I have recently returned from a wonderful trip to Paris, France. Our daughter, Grace, is at University in Scotland and after her last exam, met me in Paris for a girls trip just the two of us. It was heavenly and lived up to every expectation!
While we certainly could have stayed in Paris and found endless things to do, we did make a day trip out to Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and gardens. The gardens served as inspiration for many of Monet’s paintings during the 43 years that he lived there. Monet created the gardens from an almost blank slate after he purchased the property and he stayed passionate about the garden until his death.
The gardens are separated into two distinct areas, The Clos Normand and a Japanese Inspired water garden. When we first arrived at the gardens, after some serious confusion as to where exactly to enter, we were in awe of the riot of color all around us. In front of his (pink!) home, there are alleys, walkways, and beds filled to the brim with flowers and fruit trees. The color combinations were simply gorgeous.
Due to large crowds and heavy use, the inner walkways and alleys are not open to walk on. Basically, the perimeter is open and visitors mostly walk in single file through the garden.
Monet’s home is also open to the public. I, of course, loved the pink and green color combination and how each room had windows that could be, and were, thrown open! I did not particularly love the tour of the home as it was very crowded and a one way type of situation where it felt a bit like being herded like cattle.
Ten years after purchasing his home, Monet bought a tract of land neighboring his home. To get there, he had to cross railroad tracks, now you walk in a tunnel underneath the ground to access the ponds. Cutting through this new property of his was a small brook, the Ru, a tributary of the Seine River. Much to his neighbors consternation, Monet had a small pond dug and things took off from there. Japanese gardens were his inspirations for the Lily Ponds. Many of his most famous works were painted using his own ponds as inspiration.
My favorite part of visiting Monet’s gardens was the pond area. It was so peaceful (even with so many people milling about) and beautiful. I loved how color and texture were used in the landscape with red trees, pops of pinks, yellow leaves and delicate willows.
And, of course, the famous bridge.
A few notes about our trip to Giverny.
- we had read lots about how this is a perfect morning trip out of Paris but we found this to be a bit misleading. We did take the train (easy!) but the return trains are few and far between. In addition, the shuttle that runs from the train station to the gardens is not in a hurry, nor on a timeframe, you need much longer than you think to get to the train station from the gardens. We literally made our train back to Paris on a wing and a prayer (and actual running onto the train from the shuttle). This wouldn’t have been an issue but we had made evening plans in Paris that we really wanted to attend.
- there is a small village surrounding his home with a restaurant that gets great reviews, a museum with more work from impressionist artists and some retail stores. We didn’t partake of these because we really had not allowed for all the time that the shuttle took (both to get on at the train station and to get back to the train station).
- buy your tickets beforehand, as the line was long to purchase day of. We had bought our tickets but it still took us too long to figure out where the entrance to the garden was!