Hi Frugalistas! For reasons outside my control I often visit Paris in either spring or autumn (fall). It’s precisely for this reason that I had never made the trip to Monet’s garden in Giverny. For some reason I assumed that it was not the right time to visit. That somehow it was only a place for summer. But on my most recent visit to Paris I decided it was time. I would visit Giverny. In October. I would find out for myself if it is worth visiting Giverny in fall (autumn) and when was the best time of year to visit Giverny. Read on to see what I found…………..
Note: Giverny is now closed until late March 2020
Arriving at Giverny
I’ll be writing about how to do a trip to Giverny in a separate post, but of course I went first thing in the morning to beat any crowds.
Arriving at the entrance there was a queue of maybe 10 people or so waiting to get in. I was in the garden in literally minutes.
So far so good.
But then I spotted them. My travel nemesis – the cruise ship tour group. En masse. Clustered around their guide.
I went further into the garden towards the house. Fortunately most of the tour group headed straight for the shop.
First things first: Monet’s house in Giverny
I’d heard stories from friends of queues out the door to tour the house. Not in October. I wandered straight in and spent ages enjoying the colours and Monet’s art work. His newly restored studio was a joy that I was able to spend ages in.
Nineteenth century stairs in French buildings are notoriously narrow. And the stairs at Giverny were no exception. But visiting Giverny in October, I was able to run up and down those stairs without anyone else getting in my way, or needing to wait for me.
The kitchen was huge, and like all the best parties, everyone seemed to gather there. But it was still OK. Yes, there were plenty of people in there, but there was not so many that you couldn’t move around. There were not so many you couldn’t enjoy its features. People seemed to be conscious of others around them, and were able to move to make room. To let others see. Like all the best parties in the kitchen, a good time was being had by all.
Visiting the Giverny gardens
While the Monet’s house in Giverny is special, and is lovely, it is the garden that is the star of the show. The garden that Monet painted.
If you know Monet’s works, you know Monet’s garden, and when you visit Giverny that is what you want to see…..
By the time I was finished visiting the house and went into the garden proper the crowds had disappeared. All finding their own special part of Monet’s garden.
The first thing I noticed in the garden was colour. Lots of colour. The colour of flowers. The colours of autumn foliage.
Yes, the famous archway of flowers was a little bare. But there was still so much to enjoy. I found a little robin – the first one I’d ever seen in France, and as an Australian, a very special treat. The chickens were running riot.
And of course, the flowers were running riot too…….
The last of the roses. Not perfect, but perfect for an autumn rose – just as it should be at this time of the year. Beds and beds of geraniums in front of the house. As bright and cheery as they would be in June or July.
And then of course the autumn flowers. Cosmos in almost every colour. And dahlias. Not a flower I normally like. But in Giverny, in October, on a grey day, they looked perfect……
The real star of the show in the garden at Giverny is undoubtably the lily pond, with its Japanese bridge. Monet painted it over and over. At different times of the year, in different lights. Did he ever paint it in autumn though? Would it be disappointing so late in the season?
Arriving at the pond I was stunned. It was beautiful. Just like Monet painted it. The greyness of the day muted the colours like a Monet painting. The last of the water lilies were still out. Just out. But still there. There was autumn foliage on the trees.
And there was hardly anybody else there……..
I walked around the pond. I stood on Japanese bridge – the only person on it. The trees reflected beautifully onto the still pond.
It was just as I imagined it. Only better.
Is Giverny worth visiting in fall?
Of course it is worth visiting Giverny in fall. In fact I suspect it is better than visiting in high summer with its heat and crowds. It may be just the best time to visit Giverny in fact.
It was quite chilly the day I visited, so warm clothes are recommended. But the flowers were stunning, the colours were extraordinary, and the lack of crowds made it a pleasure to wander around.
I was able to enjoy my visit without queuing. Without all the iconic views ruined by tourist hordes. Despite not owning a DSLR camera I’m thrilled with my photos of Giverny. Monet must have seen it like this so many times – With its muted light and hardly anyone else there, I’d like to think it was just as Claude himself experienced. And to me that is a truly luxurious experience……..
I can’t wait to return to Paris in spring so I can head out to Giverny and see what Monet has in stall for me. I’m sure it will be a completely different garden, but no less beautiful. And I may just be able to confidently answer the question: “when is the best time to visit Monet’s garden?”
Have you been to Giverny? When did you go and what did you think?
Plan your trip to Paris & Giverny