Tucked away in an unassuming hamlet, 50 miles west of Paris is Giverny, the location of the house and gardens of the renowned artist Claude Monet, making this the perfect day trip from Paris.
Take the train journey from the capital and pass through the beautiful French countryside on your way to experience the magic that Monet created. Reflect on the beauty of his waterlily garden, captured in over 200 of his paintings and wander through his vibrantly painted house and informal gardens bursting with colour and scent.
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How to Get There
From Paris, Gare Saint Lazare take the hour-long train journey to Vernon. From Vernon to Giverny, travel by shuttle bus, taxi or by foot. The shuttle bus awaits each train’s arrival and departs for the 15-minute journey to Giverny shortly afterwards. Book online for an organised half-day trip with skip-the-line entrance tickets.
Who was Claude Monet?
Claude Monet was a founder of the French Impressionism movement developed in Paris in the 1860s. He experimented with synthetic pigments to develop a more subtle and lighter way of capturing his subject. The Impressionists embraced natural landscapes that could be brought to life using this style.
Monet moved from Paris to Giverny in 1883 and began a lifetime of painting subjects from his house and gardens. In 1899 he started painting his famous water lilies and continued for the next 20 years. Monet was a realist and would paint the same object several times to capture its beauty and depth in different lights throughout the seasons.
Monet’s Famous Gardens
There are two parts to Monet’s gardens. A flower garden called Clos Normand and a Japanese-inspired water garden on the other side of the road.
Clos Normand surrounds the house and is a riot of colour; pink, yellow, orange and red flowers fight for the visitor’s attention. Monet did not want an organised or constrained garden and so left it to grow freely. He mixed delicate, simple flowers like daisies and poppies with rare and robust varieties to give a rambling non-uniformed feel.
The garden is dense and beautiful, with roses climbing over iron arches from the front of the house to the back of the garden, allowing the visitor to enjoy colour and scent at every turn.
Clos Normand, as viewed from Monet’s House
Monet’s Japanese Water Lily Garden
Head across the road leading from Monet’s house via a small tunnel. It is here you will find the Japanese Water Lily Garden – one of the most famous gardens in Europe.
Ten years after arriving in Giverny, Monet discovered a small brook near the house and purchased it. With his love of gardening, he expanded the brook into a pond and then into the Japanese Water Gardens.
Even if you have never visited France, you will surely recognise this garden from the famous water lilies that have been the subject of Monet’s famous paintings. It is far smaller and more unassuming than you may imagine; however, when you stand on the wisteria-covered green Japanese bridge, purposely painted this colour to distinguish it from the traditional red bridges in Japan, you will feel like you are in a living work of art.
Stroll around the pond with its adjoining bamboo grove, weeping willows, maple trees and lilies – a nod to the Japanese theme he loved so much – and imagine Monet waiting for the right atmospheric conditions to paint his beloved flowers. It is a magical place, and visiting it will leave you with a new understanding of the world-famous water-lily paintings and their creator.
A view of the water lilies from the Japanese Bridge
The House of Claude Monet
After wandering around the sensational gardens Monet’s house awaits your visit. Restored to its former glory and opened to the public in 1980, a ticket allows you entry; however, you cannot take photographs once inside.
The house is large but cosy, with rooms painted in vibrant colours. The bright yellow dining room and sky blue kitchen are a particular assault on the senses. Open windows are dressed in lace, and look out onto the beautiful Clos Normand garden, while the pretty pink and green facade of the house blends in perfectly with its surroundings.
Monet’s pink and green painted house blends perfectly with the roses.
An interesting observation is that none of Monet’s pieces adorns the walls. Instead, his home is overflowing with Japanese prints, furniture and other oriental art that inspired his creativity. Most of Monet’s works are in the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris; however, in 2019, his painting entitled “Meules”, depicting a scene from his “Haystack series”, sold for $110 million to a German software tycoon!
I am pleased to say that I have seen an original water-lily painting by Monet in The National Gallery in London. It made quite an impression on me after visiting the actual garden that had inspired its creation.
Giverney is a perfect day trip from Paris, but before returning or continuing to Versailles, you may like to visit the grave in the village church cemetery, a 10-15 minute walk from Monet’s home and gardens.
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