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  • Writer's pictureAlex van Terheyden

Journey to Impressionism: A Guide to Visiting Monet's Gardens and Exploring Giverny from Paris

Nestled in the verdant heart of the Normandy region lies Giverny, a village that resonates with the legacy of one of the most revered artists in history, Claude Monet. Giverny, known as the birthplace of Claude Monet's artistic genius, is more than just a place; it's a destination for anyone who appreciates art and the natural world. With its verdant surroundings and peaceful atmosphere, this charming village was instrumental in the Impressionist movement, chiefly due to Claude Monet's Gardens and House, which continue to be a major attraction for tourists from all over the world.


Giverny's charms go far beyond Monet's own land; its old-world French architecture, quaint streets, and the slow pace of country life all combine to create an atmosphere that seems to have stood the test of time. A trip to Giverny is more than just an excursion; it's a chance to enter a living canvas where Impressionist brushstrokes meld with the raw beauty of Normandy to create a singular, immersive experience that never fails to enthral and inspire.


Monet's Gardens, Japanese Garden, France, Normandy, Visiting Giverny
The Japanese Bridge - Monet Gardens

Getting to Giverny from Paris


Public Transport:

The journey to Giverny from Paris is both straightforward and scenic, making it an ideal day trip. The most common route involves taking a train from Paris Saint-Lazare station to Vernon, the closest station to Giverny. Trains run frequently, usually every hour, and the journey takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Upon arriving in Vernon, visitors can choose between a local bus service, which directly connects to Giverny or a taxi. The bus schedule is often coordinated with the train arrivals, and the ride to Giverny takes about 15 minutes. Train tickets vary in price, but it's advisable to book in advance for the best deals, especially during the tourist season.


Guided Tours:

For those preferring a more structured experience, guided tours from Paris are an excellent option. These tours typically include round-trip transportation from Paris, and entrance tickets to Monet's Gardens, and often feature guided walks through both the gardens and the village of Giverny. Some tours also offer additional insights into Monet's life and his artistic journey, enhancing the overall experience. Prices and itineraries vary, so it's recommended to research and book in advance. My recommendation is to use the site Viator to find the perfect Tour.



Driving:

Driving from Paris to Giverny offers flexibility and the chance to explore the picturesque Normandy countryside at your own pace. The journey takes about 1.5 hours via the A13 motorway. Upon reaching Giverny, there are designated parking areas for visitors near Monet's Gardens. Parking is typically free, but spaces can fill up quickly during peak tourist season, so early arrival is advisable.


Biking:

For the adventurous and active traveller, biking from Vernon to Giverny is a delightful option. Bike rentals are available in Vernon, and the ride to Giverny is about 5 kilometres, taking you through beautiful paths along the Seine River and the lush countryside. This option not only offers a unique and eco-friendly way to travel but also allows visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the region at a leisurely pace. The bike route is well-marked and suitable for riders of all levels.

Watter Lillies, Claude Monet, Giverny, Normandy France
The Water Lilly Pond

The Gardens of Monet


The Clos Normand and the Water Garden:

Upon entering Monet's Gardens in Giverny, visitors are greeted by two distinctly captivating areas – the Clos Normand and the Water Garden.


The Clos Normand is a captivating collection of vibrantly coloured flower beds that is situated in front of Claude Monet's home. Wander through this area and you'll find arches covered in climbing plants that offer a kaleidoscope of colours and scents, as well as a rich tapestry of flowers that change with the seasons.


The Water Garden is only a short stroll away. It is well-known for its green Japanese bridge covered in wisteria and its peaceful water lilies floating in the pond, which are captured in Monet's paintings. Monet's own creation, the Water Garden, is evidence of his passion for Japanese gardening, which had a significant impact on his art. Visitors are taken into a living painting by the soft play of light and shadow across the water's surface and the serene atmosphere, which offers a glimpse into the settings that served as inspiration for some of Monet's most well-known pieces.


Bamboo Forest
Bamboo in Claude Monet Japanese Garden

The Best Times to Go:

It's important to visit Monet's Gardens at the right time to fully enjoy its beauty. Weekdays and early in the mornings are typically less crowded times to visit the gardens. Late spring and early summer are the best times to visit the gardens in full bloom, as this is when the water lilies in the Water Garden start to bloom and the flowers in the Clos Normand are at their most colourful. A new colour palette with rich golden tones and softer light is brought about by autumn.


Watch my video on Monet's Gardens, which is at the top of this blog post, to get a personal look at the fame and splendour of these gardens. In addition to capturing the breathtaking aesthetic appeal of the gardens, the video gives you an idea of how crowded they can get, which will help you better organise your visit. The display of these gardens' lush landscapes, play of light, and timeless charm provides a taste of the magical experience you can expect when visiting Giverny.


Claude Monet House, How to visit Claude Monet House
The Beautiful House of Impressionist Artist Claude Monet in Giverny France

Monet's House


A visit to Giverny would be incomplete without stepping inside Monet's house, where the artist lived and worked for over 40 years. The house's interior is a vivid reflection of Monet's personality and artistic preferences. As you enter, you'll be greeted by vibrant colours and an intimate glimpse into the life of the Impressionist master.


The Studio and Living Spaces:

Monet's large studio, where he created many of his masterpieces, is one of the highlights. This space, now converted into a gallery displaying reproductions of his paintings, offers insights into his creative process. The rest of the house includes his private living quarters, where the decor and personal belongings remain much as they were during his lifetime, providing a sense of connection to the artist.


Japanese Prints and Dining Room:

An avid collector of Japanese prints, Monet adorned his home with these exquisite artworks, which can be seen throughout, especially in the first-floor sitting room. These pieces not only decorated his home but also influenced his artistic vision. Another striking feature is the dining room, known for its bright yellow colour scheme and blue-tiled kitchen, both radiating the same joy and use of colour found in his gardens.


Ticket Purchasing and Waiting Times:

To visit Monet's house, it's advisable to purchase tickets in advance, especially during the peak tourist season. Tickets can be bought online, which helps in planning your visit and avoiding long waiting times. The house can get quite busy, with peak times often resulting in queues. Early morning or late afternoon visits tend to be less crowded. Keep in mind that the house, like the gardens, is closed during the winter months, reopening in late March or early April through to November.

The Japanese Bridge Monet Gardens Giverny Normandy France, Travel Guide, How to get there from Paris
The Bridge in the Distance

Discovering the Village of Giverny


While Monet's Gardens and House are undoubtedly the main attractions in Giverny, the village itself offers a wealth of experiences that encapsulate the charm of rural French life and the legacy of the Impressionist movement.


Art Galleries and Museums:

Giverny is home to several art galleries, each offering a unique perspective on the region's artistic heritage. These galleries feature works by local artists, many of whom draw inspiration from the same landscapes that captivated Monet. A must-visit is the Musée des Impressionismes Giverny, dedicated to the history and influence of the Impressionist movement. This museum not only showcases artworks but also explores the impact of Impressionism on contemporary art.


Local Eateries:

The village’s culinary scene provides a delightful complement to its visual arts. Cosy cafes and traditional French bistros line the streets, offering the perfect opportunity to savour local cuisine. From freshly baked pastries to hearty Norman dishes, these eateries provide a taste of the region's gastronomic offerings. Don’t miss the chance to try some local cider, a speciality of the Normandy region. Be sure to try some regional specialities, such as dishes made with locally produced cheese and apples. Remember, in France, meals are often leisurely, so take your time to savour the food and the experience.


Walking Through Giverny:

Strolling through Giverny is like stepping back in time. The village's architecture, with its charming stone houses and blooming gardens, creates a picturesque setting. Several walking routes lead you through the village, along the Epte River, and into the surrounding countryside. These paths offer not only serene views but also a chance to appreciate the slower pace of life that defines rural France. The walkways are well-marked and suitable for casual strolls, allowing visitors to absorb the tranquil beauty at their own pace.


Claude Monet Road
Rue Claude Monet

Exploring Giverny extends beyond Monet’s legacy; it’s an immersion into a landscape that has long been a haven for artists, food enthusiasts, and those seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a foodie, or just someone in search of a tranquil escape, Giverny promises a memorable experience rich in culture, history, and natural beauty.


A visit to Giverny and Monet's Gardens can be a fulfilling day trip from Paris, but for those wishing to immerse themselves more deeply in the serene atmosphere, staying overnight is a great option. Here are some practical tips to enhance your visit:


Accommodation Options:

Giverny and its surroundings offer a range of accommodation options, from charming bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels. Staying in one of the village's B&Bs allows for a more intimate experience of local life. For a more luxurious stay, there are several hotels in the area that provide modern comforts in a picturesque setting. Booking in advance is highly recommended, especially during the tourist season, to secure the best spots.


  1. Low Range: La Pluie de Roses

  • A cosy bed and breakfast that offers a comfortable and quaint stay. It provides a more intimate experience of Giverny, perfect for travellers looking for a charming, budget-friendly option. Guests can expect a warm, homely atmosphere in a picturesque setting​.

  1. Mid Range: La Reserve

  • This bed and breakfast strikes a balance between comfort and affordability. It's ideal for those who seek a bit more refinement in their stay without venturing into luxury pricing. La Reserve offers a pleasant stay with good amenities and a welcoming environment​.

  1. High Range: Hôtel Le Jardin des Plumes

  • For those seeking a more luxurious experience, Hôtel Le Jardin des Plumes is a top choice. This hotel combines elegance with the serene beauty of Giverny, offering top-notch services, exquisite dining, and an overall upscale experience. It's perfect for visitors who want to indulge in a bit of luxury during their stay​.


Each of these accommodations offers a unique way to experience Giverny, catering to different tastes and budgets. Whether you're looking for a simple stay to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, a comfortable middle-ground, or a luxurious retreat, Giverny has options to suit your preferences.


Best places to eat in Giverny
A Baguette & Wine @ Au Coin du Pain'tre

Cultural Etiquette and Tips:

Understanding and respecting local customs will enrich your visit. Here are a few tips:

  • Greeting with a polite "Bonjour" when entering shops or restaurants is customary.

  • Dining etiquette is important in France; remember to keep your hands on the table and try not to rush through your meal.

  • Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory; rounding up the bill or leaving a small extra amount for good service is customary.

  • In Giverny, preserving the tranquillity and beauty of the environment is important to locals. Be mindful of your surroundings, especially in the gardens and when exploring the village.


With thoughtful planning and respect for local customs, your visit to Giverny and Monet's Gardens can be a wonderfully enriching experience. Whether you're there for the art, the cuisine, or simply the peaceful ambience, Giverny offers a unique glimpse into a world where art, nature, and French culture intertwine seamlessly.


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