In mid-April I went to Giverny to visit Monet’s house and gardens. I had been wanting to go since I heard about it last spring.
My godparents were in town visiting, and they mentioned that they wanted to go out to Giverny. So I said that I would love to come along, and we decided to make the trip out there Monday morning to beat some of the crowds. The weather was perfect, it was a high of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (about 12 degrees Celsius) with sun and no clouds but also a slight breeze. It was warm in the sun and delightfully cool in the shade. Basically, perfect.
My godparents have French cousins that joined us for our visit to Giverny, the two of them are lovely. It was nice to see them for a second time and to spend some time all together just walking around taking in the beauty of nature.
I took about a billion pictures of flowers, so many things were blooming on our mid-April trip, and it was absolutely magnificent. The riotous color combinations were glorious. And it was so nice to be outside of Paris, in nature, and enjoying the fresh air. The gardens are gorgeous; I could have stayed there all day. Too bad there is no re-entry once you leave, because I would have liked to read all afternoon in the shade surrounded by so many flowers.
There were quite a few people and I am not a fan of crowds (if you feel similarly I would advise avoiding it during high tourist season in the summer) but there were not so many people at this time of year that I was put off, it ended up being fine. It is definitely worth a visit, the water lily pond alone is stunning. I understand, given all the people, why they don’t allow reentry, I think people would stay all day if they could.
I liked it even more than I thought I would. The town has managed to stay somewhat frozen in time. It’s very picturesque. Pure touristy, but in a charming way. And wandering through the gardens you just forget about everything else.
After our visit our group had lunch together. We ate lunch outside on a terrace at a crêperie at the end of the main road, part of a lovely little hotel with a view of hills. It was in the opposite direction of the entrance to the town via bus so there were far less people and crowds, it was very calm and just a really wonderful long lunch spent with some great company.
At the bottom of this post, after the pictures, I have included some tips I picked up during our day trip to Giverny in case they might help you as well.
I did not include pictures of my traveling companions because I don’t believe in blogging the faces of those in my life; that sort of thing I reserve for facebook where we can enjoy the photos together. Weirdly enough, I will take photos of random people, but only in admiration.
If you would like to view the pictures alone, in album format on Flickr, you can find them here. And of course all pictures are copyright to me and are not to be used without my permission.
- The house and gardens are open on Monday (but not the other related museums if you are wanting to go to those as well), and a weekday seems like it would be the best time to go.
- The train for Giverny leaves from Gare St Lazare.
- The train is one of the Grandes Lignes, so you have to buy your tickets from that ticket office, or from the yellow kiosks in the train station (there is an option for English and a couple other languages).
- The station you are traveling to is called Vernon-Giverny.
- You can buy Aller (/departure) and Retour (/return) at the same time. We left Paris around 10am and chose a return time of 16h50 (/4:50pm). That way we would have plenty of time for a long lunch.
- You need to pick between 1er classe (/1st class) and 2e classe (/2nd class) for your ticket. I recommend picking 2e classe, not only because it’s usually slightly cheaper, but because the only different I saw was that 1st class has sets of 4 seats w tables, and 2nd class has no tables (just seat back trays).
- The tickets were about 15euro per person each way, so a total of 30euro each. I don’t know how much this cost varies.
- If you are buying a ticket for multiple people at once and it only spits out one ticket per direction that is okay. Just check that it says “03adulte” (with the correct number for your party in place of the “03”) in the upper right hand corner. And you should have one ticket for the Aller, and one ticket for the Retour.
- The direction of the train we took was Rouen (Vernon-Giverny is a stop along the way), if you are unsure ask the person at the information desk (there are some located by the train platforms).
- The train platform is only announced maximum 20 minutes before departure, so keep checking the screens. The train is called an Intercities train.
- Be sure to validate your ticket at the small yellow machines located at the start of the platform.
- Be sure to check which class you are sitting it, and that it corresponds to your ticket. There are 1e and 2e posted everywhere to indicated 1st and 2nd respectively.
- There are scrolling text boxes in the train to tell you what the next stop is, and how long until you arrive. It scrolls in both French and English. There was only one stop between Paris and Giverny for the train we took. The train ride was 40/45 minutes long.
- Upon arriving at the Vernon-Giverny station we followed the mass of people exiting and flowed out the main entrance to the station. If you follow the footsteps painted on the floor they will lead you to the bus shuttle that takes you to Giverny.
- It’s very easy to find the bus, you exit the main entrance of the train station and straight ahead you will see the buses in a line at the curb to your right, and most of the people who got off the train going to line up there. So get in line with everyone else. You buy your ticket from the bus driver, and it is 4euro each way. You can buy roundtrip tickets on the spot if you like for 8euro (no savings).
- The bus is a 15 minute ride and it lets you off in a parking lot. Before you go anywhere, be sure to check the departure times for the bus from Giverny to the train station, it’s listed on a little poster right by where the bus lets out (it is not marked on the poster by the train station). When we went, the bus only took off once an hour, at 10 past the hour.
- Follow the people to the underground pedestrian walkway to cross the street. Upon exiting the walkway on the other side turn right, with the road on your righthand side and restaurants on your left. There is a sign for Monet’s house. At a little street there is a sign to turn left for Monet’s house for the individual entrance (that is if you haven’t purchased tickets beforehand). You then make your first right at the first road. Past some shops, and the entrance to Monet’s house is in the middle of the road on your right.
- Entrance to Monet’s house and gardens was 9,50euro (9euro and 50centimes) per person.
- Per person the total cost (train + bus + entrance fee), not including lunch, was about 50euro.
- If you would like to eat lunch at the same place we did, which is quieter than the other options in town, turn right out of Monet’s house, away from the way you entered the town, and go to the hotel on the left, almost at the end of the street. They have an outdoor terrace, you enter through the main hotel entrance. It is a very good crêperie with nice food.