Giverny is a small neighborhood not far from Paris with a population of over 500 people. However, this picturesque village became famous worldwide thanks to one man: Claude Monet, Father of the French Impressionism.
It's a perfect day trip from Paris, to enjoy nature in a place with huge importance in Art History. Because Giverny is not only an essential stop of the impressionist route in the Seine Valley, it is also a crucial landmark in the artistic transition from Impressionism to the art of the 20th century.
Giverny is quite an easy day trip from Paris. There are of course many companies offering organized tours from Paris, but you will save a lot (and be much more free) if you go there by yourself. The trains to Giverny depart from Gare Saint-Lazare, almost every hour. The closest train Station is Vernon (it takes one hour to reach it from Saint Lazare. From Vernon station, you have several options: first, you can walk! It's around 1h15 to reach Giverny, but the walk worths it, since there is a nice countryside path to go there. You can also opt for public transportation: there are two options, a shuttle bus and a little train, taking both approximately 15 minutes to reach Giverny. They usually depart few minutes after the train from Paris arrives, so usually you don't have to wait much for it. They both cost 10€ for round trip. Be careful for your return, because at some times there are more people waiting than seats available in the bus/train! So try to arrive in advance before the departing from Giverny.
You can easily see the main touristic "spots" within a day, or even half a day if you do it quick. However, if you want to feel the spirit of the town without tourists, you can plan to spend one night in the village, to enjoy a peaceful evening and morning time, and discover the town almost like how Monet did 150 years ago!
Technically you can visit Giverny any time of the year. However, since the beauty of the place is very much linked with the blooming of flowers, there are specific periods much more recommended to discover it. The best season to enjoy field flowers, such as poppy, is between April and June. If you want to see the water lily flowers, then it is better between end of June and August. But flower varieties are blooming one after another so that the garden changes gradually with the seasons while keeping its colors and brightness, and Autumn is very pleasant too.
Monet Garden is opening from April 1st to November 1st. Moreover, the shuttle bus from Vernon to Giverny only works from April to October. Keep in mind that Giverny is a very famous tourist attraction in Paris region, so if you want to enjoy the garden without hundreds of people around, it is better to avoid weekends, public holidays etc...
Giverny is famous for Monet Garden. But there are many other places to enjoy there. The town of Giverny is big enough to walk around and most places can be covered if you are walking for about 30 minutes.
Claude Monet noticed the village of Giverny while looking out of a train window. He made up his mind to move there and rented a house and the area surrounding it. In 1890 he had enough money to buy the house and land outright and set out to create the magnificent gardens he wanted to paint. Some of his most famous paintings were of his garden in Giverny. Claude Monet's property at Giverny (house and gardens), left by his son to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1966, became a Museum opened to public visit in 1980 after completion of large-scale restoration work: the huge Nymphea's studio was restored and the precious Monet collection of Japanese engravings was displayed in several rooms, hung in the manner chosen by the master himself; the gardens were replanted as they once were.
Monet lived in the house with its famous pink brick façade from 1883 until his death in 1926. He and many members of his family are interred in the village cemetery. The long years Monet spent at his house in Giverny would turn it into a place of artistic pilgrimage, even in his lifetime.
Monet designed several exuberantly colorful gardens, the most ambitious of which was his famous water garden complete with lily ponds: with its Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas instantly bring to mind the brilliant interpretations of them painted by Monet, the world-famous "Nympheas" (Water Lilies) that can be seen in Musée de l'Orangerie. French President Georges Clemenceau, a friend of Monet, once rightly declared that Monet’s gardens counted among his masterpieces.
The home of the Master of Impressionism has retained the colors, furniture, Japanese prints and china that Monet so loved.
Monet spent most of his time in this second-floor room with warm impressions decorated with antique furniture. If you look outside the window over his bed you would see, lush green trees and colourful flowers painting a beautiful picture, and the fragrance of light flowers sets the mood.
The admission fee is 11.5 euros for adults, 7€ euros for students under 26 years old, and children. You can buy directly the tickets there, however, there is always queues: a waiting time of about 20 minutes on weekdays and about 40 minutes on weekends is expected. So if you know in advance the exact time when you plan to visit, it is always better to buy online "skip the line" tickets (here). There are limited online tickets and it is usually needed to book them more than a week in advance.
The Foundation Claude Monet is open every day from April 1st to November 1st 2023 from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, last admission 5:30 pm. You will need around 1 to 2 hours to visit the whole place and enjoy it's unique atmosphere.
Poppy fields stroke the attention of the Impressionists painters, and Claude Monet himself was inspired by the poppy flowers in the fields surrounding Giverny, in many of his paintings (the most famous one, "Les Coquelicots", can be seen in Musée d'Orsay). To pay homage to these poppy fields, a little hill in the upper part of the village, near the Museum of Impressionism, has been planted with many poppy flowers. It's a unique photo spot for flower lovers. The field cannot be crossed to protect the flowers, but a small path helps you to get very close to it, and to feel like a time traveler visiting Giverny at the time of Claude Monet.
Another main attraction of the village is the Museum of Impressionism. It focuses on its history, its origins, its geographic diversity, and its development into other art movements. It deals with Impressionist artists, as well as with the forerunners of the movement and its heirs from the end of the 19th century to today. Every year, there are two or three major exhibitions.
The museum is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (last admission at 5:30 pm). Tickets: 7.80 € for Adults, 6.30 € for Students. You need around one hour to visit the museum.
Hôtel Baudy is an hôtel and a restaurant where you can nice French food. Their special dish is the "omelette Baudy', omelet with duck gizzard and potatoes inside. The Hôtel Baudy was a center of artistic life in the Giverny heydey: this humble Giverny hotel turned into an establishment where the French & American Impressionism giants met, painted, and discussed art. Behind the hotel, you can discover a huge garden with an old rosery and a workshop, constructed in 1887, on the initiative of the painters, which Claude Monet himself used for painting.
Le Vieux Moulin (old mill) near Vernon, is a quiet and photogenic spot. It was built in the 16th century and used to be a watermill. It was painted by many Impressionists, including Monet. If you visit Giverny by the shuttle bus, you can ask them to stop you there and finish to come back to Vernon by walking (10 min, crossing the bridge on Seine river).
If you have time, the cute city of Vernon worths the visit! It has several very interesting Medieval houses, beautiful churches (like Collégiale Notre-Dame ), a Museum with many Impressionist masterpieces... And several nice restaurants, much cheaper than in Giverny!
Article and Photos: O'bon Paris Team