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Last Updated on 19th October 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
Best visited during the spring and summer seasons when the flowers are in bloom and blue skies are a near daily occurrence, the small Normandy village of Giverny is a must-see while in France. Here’s your ultimate guide to visiting Monet’s Giverny, as well as travel tips, and how to visit Giverny as a day trip from Paris.
Giverny is one of the most popular day trips from Paris thanks to its impressive claim to fame: Giverny is where Monet chose to spend his later years and where he created the kind of garden which makes even the greenest of thumbs green with envy.
Just a short 45-minute train journey from Paris St Lazare is the iconic Monet Foundation Garden in Giverny. Made famous by the French impressionist artist who needs no introduction, the Monet Garden in Giverny can be seen featured as the backdrop of countless of Monet’s works.
Claude Monet made Giverny his home in 1883, when he bought the iconic house (which was once abandoned) and remodelled the gardens himself. He created a small pool of water by manipulating the course of the Epte stream.
Monet also planted hundreds of flowers with the intention of having a garden that is full of colour all year ‘round. He called the garden his ‘greatest masterpiece’ and immortalised them in the equally famous paintings which now hang in the Orangerie museum in Paris.
The garden has a heavy Japanese influence, with the instantly recognisable green Japanese-style bridge traversing the basin of water which is the jewel in the garden’s crown. The most famous painting of this bridge is undoubtedly ‘Japanese Footbridge’ which hangs in Washington’s National Gallery of Art.
Paintings of the property started to emerge publicly in the 1890s, with a heavy focus on water, the garden’s landscaping, and the famous waterlilies (or ‘nympheas’ as they are called in French). Monet continued to paint the gardens for 40 years, until his death in 1926.
One of Monet’s most famous panoramic incarnations of his waterlilies can be seen as a permanent exhibition at Paris’ Orangerie museum in the Tuileries Garden, just a stone’s throw from the Louvre Museum.
The house itself boasts a stunning façade of pink and green, adorned with vines of Virginia creeper, adding a gorgeous blanket of greenery in the Spring and Summer months and a flush of deep red leaves in the Autumn.
In Spring, the garden is peppered with lilac wisteria and the pink blush of peonies, with vibrant geraniums and roses making their grand entrance in June, and dramatic dahlias creating a crescendo of colour in the late summer and early Autumn.
As such, it’s truly impossible to say when is the best time of year to visit the Monet Gardens in Giverny. My personal favourite, though, is probably in April-May as the garden first starts to come alive with colour.
That, or when the waterlilies reach their peak in July. Just note that the summer also happens to be the most popular time to visit Monet’s Giverny and so you won’t have as much of the place to yourself as you would if you visited in the fall.
As previously mentioned, the Monet Garden is very easily reachable from Paris and can certainly be done as part of a day trip if you simply wish to visit the gardens themselves. That said, the region has a lot to offer and there is a plethora of things to see and do in this lower part of Normandy.
Think medieval market towns, 1000-year-old ruined fortresses and breath-taking pastoral scenery, to name just a few attractions of the region. Particular highlights close to Giverny include La Roche Guyon (presided over by a crumbling fort, this town looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a storybook) and the Gothic cathedral of Évreux.
If you are indeed looking to go to Giverny for the day from Paris, I recommend taking the TER from St Lazare which is just a few stops from Vernon-Giverny station. The train journey takes less than one hour.
Tickets range from 9-16 euros and can be bought either at the station or online via sites such as Omio or SNCF connect. One big money-saver for the trip is if you have a Navigo weekly or monthly pass, you only need to book a ticket for the final leg of the train journey which is Mantes-la-Jolie until Vernon-Giverny, which will cost just 4 euros and can be bought online, in advance.
Upon arrival in the town of Vernon, where the Vernon-Giverny station is, you can then get to the Monet Garden by either taxi, shuttle bus or via the rather adorable tourist train which is just 10 euros for a return trip.
When staying in the Giverny region, you’ll be spoilt for choice for options, from hotels to ‘gite’ holiday homes to hotels of all calibres. Personally, I stayed in an Airbnb in the neighbouring village of Limetz-Villez, just a 5-minute drive from the Monet Garden.
However for those in search of a more luxurious stay, the hotel Domaine de la Corniche comes highly recommended. Built in 1908, it is highly charming and oozes Belle Epoque glamour. Check prices and availability here.
It is recommended to buy your entry tickets for the Monet Garden in advance. They are a very reasonable 11 euros 50 cents and can be bought easily via the Monet Foundation official website.
The only drawback to this is the fact that you must pick a specific arrival time, which may result in some inflexibility in your schedule. That said, truth be told I recommend being there for the opening time at 9.30am to be in with the best chance of avoiding the inevitable crowds that this landmark attracts.
Those who are looking to delve even deeper into the history of Giverny’s garden might consider booking a guided visit of the garden. This tour lasts for around an hour and a half and includes a skip-the-ticket-line entry ticket in the price of the tour. Check full details here.
Of course, if you would prefer for all of the transportation details to be taken care of for you, then there is a wide array of tours from Paris to Giverny, with an even greater selection taking place during the summer months:
Monet’s Garden Half-Day Tour from Paris: This half day tour is well-reviewed and includes 3 hours to explore Monet’s Water Garden, Monet’s House, and Claude Monet’s Tomb. Check prices and availability here.
Versailles-Giverny Day Tour with Lunch at Moulin de Fourges: If you are looking to see two of Paris’ greatest side trips as part of a single excursion, then this is the tour for you. Highlights include 3-course lunch with wine at Moulin de Fourges and a guided visit to Versailles. Check prices and availability here.
Small-Group Giverny and Van Gogh’s Room in Auvers from Paris: If you wish to discover two different artist’s homes in one day, then you can book this day trip which includes a visit to both Auvers-sur-Oise and Giverny. Check prices and availability here.
At La Ginguette de Giverny you will be able to find a very pleasant terrace which borders the same Epte stream which feeds the pool in Monet’s Garden. With very decent French brasserie fare and drinks at reasonable prices which can be enjoyed in the sunshine, it’s a popular spot for those also visiting Giverny in Spring and Summer. I liked it so much I have been twice!
Au Coin du Pain’tre is an adorable and familial bakery-come-restaurant, where you will be able to get coffee and tea, good quality baguette sandwiches and seasonal baked goods. I enjoyed their pear and pistachio tarte and would go back to Giverny just to have another slice.
If coming by train from Paris, you will arrive directly in the town of Vernon, which is definitely worth a stroll around. Perhaps a good spot to stop for a bite to eat before or after heading to the gardens, the town borders the Seine River and boasts plenty of landmarks that shouldn’t be missed.
These include the Vieux Moulin de Vernon with its neighbouring Chateau de Tourelles which looks like it belongs in the pages of a storybook, the Tour des Archives, Chateau de Bizy and the stunning Collegiale Notre Dame de Vernon.
For a deeper dive into the world of Impressionism, I would recommend a visit to the nearby Giverny Impressionists’ Museum, which will allow you to learn more about the history and significance of this movement, and how this symbiotic relationship with Giverny and artists came to be and continues to evolve to this day.
The Impressionists’ Museum is open daily during high season (May-September) between 10am and 6pm, with reduced hours in the off-season, and entry costs 10 euros.
Monet would meet with fellow art legends Cezanne, Renoir, Rodin, and others at the local establishment Hotel Brady. One could even call it the ‘Café de Flore’ of impressionism (the Parisian café made famous as the meeting place of literary masters such as Ernest Hemingway).
In fact, it was the spotlight that Monet’s arrival cast upon Giverny that led the original hotel owner Madame Baudy to open this now historical address. It was the start of a new era and allowed for this new impressionists’ colony to be born.
The road where Monet’s house and garden resides was later renamed in his honour to rue Claude Monet, standing as testament to the impact that he had, not only on Impressionism but also on the quiet rural village of Giverny.
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