Giverny in Normandy, France is home to a place that has been on my travel wish list for decades, the lovely garden and estate of Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, who lived for over 40 years in this small village along the banks of the River Seine. It was in Giverny that Monet found inspiration and produced some of his most impressive paintings, including the waterlilies series modelled on his garden. There are two main gardens, the Clos Normand in front of the house, filled with flowers and trees, and on the other side of the property via an underground tunnel, is the Japanese inspired waterlily garden featured in Monet’s paintings.
The Clos Normand was an explosion of tulips, daisies, poppies, and cherry blossoms in late April. The vast array of colours contrasted beautifully with the blush pink house and bright green shutters. I wonder if I could persuade my partner to paint our house in the same colours?
The water garden was built ten years after Monet arrived at Giverny, once he acquired the land adjacent to his property. The famous green Japanese bridge provides the perfect lookout over the nymphea pond, which mirrors a reflection of the weeping willow trees framing the garden. The bridge itself becomes draped in purple flowering wisteria in the spring and summer complementing the wild and unstructured beauty of the waterlily pond and gardens.
I have seen Monet’s work in Paris, New York, London & Melbourne, but it was even greater a pleasure to see the source of his inspiration. The scenery of the surrounding area is equally as beautiful with fields of golden canola in bloom, horses grazing in paddocks, trickling brooks, and nearby French villages dotted along the Seine. I imagine Giverny would have been a sleepy village if not for the mass of tourists coming to see the gardens.
It was wonderful to walk through the house and see his original furniture, especially the canary yellow kitchen. I then wandered around the gardens for hours, just enjoying the sounds and antics of the lily pond frogs and local birds. There were hundreds of people there which certainly tarnished the overall experience, but I could imagine how serene and tranquil Giverny would have been when Monet set up his easel to paint. Half a million visitors come to Giverny every year and because I visited the day after the Ascension Day public holiday, it was busier than usual. I could imagine the peak season from June – August would be absolute bedlam.
The gardens opened to the public in 1980 and you can visit between April and October. Every month yields an array of different flowers. When I visited in April the gardens were dominated by tulips, forget-me-nots, daffodils, pansies, cherry trees and crabapple blossoms.
May welcomes the Azaleas, Irises, peony roses, rhododendrons, poppies, geraniums, wisteria, wallflowers and daisies. June sees the beginning of the rose season, July brings in dahlias, sunflowers, hollyhocks, and the new waterlilies. In August, the hibiscus bloom and the waterlilies finish. September and October are the best months for autumn colours, which reflect in the water garden and create a beautiful palette of fiery colours.
With my limited schedule, I chose to book a half day tour of Giverny from central Paris that I just found on Viator. However, you can take the train from Paris to Vernon where a shuttle will bring you to the gardens. If you happen to have a car there is plenty of free car parking or you may wish to stay in the area, which is lovely in its own right. The gardens are extremely popular, but you can book Skip the Line tickets online that cost around €10.
Monet’s Garden in Giverny
Open daily from late March to late October
9.30am to 6pm
Would you like another adventure? I know you do.