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Gardens Worth Visiting: Giverny

May 1, 2010

Monet's garden at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Seven years ago, I left my snowbound Maine garden in mid-April to spend two weeks experiencing spring in Paris. April in Paris was truly a joy. The days were mild and sunny, and tulips and flowering chestnuts were blooming everywhere. I spent hours walking around the city; and the rest of my time was mostly divided between visiting museums and visiting gardens.

One mild, sunny day, I took a morning train to Vernon, and from there boarded a local bus to visit the garden of the great impressionist artist Claude Monet at Giverny. Giverny in April was a vision of spring,

with vibrant plantings of violas and spring bulbs, Spring flowers at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Spring flowering tree at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) the delicate pastels of fruit trees in bloom,
and, of course, Monet’s water lily pond. Water lily pond at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

This was not my first visit to Giverny; I had been there several years earlier, in June. Giverny in June was, in some ways, a more difficult place to visit. The garden was crowded, and I had to wait in line more than an hour just to get in. At the same time, though, Giverny in June was more iconic.

June border at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Borders were overflowing with summer flowers.
The red poppies that are prominent in many of Monet’s paintings were in bloom. Red poppy at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Climbing roses at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Masses of roses hung from arbors overhead.
And there, in the pond, were water lilies like the models for Monet’s famous canvases.

Water lilies at Giverny (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Visiting Giverny has the flavor more of visiting a museum than of visiting a private garden. The long lines for gaining entry, the crowds, the large gift shop, and the tunnel that connects the two gardens, the Clos Normand and the Water Garden, all provide constant reminders that one is in a public place. If you are not looking for a private garden experience, however, Giverny is well worth visiting. The gardens are beautiful and they provide deeper understanding of the inspiration for Monet’s paintings. Monet’s house is also open to the public and includes the painter’s wonderful collection of Japanese prints.

Giverny is open from April through November and is likely to be less crowded in spring and fall. It is an easy day trip from Paris and readily accessible by public transport. Trains to Vernon depart from Paris’s Saint-Lazare Station several times a day, and a local shuttle bus to Giverny meets arriving trains. If you would like to capture a bit more of Monet’s experience of Giverny, you can also walk or bicycle from Vernon to Giverny along a 5 km pathway.  I will probably take the pathway the next time I visit. And I will visit again; I can’t imagine spending time in Paris without setting aside a day for Giverny.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2010 9:17 pm

    Always been a dream of mine to visit Giverny and your glimpse into this magnificent garden has really inspired me to try and get there soon.

  2. May 1, 2010 10:48 pm

    You have a great eye for capturing the essence of iconic gardens. Thank you for the virtual tour.

  3. May 2, 2010 4:46 am

    Apart from whizzing through Paris on trains I have only visited the city once and that was in the spring as a 15 year old schoolgirl. I remember it vividly Jean – such a beautiful city. Will have to go back one of these days and visit Giverney too,

  4. May 2, 2010 9:40 am

    I have never been to Paris. I would love to go one day! Giverney looks beautiful and I love all your photos. I especially love the water lilies…very pretty!

  5. noel permalink
    May 2, 2010 1:17 pm

    aloha jean,

    love the post, of the many times i’ve been to paris,i’ve never had the opportunity to go to giverny and i love impressionism and gardening…oh well its on my bucket list…would love to see it in spring and summer, thanks for sharing the pics meanwhile!

  6. May 2, 2010 7:14 pm

    I remember visiting this garden, long ago. Beautiful!

  7. May 2, 2010 7:36 pm

    I have seen photos of Giverny and always thought it would be my dream garden. It is sad that the crowds detract from the garden. Still, I want to visit someday, when it’s not so packed with tourists.

  8. May 2, 2010 7:37 pm

    Paris is a wonderful city. I look forward to visiting it again, and this time I absolutely will spend more time visiting gardens. Giverny is on my list of must sees.

    Thanks for the nudge.

  9. May 3, 2010 8:54 am

    Oh, how lucky you are! Isn’t Giverny every gardener’s dream? Love that waterlily photo.

  10. May 3, 2010 3:22 pm

    I love Paris in the springtime. I really do, and I’m not just saying that because it’s a catchy song. I went in May of 2003 – so lovely. Thanks for sharing your memories. Now if we could just take a picture of how good that french wine tastes…

  11. May 3, 2010 4:08 pm

    I’ve never been to Giverny, thank you for such a lovely tour. The water lily pond looks so peaceful and serene. I love to travel outside of peak holiday periods, as I’m not much of one for crowds either. Spring and fall often seem more interesting to me in a garden.

  12. May 3, 2010 5:33 pm

    Wonderful post Jean, thanks so much for the tour.

  13. May 3, 2010 10:44 pm

    It’s on my list, but my list of places to visit is soooo long at this point. I can see the Monet paintings as I look at the garden, though, particularly in the shot with the willow hanging down before the lily pond.

  14. May 4, 2010 3:07 am

    Monet is one of my favorite artists and though I’ve never been to this garden in person, I’ve always found books about it inspirational. Your photos are wonderful Jean, especially the water lilies. You’ve allowed me to enjoy the garden without the crowds. Thank you.

  15. May 4, 2010 6:49 am

    What a beautiful garden. I enjoyed the visit.

  16. June 7, 2010 8:56 pm

    Hi Jean, I am a tour operator, I specialize in garden tours and have been to Monet’s garden a few times now with groups. This garden rates along with the Taj Mahal. Why? Because no matter how many photos you see, it will never be the same and being in the garden yourself.

    There are colours here that a camera simply cannot duplicate… :) I look forward to 2011 when we will be doing this tour again….Paris/London and of course Chelsea!

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