When you think of a painter, who comes to mind? It could be Picasso and his intricate cubism masterpieces. Or maybe you think of Frida Kahlo and her colorful, powerful self-portraits. It’s highly likely that you also think of Claude Monet, the father of Impressionism, an artistic movement with an emphasis on the changing nature of light and capturing one’s own impression of a moment. Among Monet’s most famous paintings are his depictions of the flower gardens and water lilies in his own backyard. If you’ve ever wondered what these paintings would look like in real life, you can actually visit Monet’s home and gardens in the small town of Giverny.
How to Get There
This charming town is located 50 miles Northwest of Paris in the Normandy region of France. To get there you can take the regional TER train from Gare St-Lazare in Paris to Vernon-Giverny, then take the shuttle bus to the gardens and museum. You can find the train and bus schedules here. You could also drive there, but I recommend taking the train for a truly French experience!
When you first walk onto the grounds, you enter through the front gardens. Before you notice the house, you are mesmerized by all of the rows of flowers and trees. It’s easy to lose track of time wandering through the different pathways, admiring the colors of Spring and Summer and breathing in the soft floral scent in the air. There is a wide variety of plants so you could really spend a lot of time admiring each one you see.
After wandering around the front gardens you will notice Monet’s charming pink house with emerald green shutters. Most of the impressionist’s paintings are outside, so what does the inside of the artist’s house look like?
If you guessed charming, you’re right! This late 19th century home is filled with little knick-knacks and bright colors from the lemon yellow dining room to the royal blue and white kitchen.
Imagine if this was your kitchen… These classic French copper pots and pans are my almost too beautiful to be used for cooking!
A couple of my favorite decorations:
A glimpse of Monet’s Studio:
Curious to see more of his home? Take a virtual tour on the fondation Monet‘s website!
After exploring the painter’s home, it’s time to visit the most iconic part of his gardens: the Water Lily Pond! This part of the garden inspired many of his paintings with its water lilies, tranquil willow trees, and famous Japanese footbridges.
You can see some of his giant water lily paintings at the Orangerie museum in Paris, which also has a virtual visit.
What else do I need to know?
Peak season for visiting the Claude Monet Foundation is Spring and Summer, but it’s also open during the Fall if you want a unique experience. To beat the crowds, go early in the morning.
After visiting the gardens you can eat lunch in the cantine, have tea outside from the salon de thé and browse the gift shop for a souvenir from your visit. You can also walk around the town of Giverny and admire the French countryside.
Can’t get enough flowers? Take a look at this little video slideshow from my trip in 2015:
As a former French major it’s either cliché or fitting that my favorite painter (besides my grandmother) is Claude Monet. There’s something about those quick brushstrokes, pastel colors, and floral scenes that speaks to my heart. I’ve been to Monet’s gardens twice and I would recommend it to anyone visiting France.
Thank you so much for reading! Be sure to follow my blog on wordpress or via email to keep up with my adventures in France!
Save this article for when you plan your trip to France on Pinterest by clicking on the graphic below: