I remember vividly the first time I saw a Monet painting. I was 16 years old and it was my first trip to Paris. My mom’s cousin, who lives there, was showing me all around the city she calls home. One rainy afternoon we went to the Musée d’Orsay and headed straight to see Monet’s water lilies. I couldn’t believe how big the paintings in this series were – each one is 6 feet tall and 14 feet wide! I had never seen anything like it. It was fascinating to be face to face with something so beautiful, iconic and much grander than I could have imagined. I was moved to say the least, and I’ve been a huge fan of Monet ever since, always seeking out his work in my travels.
Back in June, my husband and I booked a long weekend in Paris. I always get excited to return to the Musée d’Orsay and see Monet’s water lilies, but this trip I decided I would take it one step further and finally make time to visit Monet’s house and gardens, where the water lilies were painted. So I went ahead alone a couple of days early and took a trip out to Giverny, a small town just outside of Paris where Monet lived.
Getting to Giverny
It’s an easy journey by train to Giverny from Paris, and takes just under an hour. From the Garde Saint-Lazare train station in Paris, you can buy a ticket to Vernon, which is the closest stop to Giverny. I like to use the Trainline app to buy my train tickets in Europe, but the trains from Paris to Vernon go so often you could even buy one at the train station the day of (however I do recommend purchasing ahead of time). Once you get off the train in Vernon, you will see signs for a small tourist train to Giverny. It may seem like a bit of a tourist trap, but I enjoyed taking this small train into Giverny because they also offer a mini tour of the area in both French and English. There is also the option to take a taxi, with a taxi stand right outside the train station. Both options will take you to Giverny in about 15-20 minutes.
Touring the House & Gardens
I was lucky enough to visit just as Paris re-opened to tourists, which meant there were very few people when I was there. I have heard from friends that this place can become absolutely packed with tourists, so I do recommend buying tickets ahead of time here and going first thing in the morning when it opens. I chose the earliest time slot and noticed much more people later in the day as I was leaving.
The ticket will grant you entry to both the house and gardens, and I recommend planning to have at least 2 hours here to really take your time to explore and soak it all in. I decided to start my tour with the house, making my way slowly through the surrounding gardens before I went inside. The house has been preserved exactly as it was when Monet lived there, and gave me so much interior design envy! Each room is totally unique and beautiful. My favourite room was the carriage house, which Monet used as his studio and where his paintings still cover the walls. Inside the house is more artwork by Monet and other famous artists that he collected. I loved how each room had a different theme, and my favourite was the blue kitchen (almost makes me want to repaint mine blue!). The second floor of the house provided beautiful views of the gardens as well.
After touring the house I made my way down to the water lily pond, which is surrounded by even more gardens. I took plenty of time to slowly make my way through the gardens and around the famous pond a couple of times, stopping to admire every detail and imagine Monet sitting there, day after day, studying and painting those water lilies.
I finished my tour in the early afternoon and had a lovely lunch on the terrace at one of the cafe’s outside the exit. From there I took a taxi back to the station to catch a train back to Paris.
Visiting Monet’s house and gardens was an incredible experience I will never forget. The house and gardens were stunningly beautiful, and being able to walk in Monet’s footsteps, see where he lived and what inspired his art was inspiring to me as well. My words can’t do it justice, but I hope my photos can help to give you a better idea of the beauty in which Monet immersed himself and shared with the world through his paintings.