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If you are an art lover visiting Paris, why not visit Giverny, Monet’s garden that inspired his incredible body of work. Just 70 kilometers north of Paris, it’s the perfect way to get your culture fix and enjoy the fresh Normandy air at the same time.
In this guest post, art lover Jeanette Gory explains the importance of Giverny to the work of Impressionist master Claude Monet. She also shares her top tips for visiting Monet’s garden and former home.
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About Claude Monet
Oscar-Claude Monet is the most famous of all the impressionist painters of the 19th century.
His paintings are hung in the most respected art museums all over the world.
Calendars, posters and endless other souvenirs are printed with his iconic paintings.
Monet over a decade later is a household name. But it wasn’t always that way for Monet.
The significance of Normandy for Monet
Although born in Paris, his family moved to Le Havre, a coastal city in Normandy when he was five years old.
Monet loved the ocean and rugged coastline and as a child would often ran away from school to go for walks along the cliffs and beaches.
In his later years as an artist, he would return to these seascapes in Normandy and capture and immortalize them on his canvases. See painting of Etretat above.
The artworld scorns Monet’s paintings for decades
Up until the age of 40, Monet could barely support his family with his beautiful bright colored paintings. Like the other impressionists, their avant-garde style of painting was misunderstood and harshly criticized by the art critics.
Although he believed in his new approach to painting and lead the impressionism movement, he suffered with bouts of depression and self-doubt.
According to some reports, it is said that he destroyed a substantial number of paintings, estimated as high as 500 works. Monet would either burn, cut or discarded his unwanted artwork. That garbage would be worth millions today!
Monet returns to NormandyIn 1880, Monet started to gain some recognition for his paintings. He saved enough money to buy a house with a large plot of land in the small, sleepy town of Giverny.
Monet moved into this house together with his second wife and eight children in 1883.
Giverny is only 75 kilometers north-west of Paris. The location was far enough from Paris to provide Monet with a quiet life but close enough to allow easy access to the active art scene. He returned many times to Paris to exhibit and meet with his fellow impressionists.
“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature”
– Claude Monet
Monet’s home in Giverny also provided respite for many of his fellow painters, needing time out from the crazy life in Montmartre. Monet remained in the same house in Giverny for 43 years and died there in 1926.
Many of his most famous paintings were painted in Giverny.
The History of Giverny
Monet initially rented the house in Giverny but immediately began designing the front garden, called “Clos Normand.” In 1890 his finances improved, and he was able to complete his payments for the property.
“Water Lilies’ are an extension of my life. Without the water the lilies cannot live, as I am without art.”
– Claude Monet
In 1893, Monet further expanded the Giverny property, by purchasing an adjacent piece of land at the back. Here he created a water garden, the “Jardin d’Eau,” containing the magnificent, iconic water-lily pond and Japanese bridge.
Monet – not just a painter but an avid gardener!
One of Monet’s greatest pleasures was his garden. Apart from painting, he spent endless hours designing and working in his garden. He studied and understood plant life and kept up with the latest horticultural developments.
“I work at my garden all the time and with love. What I need most are flowers. Always. My heart is forever in Giverny, perhaps I owe it to the flowers that I became a painter.”
– Claude Monet
Monet created a back garden, containing a large pond full of water lilies and a green Japanese-like arched bridge crossing over it.
The magnificent garden that he designed for himself and his family, became the number one source of inspiration for his paintings in his later years.
After his death, his only surviving child, Michel, was heir to the Monet family property in Giverny.
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”
– Claude Monet
Visit Monet’s Garden in Giverny
Today, Monet’s garden and house are open to the public and form part of the Claude Monet Foundation.
When in Paris, I highly recommend doing a day trip to Giverny to see it for yourself. It is a small, picturesque town and easily accessible from Gare Saint Lazare in central Paris.
Giverny is also a must visit stop when on a road trip in in Normandy.
The house is very pretty and full of French historical charm. In one of the rooms you will even see some of Monet’s less famous artworks. However, the most amazing attraction that draws hundreds of tourists daily, are the front and back gardens.
Monet’s beautiful gardens are gorgeous, and you will instantly recognize the main features of the garden from his iconic paintings. You will feel like you are stepping into a Monet painting while strolling around the gardens.
Walking through the gardens, you will see the iconic Japanese bridge, Monet’s water pond and the floating water lilies. You will see the weeping willows and gorgeous flowers everywhere. These are all the subjects of so many of his famous masterpieces.
The gardens will overload your senses! Flowers bursting with vivid bright colors on every turn, sweet fragrances wafting in the breeze from the lush fauna and flora that surround you. The gorgeous water lilies in the pond and the reflection of the Japanese bridge are feasts for the eyes.
Everything in the garden is so magical and beautiful. No wonder Monet never tired of painting his enchanting garden! These gardens are magical in every season!
Other things to do in Giverny and Vernon
Finished with Monet’s House & Gardens? Don’t leave Giverny yet… there is more to see.
After visiting the house, spend some time in the Museum of Impressionism right next to the house. Here you will learn about the origins of impressionism and its influence on the art world.
It is a small and lovely museum which I highly recommend. Afterwards, walk around the museum gardens, which are just as beautiful as Monet’s gardens.
If you have the time, go for a stroll through the quaint and pretty village of Giverny. The small streets are dotted with beautiful art galleries and lovely little cafes.
Near the Giverny church is the local cemetery, where you can find Monet’s grave.
Back in Vernon, stop to admire the old mill house hovering over the river Seine. You can visit the local tourist office for more information.
How to get to Monet’s House & Garden in Giverny
The quickest way to get to Giverny from Paris using public transport is by train:
- Take the metro to Paris Saint-Lazare station
- Take the train from Paris Saint Lazare station to Vernon, a small and pleasant town, only 45 minutes on the fast train [Cost – from €9]
- In Vernon, there is a shuttle service in front of the station to go to Monet’s house in Giverny.
Tips for visiting Monet’s garden
- Allow at least one hour to visit the gardens and the house
- Arrive early to avoid the crowds. When we arrived at 11am the crowds were manageable but by the time we left
the garden (around 12.30pm), the line at the entrance was long. We were visiting off-season!
“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.”
– Claude Monet
- If taking a photo of the bridge without the crowds is a high priority for you, I suggest arriving as soon as the doors open and heading straight to the water garden.
- Buy your ticket online before you go. Tickets purchased online can be used any day and it means you don’t have to queue up at the entrance to purchase your ticket. To buy tickets for your visit – click here
The Claude Monet Foundation
84 rue Claude Monet
Open from March 22 to November 1st 2019 – 09:30 to 18:00. Last admission : 17:30
Thank you Jeannette for sharing beautiful Giverny with our readers. If you are planning a trip to France, you might like to read our Normandy itinerary that includes a stop at Etretat to view the cliffs that Monet painted so beautifully.
Visiting Paris? How wonderful? We think a trip to Paris is always a good idea – you should even bring the kids! When you get hungry, our popular food guide will help you plan your gastronomic adventures in the City of Lights.
Lastly, along with Giverny, Versailles is one of the most popular day trips from Paris. To read our best advice for making the most of your visit click here.
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