Written by Cindy Bokma
Have you ever dreamed of creating an amazing day trip to Rouen and Giverny.? I am excited to share that recently I accomplished this goal! I have been a huge fan of Monet’s paintings since I was a little girl. On a school field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was so excited to see Monet’s painting up close that I traced the paint with my finger, which prompted the security guard to ask me to step away. I could not help it; to stand in front of an actual piece of work from one of my favorite artists was a huge thrill.
Fast forward many years and I found myself at Monet’s home in Giverny. We took an incredible British Isles Cruise (Celebrity Cruise) and one of the stops was La Havre. Upon perusing the possible excursions, my eye fell on a trip to Giverny as well as Rouen where Monet painted the famous cathedral.
I booked the excursion and when the day arrived to head out to Giverny, I could not have been more excited. I packed my water, motion sickness pills for the bus ride (it’s over an hour from the cruise terminal to Rouen and then on to Giverny), a hat and sunglasses! Ready to go and explore in Monet’s footsteps.
In case you aren’t familiar with Claude Monet, he is an artist who led the Impressionist movement with his soft, slightly out of focus and dreamy painting, most notably the Rouen Cathedral in various times of the day. He loved to paint outside; you have probably seen paintings of water lilies and the portraits of his extensive garden filled with poppies, wisteria, and many other plants and flowers.
Claude Monet lived at this home in Giverny from 1883 until his death in 1926 when his son inherited it.
Our tour began with a drive to Rouen, a charming little city filled with shops and restaurants located on the River Seine in the north of France. When we arrived in the city, we stopped at where Joan of Arc was brought in 1431 and then went on to see the Rouen Cathedral. Photos of this cathedral do not translate well because the detail on this church is beyond what the lens of a camera can capture.
We spent quite a while in Rouen and explored a little of the city on foot. I was eager to get to the gardens at Giverny and I highly recommend you find a tour that takes you straight there.
By the time we arrived at Monet’s gardens, the heat of the day was at its peak and there were so many visitors that we had to walk single file through the pathways. Over 500,000 people visit this place every year and I think most of them were there on the same day I was!
This was an incredibly beautiful place and I loved every second of seeing the flowers and plants. Your eyes will have to adjust to take in all of the beauty; it’s a feast for your senses. There is a flower garden in front of Monet’s house with hundreds of flowers. The single-lane paths don’t allow you to get close, but if you enjoy photography, you will still be able to get some great photos.
You go through an underground tunnel and exit on the other side of the road to see the magical Water Lily Pond. Follow the narrow lanes around the perimeter and take note of the blooming flowers. Continuing along the path, you will get to the Water Lilies, inspired by Japanese gardens.
On a busy day, I was there; it was not possible to leisurely roam around and take photos. We were rushed and with the crowds, it was a challenge to take photos without people in them. Everyone seemed to be Instagram posing and trying to take selfies on the bridge, so a good picture was not possible. Oh well!
Planted around the pond, you will find a lovely array of flowers and trees, such as weeping willows, cherry trees, rhododendrons as well as blooming azaleas, ferns, and irises. There are many poppies and a fellow tourist told me that Monet liked the opium from them, I don’t know how true that is!
Monet’s home is a picturesque pink with green shutters, framed by plants and flowers. There is only one way inside and there was a long line to get in. Once inside, the house is bright and colorful, decorated simply. The kitchen is a lovely yellow while the living room is small and quaint, featuring copies of Monet’s paintings. We did not get to go upstairs because there were too many people.
Outside, you follow a path and end up at the restrooms and a large gift shop which offers posters, cards, tote bags, and much more, all with Monet’s beautiful work imprinted on them. You can pick up souvenirs here if you want to take something back home.
Monet’s gardens are located 50 miles outside of Paris and can be visited as a day trip from Normandy or La Havre. You can rent a car or go by train. I went with a group as an excursion, booked through the cruise ship. The ride will take you approximately one hour and 15 minutes from Paris.
🌟 Check the weather before you go and dress accordingly. While we were in France, there was a heatwave and my jeans and tee-shirt were too heavy.
🌟 Always bring water and stay hydrated, especially during the summer.
🌟 May thru June is the best time to visit when everything is blooming.
🌟 Book tickets online to avoid long lines. Tickets Information
🌟 Wear comfortable shoes! For suggestions on great walking shoes: The Most Comfortable Shoes For Travel And Walking
🌟 You can book a private tour or directly with a tour company, or you might consider renting a car and driving there too. The advantage of booking a tour company is the education you will receive while enjoying the gardens.
🌟 If you are not with a tour group and have your own transportation…get up early and arrive as soon as they open. You will enjoy fewer crowds!
A visit to Giverny to view Monet’s gardens is worth your time. The setting is as beautiful as I imagined it to be and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I hope to go back someday and will plan to take the train directly to Giverny and go to the gardens as soon as they open to avoid the huge crowds. Cheers to a fabulous experience!
About Pamela Rossi
I am passionate about travel and taking each moment and making it a five star experience. My goal is to create those experiences for YOU!