A perfect spring day. Blue sky, with the temperature in the mid seventies and a light breeze. Perfect for visiting Giverny, the location of Monet’s garden in Normandy, a quick 45 minute train ride outside of Paris. The only problem is that it was not such an original idea. It seems everyone had the same thought.
As our train car emptied at Vernon, the closest stop to Giverny, we began to realize our mistake. Then we saw the long line boarding the shuttle buses to the garden. We still had hope and thought we could bypass the crowds at the garden by splurging on a taxi for the short 7 kilometer jaunt. Unfortunately, it turns out that many people arrive by car, with the parking lots over flowing and those not lucky enough to find a spot having to park along the street running through the small town.
The line at the entrance, a 45 minute wait when we entered at 1:30pm, was even longer when we left the garden at 3:30. Once you enter you are still not free from the masses with long queues to get into Monet’s house as well as all the way around his famous water lily pond.
OK, but is it worth it? It’s hard to enjoy a garden that resembles a jam packed photo workshop where everyone is trying to get that perfect close-up of the most banal flower. But if you are a fan and have to see the spot where Monet painted his most famous works, well then you have to see it when the water lilies are blooming. Hence the multitudes. The rest of the garden is casual rather than formal. Rows of mixed beds in the French style with various textures in coordinating color combinations.
After your visit to the garden – for a little space to take a breath – you can walk back to the Vernon station, about an hour along a pleasant path next to the Seine. Walk to the end of Giverny village in the direction of Vernon, turn left, cutting back over the main road leading to Giverny, and follow the dirt track that eventually runs down along the river. Cross over the bridge back into Vernon and follow the main road down to the train station. For more specific info on visiting Monet’s House and Garden see Giverny.org.
For links to all the posts in this series see the Other Destinations in France page.