Our insiders guide to a day trip to Giverny.
Check list before you go –
- Buy entrance tickets into Monet’s house and gardens online
- Pack bottle opener
- Pack plastic cups
So there are some things that you must do if you’re in this part of the world. If you come to Paris only once you will probably find yourself up the Eiffel Tower and walking down the Champs-Élysée. It’s not Friend in France’s style to suggest these things – only because we are all about the places you wouldn’t have found on your own, places that we know and love because we are locals. When, however, my mother in law (who loves gardens and is a fantastic gardener) asked whether we could do a day trip to Giverny and see Monet’s home and garden, how could I refuse? So it was time to follow the crowds for a change but we would still do it in a way that avoided the queues and the over priced cafés because that is Friend in France’s style.
Monet’s house is an hour train ride out of Paris. You hop on the SNCF main line train from Gare Saint-Lazare and get off at stop Vernon and this is a little town not far from Monet’s abode. Now that sounds easy enough but there aren’t many trains out to Vernon and they get packed with thousands of other people all going the same way as you. I would say reserve your seats well in advance before you go but unfortunately this is not possible. So, the only thing to do is get there early and be there for when the platform is announced in order to be amongst the first on the train and obtain some seats. This will ensure you have a far more comfortable journey. Being the early birds will pay off, trust me, and you can sit satisfied that you hung around at the train station a few more minutes than the rest of the crowed who are now standing up for the hour journey out there. Then look out the window an enjoy the country views.
You have a few options when you arrive. There is a coach available that can take you to Monet’s house but in my humble opinion if you do that you miss out on part of what’s so beautiful about this day and that’s the journey there. In our little group we are all keen walkers so we were happy to look at the maps outside the station and walk the very simple route to the house – it’s about 5km. If you are not keen on walking but would still like to avoid the coach you could opt for hiring a bike. There are two bike rental shops located opposite the train station.
It’s a very pretty walk through Vernon and along the river towards Giverny.
There are some wonderful house’s in Vernon to ogle over.
We broke up the journey with lunch. As we walked through the Vernon we bought sandwiches, cakes, wine (remember to bring a bottle opener and some plastic cups) and we had a picnic along the river. There are a few picnic tables on offer or you can bring a blanket if you want a more secluded spot.
It’s a relaxed walk surrounded by greenery.
There were some friendly faces to greet us as we came into Giverny.
Once we arrived we soon realised that Monet’s house wasn’t the only beautiful house in the village.
We walked through Giverny, which is a stunning village, and took the opportunity to browse in a few small galleries on the way.
When we arrived at the house there was a huge queue and we must admit that our hearts sank a little. We had booked our tickets online before hand and had printed them out. So when I walked into the area clearly marked exit (which was right next to the entrance and the huge queue) I asked the man at the door hopefully
‘Do we still need to queue as we have bought our tickets already?’
And he said the joyous words ‘Allez-y madame’.
Hurrah, we saved ourselves about an hour of queuing!
Once we got into the house and gardens you can definitely understand why Monet was so inspired. Blossoms cascaded from walls, the flower beds filled with a pleasing chaotic style were bursting at the seams. It was a gardeners dream and I learnt plenty of names of flowers as my mother-in-law skilfully named them as we went round. Although it was a little crowded there was still space to take in the magnificent surroundings.
We took a load off on one of the benches in the gardens soaking up the bursting blooms and glorious smells.
We decided to walk back to Vernon where the the station is. We had booked an early table on the terrace of Le Lagon which was a restaurant a friend had recommended. This allowed us to have a wonderful meal and opt out of the crowded trains.
All in all we had wonderful day.
If you want to avoid the train all together you can always book a car with us. We’d be happy to take you! Book a cab here