When people visit France a majority of them have Paris on their list first; as excited as we were to go to Paris, we had our sights on Giverny. Why? Because Monet is a family name and I grew up admiring my Meme (grandmother) telling me stories of her dad visiting her great uncle Claude Monet. Her dad would come back and tell her word for word, painting by painting, color by color what Monet’s house and gardens looked like so, that when she finally visited the house and gardens herself it was like she had already been there! As I said, she passed these stories down to me so that when I visited I too had felt like I had been there already. Being at Monet’s house and gardens
How to Get to Claude Monet’s House and Gardens
Visiting Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and gardens is one of the best and easiest day trips from Paris. There are several ways you can get to Monet’s house and gardens – if you do a group tour it will pick you up by bus from Paris and take you straight there or if you go on your own you can take the train to Vernon, (a city close to Giverny), and from the train station, you can take a taxi, bus or bike.
For our little day trip to Giverny, we took the earliest train. From the Vernon train station, you will need to make your way to Giverny which can be achieved in a few ways. The bus, taxi, or bike. If you would like to take the local bus, make sure you check the Vernon local bus schedule for their Giverny departure times. We arrived so early, the buses were not operating yet. Another option to get to Giverny from Vernon is by taking a taxi.
The last and highly recommended option is renting a bike. Across from the Vernon train station is a local restaurant/bar that also has bike rentals. The bike rental costs around 15€ each for the entire day and includes a lock and helmet. The bike ride to Giverny and Claude Monet’s House and Gardens is very easy to follow and an easy difficulty level.
Biking in Giverny
There are a lot of favorite moments we look back on from our time in Europe and biking in the countryside of Giverny, France is definitely one of them! We actually hadn’t biked since our jungle biking adventure on our honeymoon 10 months ago and therefore it took us a little bit to pick it back up. You know what they say though, “it’s like riding a bike!” It truly only took us less than 5 minutes to feel comfortable. The bike shop/restaurant staff gave us directions to Monet’s house and gardens, but after about three left and right turns we lost track – thank goodness for GPS on our phones. We simply placed our phones in our front basket on our bike (used bike directions on the GPS) and we were on our way! A few people ended up following us on our route because we were one of the few who knew exactly where we were going. Luckily we were biking during a beautiful morning with a bright blue sky. The sun was also out, but thankfully it was not too hot. We quickly crossed a bridge going over a river and the landscape took our breath away. Vibrant green rolling hills were our view as we biked over the bridge and when we looked left or right we would see an endless river.
Biking was a popular source of transportation because there was always a bike path for us. As we got closer to our destination we had a private bike path with trees looming over us providing us with shade. I do not think I can describe the feeling, but basically I felt like I was in a romantic chic flick movie, a crazy-in-love couple biking through the beautiful countryside of France. I mean it was truly an amazing feeling and we were both so happy.
Claude Monet’s House and Gardens
We arrived before the doors were open, around 9 am, and there was already a line – we were probably behind at least 20 people. I had tried to purchase our tickets online to skip the line, but was unsuccessful. If the website to purchase the tickets online is working I would highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance. After about a 45 minute wait we were inside the estate and I felt a step closer to my ancestor.
Claude Monet had two gardens in his estate – a flower garden called Clos Normand, which is in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden found on the other side of the road (accessed by an underground tunnel from the Clos Normand garden). Both gardens are beautiful and you feel as if you were transported into another world. The gardens do have some contrast as one is full of color and flowers whereas, the other garden were in shades of green and reflected Japan. Though they are different they still complement one another.
As we walked I felt like I needed a paint brush in my hand, everything was so beautiful. It was really no surprise why he painted so many masterpieces while he was in his garden. I also felt at peace and was in a complete state of happiness – I was in my great great great uncle’s famous garden and walking the same steps he did. It was all beyond amazing!
I have never seen so many pretty and unique flowers in one place. There were rows and rows of flowers with gravel pathways. Most pathways you were able to walk, but the main way, the picturesque one, was closed off. The view of the garden from the house was wonderful. I can only imagine what a happy life it was to live in this house with these beautiful views everyday.
When you take the underground tunnel from the Clos Normand garden you feel as if you are now in another world, specifically Japan. I tried to remain calm, and be patient, but every muscle in my body was eager to walk fast and finally have my eyes to see the famous water lilies. I had to walk through some bamboo pathways first, but in a blink of an eye I saw them. The water lilies are everything I have ever imagined all these years and more. There were not a lot of flowers bloomed, but the green leaves floating in the water were enough for me. The pond was a lot bigger than I had anticipated and was full of water lilies.
Alas, the Japanese bridge… I walked across the bridge several times, I stood there taking in the moment, snapped pictures, I did everything I could till my heart was full of happiness. To be honest though, the famous Japanese Bridge painting is far better than the bridge in real life. The bridge in the painting had so much “life” to it than when I saw it in person. Nevertheless, as I said, I took in every moment.
The line to get inside the house was extremely long, but well worth the wait. It is pretty well organized and once you are inside it has a fluid movement. You can also go at your own pace, we never felt rushed or claustrophobic. All the rooms were kept as they were years ago and were well maintained.
The room I was most excited about though, was the kitchen and dining room because of my Meme’s stories, this was the room she talked about the most. Now it had felt like I had been here before. All these years hearing the stories had come to a full circle when I saw the kitchen. Now I look forward to passing the story to my children one day. The dining room is a vibrant yellow with beautiful pieces of Chinaware hung on the wall and placed inside cabinets. The next room was the blue and white tiled kitchen with copper pans – it was the cutest dining room and kitchen I had ever seen.
Another room that I enjoyed was Monet’s office and the Monet foundation hung so many of Monet’s lifetime pieces of art. It was like Monet’s own museum and it was really remarkable.
Before we left we went to the store so that I could purchase my first Monet painting. Growing up we always had a Monet painting in our kitchen and at my grandparents house they have one too. I was so excited to finally have my own. Though it is small it is a good start. There were so many options to choose from, but I finally decided on the water lilies. Our painting is now hung in our dining room.
After about two hours in Monet’s house and gardens we felt it was time to say, “avior” and bike around Giverny and grab some lunch before we head back to Paris. The town of Giverny was lovely. It had bike lanes and beautiful architecture. We came across so many wonderful buildings and structures such as, houses, a cathedral, a castle and a picturesque, forbidden house on a broken bridge. We both really enjoyed our morning at Giverny and highly recommend this city to everyone. Of course there is Claude Monet’s house and gardens to see, but this city has a lot more to offer.