If you are in Paris and you are looking for a great day trip, let me suggest a visit to Monet’s garden at Giverny. About 75 Km Northwest of Paris is the town of Vernon. Just outside of Vernon is Monet’s garden at Giverny. If you have a car you can drive to Vernon from Paris or you can take the train like we did. The Vernon station is situated on the main line Paris / Rouen / Le Havre. It starts from the Saint-Lazare Paris station. It should take around 45 minutes to get to Vernon from Paris. Once you get to Vernon there are taxies and shuttle buses to take you to Giverny. We took the shuttle bus because it was nearly as convenient as a taxi and cheaper. If you are more adventurous or on a really tight budget you can walk from Vernon station to Giverny.
My first impression when we got dropped off by the shuttle bus was, this is it? Where’s the pond? Where’s that bridge? We were standing in a parking lot and it was hot and dusty. I had this image in my head that the first thing I’d see would be weeping willows and lily pads. I quickly learned that there are two parts to Monet’s garden and the more famous Japanese garden with the ponds and bridges was across the street.
We followed the signs from the shuttle bus stop and were led to Monet’s house and flower garden. For such a famous place I was expecting something bigger. It was not anything like the scale of Versailles or Keukenhof. The property was beautiful but had a much more intimate feel than the larger formal gardens of Europe.
The house was light and airy with an yellow kitchen and painting studio on the lower level. Upstairs the bedrooms overlooked the flower gardens with windows opened wide for a feeling of being outside. You can see why Monet loved this property and how it inspired his painting.
As I mentioned earlier there are two parts to Monet’s garden. By the house there is a flower garden called Clos Normand. Monet did not like his gardens to be highly structured or defined by boundaries. He planted flowers according to their color, often mixing common flowers with exotic varieties. Flowers of different heights and mass plantings were used to create volume in the garden. Guests are allowed on paths around the perimeter and a central walkway covered by iron arches. For a private residence this is a impressive garden.
The other part of Monet’s garden is the Japanese water garden. This is the garden I was thinking of when we decided to go to Giverny. It is where the bridge over the pond that we see in paintings is. From the flower garden by the house we followed the path to a tunnel that led us across the road to the pond gardens.
Coming out of the tunnel was like entering a different world. This garden has lots of trees and shade. The paths around the pond lead you through marshy woodland areas as well as the Pond that Monet created. The highlight of the visit for us was the opportunity to take photos on the famous bridge.
After touring the grounds and gardens we found our way back to the shuttle bus stop to catch a ride to the train station in Vernon, and took the late afternoon train into Paris. It was a pleasant ride through the Seine River valley.