Monet’s Garden in Giverny
One of my favorite things I have done living in Paris so far was visiting Monet’s Garden in Giverny. Only 75km outside of Paris, this is a great day trip to escape the city and explore the house where the impressionist genius lived and found inspiration for his most beautiful creations. You truly feel like you are walking right into one of his paintings and see it come to life.
Already aware that visiting on a Saturday would be crowded on a sunny day, we took the train from Saint Lazare to Vernon, as early as possible. The trains for Vernon only leave about every 2 to 3 hours, so timing is everything for the 45 minute train ride from Paris.
When arriving at the station, it is easy to think to yourself, “Ok, now what?” There are several options. A shuttle bus for 8 euro roundtrip, which runs every 2 hours according to the train schedule or renting bikes from one of the local vendors across from the station. You cannot miss them otherwise there are always taxis. The bike is the best way to go because it is only about 3 miles and a very easy path out of the way of the cars. I was lucky enough to take the full bike tour through the countryside past the gardens in March.
Arriving at the entrance, we followed the crowds of people excited to live like Monet. We enter into a back secluded neighborhood lined with cute cottage-like houses and immediately saw the sign that read, “Rue Claude Monet”. Sarcastically I asked my friend, “Hey, I wonder if this is it?”
Overwhelmed with the impressionist museum, independent art galleries and adorable little shops, we decided to set up the picnic we brought first to prepare us for the long entrance line awaiting us. There is a cute outdoor garden cafe next to the information center with sandwiches, snacks, coffee and beer but we thought bringing a picnic is always a bit more fun.
When we finished lunch, stood in line and paid our 9.50 euro, we were ready to indulge in the artist’s world. I had to laugh when, just like at Disney World, we had to first walk through the gift shop. Though I am not going to lie, it was one of the most impressive gift shops I have ever seen. Even Monet would have been impressed!
Finally, after what now seemed a trek through the desert we were greeted by the beautiful, “Clos Normand”, the flower and fruit tree garden. Overflowing with green, blue, red and yellow flowers, including many flowers and even colors I didn’t even know existed.
Spening our time walking in out of the rows in awe of how the Claude Monet foundation has kept true to Monet’s original style. Monet apparently, liked to plant his flowers using sporadic colors and no organization so they could grow freely. Seems to fit his paintings perfectly.
After taking as many photos as we could, since I consider this garden a photographers dream world, we headed down the underpass to the water lily pond. Monet bought this land 10 years after he purchased his house in 1893 and thank God he did! The inspiration for some of his most famous paintings and the pond was more beautiful in real life. I wanted to spend hours here just relaxing and even with tons of tourists and flashing camera’s everywhere, you could see how this would be on of the most calming place in the world.
This area of the garden was also important to me because it held the Japanese bridge where my brother-in-law proposed to my sister. I had been waiting for the gardens to bloom so I could finally see where their magical moment happened.
Though the beauty of the lily pond was inspiring enough for me to paint my own painting, reality hit and it was already 5:30 PM. We wanted a chance to see the inside of Monet’s house and I am so glad we did. This was actually my favorite part of the entire property. His house was bright and was set up almost as he was still living there and just ran out to the grocery store. I wish I could have taken pictures but had to respect the no picture sign for inside his house. Some things are good to keep as a memory.
We exited back into the gardens, ready to leave for the afternoon. On the way back out of the property, we met a very cool resident artist. We asked what it was like living here and he said, “Though there are a lot of tourists, I like to meet all the people from all around the world. It is beautiful here but nice when the visitors come because sometimes it is just too quiet!” I wonder if Monet would have felt the same way today.
If you are visiting Paris during the spring or summer and want to make the day trip to Giverny, here is the information on pricing, times and how to travel from Paris. When you visit and not in rush to get back to Paris, have dinner in historic Vernon’s cute downtown with outdoor restaurants, shops and cool gothic church.
The garden is open from April 1st to November 1st, 9:30am to 6:00pm everyday.
Adults- 9.50 euro
Children and students-7.00
You can also avoid the line by buying online here!
Getting to Monet’s Garden in Giverny from Paris:
1. Take the train from Saint Lazare station in Paris to Vernon. The 45 minute ride will cost about 26 euro but prices change. The trains only leave about every 2 to 3 hours so try to catch an early one if possible. Timetables are available here on SNCF. www.sncf.com
2. When arriving in Vernon, here are a few options to the gardens.
- The shuttle bus is 8 euro round trip and departs from the station according to the train schedule.
- Taxis are available right outside the station and will cost you about 8 euro one way. The good part is the shuttle bus is available to take back to the station should you choose this option.
- Renting a bike across the street at one of the bike rental centers or cafe. There is also the option for a full day tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours. They offer a full day tour from Paris for 75 euro. A nice alternative if you wanted a guided tour.paris.fattirebiketours.com/tours/monets-gardens-bike-tour
3. Driving can cost around 50 to 100 euro depending on again, how much you book it in advance.