water lily paintings in the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris.

Monet lived in the house and gardens at Giverny from 1883 till his death in 1926.  He designed and built the gardens and water lily pond so that he could paint them in different light conditions and different seasons.  He planted the 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. The garden is a balanced riot of plantings and chaotic color – not your typical orderly neat French garden.  You can only 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 pond as well as get views from the Japanese bridge. Expect to have to share the views with many other visitors.

Claude Monet’s water lily pond as seen from the Japanese bridge

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 is bright blue, the dining room is bright yellow and the kitchen is all blue and white tiles.  Everywhere hang the Japanese wood block prints that he collected and inspired him.

The Monet family home

Besides Monet’s house and gardens, there is also an Impressionist Museum in Giverny – turn left on Rue Claude Monet. Further down the street (about a ten minute walk), past galleries, cafes and shops, is Église Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny where Claude and his family attended church and where he and the family are buried.

Claude Monet’s home in Giverny is open from spring to fall only. If you are not driving, to get to Giverny, take a train from the Paris-Saint-Lazare train station to the Vernon-Giverny station, about a 40-60 minute train ride.  A bus shuttle links Vernon-Giverny train station and Monet’s house and gardens.

Thanks for visiting.