One of the highlights of our recent travels in Europe was a day-trip to ‘Monet’s Garden’, in the small village of Giverny, west of Paris. Claude Monet and his family rented the property from 1883-90, then purchased it and set about establishing a superb garden, including the famous lily pond. Monet lived there until his death in 1926.
We took a train from Gare St Lazare to the town of Vernon, from where a free shuttle bus takes visitors to and from the main carpark in Giverny. From there it was a 10-minute walk along one of the village’s two main streets to the property’s entrance.
These two plans of the property show, firstly, the layout from the top road, down a gentle slope and then across the lower road to the pond area. The second one gives the orientation from behind the pond.
The next group of photos shows you something of the structure and planting strategy of the main garden, running from the front of Monet’s home down to the lower road.
We had arrived in Giverny by 10am, so we were not crowded as we explored the property. From the main garden, we went into the house, a large two-storey dwelling. Many of the furnishings, paintings and decorations are exact replicas of originals, as captured in photographs taken while Monet lived there. An example of this is the family dining room, including the vases and urns on the mantelpiece above the fireplace.
By the time we left to look more closely at the flowers in the main garden, the house had become congested and there was a queue of visitors waiting to be allowed to enter.
Here is a selection of Maggie’s photos of some of the hundreds of flowering plants in the garden. What a voluptuous feast for the eyes!
From the bottom of the garden, we walked through a walkway under the lower road and into the area of lily pond, which is fed by a natural stream that ultimately feeds into the River Seine. As it was early, few of the lily flowers had opened; however, it was still possible to imagine the scene as it was when Monet painted his famous series of works. (We had seen a wonderful selection of the paintings, including the larger ones, at L’Orangerie when we visited Paris in 2011. They are now housed at the Musee d’Orsay.)
From the lily pond, we made our way back through the garden to the gift and souvenir shop. There was a vast array of every imaginable type of item, most of them of excellent quality; there were at least 100 visitors in the shop and you could hear the buzz of enthusiasm and happiness. We did not resist the temptation!
End note: When we returned to Vernon, we had a good half-hour to wait for our train back to Paris. We were actually quite hungry, so we sat down in the sun outside the pub across the road from the station and enjoyed a beer and a sandwich with salad and some exquisite chunks of house-poached chicken. Oh, the pleasure of eating in France!