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The forecast promised thunderstorms. It was the middle of June, and clouds were on the horizon. Ironically, we had postponed our day trip to Monet’s garden in Giverny because it was set to rain on our original date. Clouds loomed, and drops fell as the little train wound through the tiny roads of Normandy, past endless fields scattered with cows. Everything was green. It was really la campange.
Giverny itself is a tiny village, but easily accessed by Vernon, a small town in which you arrive by train from Paris, making it a perfect day trip. It is roughly an hour and a half ride, and then another twenty minutes to Giverny by the navette, which they call the petit train de Givernon…I cringed a little, too. The train ride to Vernon is perfect for a small cat nap — I took one, dozing, and jolting awake every few minutes in fear I had somehow leaned onto my neighbour’s shoulder.
As it’s summer, everything is blooming, and therefore everyone flocks to see the scenes that so inspired Monet. This renders the gardens an interesting juxtaposition of frenetic tranquility, as you smoosh, nearly back-to-back and shoulder-to-shoulder, with fellow visitors, as you try to have a friend snap your photo on one of the Japanese bridges, or admire the extensive, Mauviel-esque, copper pot collection in the kitchen. I recommend going in the middle of the week, in the morning, for the best experience. But despite the chaos, everything was lovely. Fluffy flowers, lush landscapes…never-ending blooms. I observed my first peony in the “wild” and it was a ravishing experience.
After meandering through and picking up a postcard in the (rather large) gift shop, we strolled through the town, perusing antiques, sandwiches in hand. The village is known as the village of flowers (I don’t quite recall the exact phrasing), and it merits the title. Overflowing bushes bloom in abundance, making for a picturesque walk down the lanes.
We finished our visit with a stroll through Vernon and a sit on the Seine before hopping on our train. If you love impressionism, bright colour, and charming villages, this is an excellent day or half day trip.
Visiting Monet’s Garden
Tickets and Hours
Hours: 9h30 – 18h until 1 November
Buying your ticket to the museum in advance is highly preferable. You otherwise risk a long line. My friend waited two hours. I was more fortunate and had mine within half an hour.
Tickets are 13€ and you have access to the beautiful home (with its charmingly pink façade and green shutters) and the extensive gardens and lily pond. You may recognize it from more than a few paintings!
How to Get to Monet’s Garden
You can get tickets from Paris to Vernon on SNCF. You can also download the application Oui.SNCF for easy access! You will take a regional train that makes stops along the way. Vernon is not the train’s end destination, so you’ll have to pay attention for your stop!
From the train station, there is a little “navette” — it means something akin to a shuttle, and in true French fashion, it’s a cute little train that takes you from Vernon to Giverny. It’s called “Le Petit Train de Givernon” (alluding to the two villages it connects). Don’t worry about locating it; just follow the other tourists.
There is a small fee of 8€ round trip to take you to and from Giverny. It’s really your only option unless you want to cycle; it’s too far to walk.
After you’re done exploring Monet’s home, I highly recommend walking around Giverny. It’s quaint, walkable, and has restaurants and shops to dip into on a fair-weather day for a real taste of the countryside.
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