Hi Frugalistas! Did you read my earlier post about my Giverny day trip from Paris in fall (autumn)? I’d always put off travelling from Paris to Giverny because I was never in Paris at the “right” time of the year to see the garden at its best. But what I discovered was that any time of the year is the right time to take a Giverny day trip. Making a day trip to Giverny from Paris is an easy trip to make. It’s a fun trip to make. And you can make a day trip to Giverny from Paris yourself – yes, there are tours to Giverny from Paris, but really, it’s a simple trip you can make independently. Here’s how to tackle making a day trip to Giverny.
Visiting Giverny from Paris
A trip from Paris to Giverny is easy. Giverny is located approximately 75km (or 45 miles) from central Paris. Frequent trains depart from Gare St Lazare to Vernon SNCF which is just a few kilometres from Giverny.
In Vernon all roads lead to Giverny, so it’s just a matter of following the footsteps and excellent signage out of the station to the waiting navettes (buses) that will drop you at Giverny. Buy your return ticket from the driver when you hop on the navette (EUR8 per person round trip, cash only). Don’t forget to pick up the shuttle bus timetable while you are on the bus, so you can check on the schedule for your return trip.
The bus will arrive in Giverny and drop you off in the car park about 7minutes walk from the Monet garden. The garden’s entrance is not visible from the car park but is well sign posted.
How to plan your visit to Giverny
Like most places, when you visit Giverny from Paris I suggest arriving as early as possible to avoid the crowds. There is a train that will have you in Vernon at 9.07am, arriving at Giverny at 9.45am.
As you enter, resist the temptation to fall into the rabbit hole of the huge gift shop and make your way into the main garden area.
My plan for a Giverny tour is to visit the house first. In summer queues for the house can be lengthy. Being a 19th century house, stairways are narrow and the decoration is best described maximalist rather than minimalist. This means that to enjoy your tour of the house it’s best to try and go early before the big queues arrive.
Make sure you go both up and downstairs. Take time to enjoy Monet’s art and to study the little details within the house.
Touring the garden at Monet’s house in Giverny
The garden is actually divided in two by a busy road. The main garden itself is adjacent to the house, then the lilypond garden is across the road, accessed by an underpass.
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Leaving the house, turn left (yes, back towards the exit and gift shop). If you are short of time you can do a circumnavigation of the outer edge of the garden, but I suggest walking up and down the little alleyways to take in detail of the gardens.
You will also see some very different perspectives and views of the house and the rest of the garden from every where you look. Remember Monet was an artist – so perspective and unexpected treasures are everywhere you look.
As you walk around the garden look at the way they are designed to play with colour and light. If you know Monet’s paintings, you will understand exactly how Monet loved to play with light and colour in his work – and so in his garden.
If you have followed your way in a clockwise direction after leaving the house (ie you turned left as I suggested), you will find the underpass to the lilypond at the top right hand corner of the garden. Again, it is well sign posted.
You can walk around the lilypond, and there are many opportunities for some stunning views. If you are a keen photographer try playing with light and perspective just as Monet did with his most famous works.
There’s just one way back to the main house and garden from the lilypond garden, so it’s easy to find your way.
Yes, if you have finished looking at the gardens and the house, NOW you can go to the gift shop on your way out.
There is still plenty to see in the little village of Giverny. Just along the street from the garden’s exit are art galleries, shops and an entire village. Unless you are on a tight schedule to catch your shuttle back to Vernon do take the time to browse around the village. Or consider a bike tour before you return from Giverny to Paris.
Monet’s house and garden at Giverny make a delightful day trip from Paris. Regardless of how long you are staying in Paris, I do recommend making the time to explore this beautiful little slice of France.