Giverny is the ideal romantic escape to add the cherry on the cake to your trip to Paris. I had been dreaming about visiting this charming little town in Normandy since the day I visited the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. The museum’s exposition of Claude Monet's Water Lilies is so beautiful and the size of the paintings just makes you want to be able to jump inside the magical landscape…
☞ Best time to go
Giverny’s main attraction is Claude Monet’s house and gardens which are open from 25th March to 1st November meaning that outside this period there's not much going on.
You would think that spring is the best time to visit the gardens for all the flowers in bloom but I must say that visiting in the summer is also just as beautiful. Having gone in the month of August, I was surprised by the immense varieties of plants and flowers that were all in full bloom. Each season has a different variety of flowers in bloom: tulips, daffodils and cherry blossom in the spring; roses, poppies, sunflowers and waterlilies in the summer; and dahlias and other warm coloured flowers in the autumn.
🚗 Getting there
Only 75km away from Paris, you can get to Giverny under an hour either by car or by taking a train from Paris-Saint Lazare station to Vernon (return ticket from 22€- book now). From Vernon station there are shuttles that go to Giverny 15 minutes after the train arrivals. If you’re feeling sporty then you can always rent a bike from Vernon and cycle to Giverny on the cycle lane which is about 7km away.
We rented a car with Virtuo. A new mobile app which enables you to pick up your rented car (all Mercedes Class A) in one of Paris main parking lots (Gare du Nord, Gare de Lyon, Montparnasse or Madeleine) without any intermediaries as your phone is your key to open the car. Only 45€/day! Get started by creating your account here.
🏨 Where to stay
We statyed at the Jardins d’Hélène - a beautiful B&B in the heart of Giverny (rooms from 95€/night including breakfast). The owner, Sandrine, is a wonderful kind lady from Paris who opened her B&B a few years ago. Each room is decorated in its own style. We stayed in the Misty room and had a lovely stay as we really felt at home. They also have a wonderful back garden with a pond and more flowers. During the winter season when Monet's house is closed, Sandrine organises several activities such as wine courses, yoga, and diverse outdoor excursions.
🍴 Where to eat
There are several cafes and restaurants on the main street of Giverny but if you’re looking for a good gastronomical meal then there is no doubt that you should go to the Michelin-starred restaurant of the Jardin des Plumes hotel (3-course menu starting at 48€). My insider tip is that you can buy your tickets to Monet’s house here to avoid the long queues.
In addition to all the lovely little antique shops and art galleries of impressionist artists, the main place to visit in Giverny is the Fondation Claude Monet. We all want to relive his remarkable paintings and see for real the picturesque landscape where he lived to get his inspirations. Did you know that it’s the second most visited place in Normandy after the famous Mont Saint-Michel (over 500 000 visitors during the season)?
Entrance: Adult - 9.50€ / Child & Students - 5.50€ / Disabled - 4€/ Child under 7 - free
The gardens are divided into 2 areas:
The Clos-Normand with thousands of beautiful and rare flowers which is the first garden you enter. Apparently, Monet wasn’t a fan of organised gardens so he planted flowers in accordance with their colours and then just left them to grow freely.
The Water Lily Pond which is accessed through a tunnel that goes under the main road to the other side of the railway. Monet bought this piece of land in 1893 and transformed it into a Japanese inspired water garden making it worldwide famous for his series of about 250 oil paintings- Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies). In the water garden there is the famous green Japanese bridge and other smaller ones, weeping willows, bamboos and, most importantly, the renowned waterlilies which are in full bloom during the summer.
You can also visit Monet’s house which is made up of two floors with his bedroom on the top floor. I loved the yellow dining room and the blue-tiled kitchen which are next to each other on the ground floor.
If you're a flower and nature lover like me or if you’re looking for a romantic weekend or an idea for a small trip from Paris then Giverny is the place to go. I do hope that my post will encourage you to visit this wonderful town soon. I know for a fact that I’ll be returning one day for a relaxing escape form the hectic French capital.
When are you next going to Giverny?
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English and French wanderer. Based in Paris. Tasting the world through one escape to another...