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Giverny

Art, Europe, France, Hotel/Accommodation, Paris, Travel

The Beautiful French Countryside in Giverny

July 10, 2015

 

Giverny isn’t just the home of Monet, it is a beautiful town to explore. Visiting Monet’s House and Gardens isn’t the only thing to do. The village of Giverny is very pretty. Someone asked me after my last post if Giverny was run down, as he had been told it wasn’t worth visiting. I disagree. Yes, the town has some run down houses and over grown wild areas, but I wouldn’t say the whole village was like this. It actually added to the charm of the place. It is exactly what I expected a small French country village to look like.

Since I took the train to Giverny, I walked from the bed and breakfast I was staying at to all the places I went. The day I arrived, I walked to have dinner. I discovered that all of Giverny is one big garden. Almost every house I passed had a beautiful garden or had lovely plants outside. Many of the homes have historic plaques out front relating to what artist was living there during Monet’s time. The walk was not only beautiful, but informative.

There are things to do other than Monet’s house as well. You could easily spend the day reading all the historic plaques. I only read some of them. The Church Sainte Radegonde is worth a visit. The church is Roman and the original part of the church was built in the 11th century! It was expanded between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Claude Monet is buried in the graveyard along with some of his family.

There is also the Impressionist Museum. The museum is just down the street from Monet’s house. The museum is dedicated to the history of impressionism. It is run in part by the Musee d’Orsay. Keep it mind that both it and Monet’s house are not open in the winter months. It also has a garden and wonderful restaurant.

Where to stay? There are many small bed and breakfasts in Giverny. However, my recommendation would be to stay at Les Jardins de Helene. This bed and breakfast is run by the wonderful Sandrine. Sandrine moved from Paris to Giverny with the dream of running a bed and breakfast. She is truly passionate about making people feel welcome and at home. The house is located on the edge of town about a kilometer and a half from Monet’s House. While it is a distance from town, it was great because I might not have explored the town otherwise. Les Jardins de Helene has four rooms each with access to a private bathroom. There is a wonderful garden in the back you are welcome to use with a coy pond. Sandrine serves a simple, but great breakfast. When I was there it included homemade stewed fruit and locally baked bread. Sandrine was very responsive to all my emails and even got me a ticket for Monet’s house so I didn’t have to wait in line. I only wished I had booked more nights in Giverny so I could of enjoyed the town and Les Jardins de Helene for longer.

Art, France, Paris, Travel

Monet’s Gardens

July 6, 2015

The highlight of my trip to France was visiting Monet’s house in Giverny. Claude Monet is my favorite artist. I have loved his work since I was in high school. In particular the Water Lilies series. So when I decide I was going to Paris, I knew I was going to take a trip to his house in Giverny where he painted the Water Lilies.  Giverny is a short train ride from Paris, so you can make it a day trip. My recommendation would to be to stay at least one night so you can be at the gate to Monet’s house at 9:30AM when they open.

I highly recommend buying your ticket in advance to avoid the lines at the main gate. If you purchase your ticket in advance, you can go down a narrow alley way and enter with the group tours and not through the main gate. This is also a more pleasant visual experience than the main entrance. The main entrance leads you through the gift shop, which used to be Monet’s studio. Then you enter the garden down some steps. However, you enter through the back part of the garden and get a full view of the garden upon entering. The only downside is that you might be entering with large tour groups. I still felt it was worth it. I walked around the garden admiring the variety of flowers and all the bees! If you are afraid of bees, the summer time might not be the best time to visit. They were everywhere. They were not bothering anyone and I have never seen such a variety of bees! The bees seemed very happy to be there. To get to the water-lily pond, you have to take an underground tunnel that traverses the road. As far as I could tell there was no elevator so bear that in mind if you have walking issues. You might have to ask the staff how to get over there. Both the garden and the water-lily pond are stunning! You can see Monet’s paintings in reality in front of you. I was a surreal feeling. The caretakers seem to have left everything as he had planned. It is still hard for me to imagine Monet creating all this for himself to paint. It was such an undertaking. There was an army of people working in the garden and the water-lily pond, so I imagine Monet had is work cut out for himself.  Although, I am sure he had help as he did have to paint!

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You can visit the house. While I did go through, the house is small and it was hard to see anything with so many people inside. You couldn’t really stop to look at anything. I would say avoid it unless you really have to see where Monet slept. Although you do get to see his original studio in the house.

To get to Giverny from Paris, take the train from the Gare de Saint-Lazare to Vernon. You can then either take the shuttle bus to Giverny, which will drop you near Monet’s house or you can take a taxi. Since I was staying the night and had luggage, I took at taxi. As I said before, I recommend staying the night so you can relax. Giverny is a lovely town with lots of French country charm and gardens. I am planning on going back during a different season to beat the crowds and relax a little. My next post will give you some recommendations of a place to stay and what else to see in Giverny.

Want to learn more about Monet? Visit Artsy’s page about Claude Monet.

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