by Emily Fraser
If you’ve seen the sights of Paris, wandered the streets, enjoyed the atmosphere, and still have a day to spare, I’d highly recommend a side trip to Giverny and the estate of Claude Monet. Whether it’s the paintings or the real thing that you’re into, I can assure you won’t be disappointed!
For those who haven’t heard of Giverny, it’s a small village about 80km west of Paris, most famous as being the location of the late Claude Monet’s garden and home. You can visit on our small group tour or make your own way there by train, or various day tours run from Paris, including the traditional coach, or a bike tour for the more adventurous. My experience was based on the latter – we met our group and guide at the Gare St Lazare and caught a train to Vernon, where we picked up our bikes and rode to the local farmers’ market. This was such a pleasant experience – we wandered the market and put together our own picnic lunch, then rode to a beautiful park at the old Vernon mill – a half-timbered house hanging over the Seine – you really have to see it to believe it! It just so happened to be a perfect early-spring day when I visited, the sun was shining and it was a very enjoyable 25 degrees. From there it was a leisurely 5km ride along the bike path, to the picturesque town of Giverny.
I don’t think words can really do this place justice so I hope some of my photos can give you a semi-impression of its beauty and tranquillity (despite the tourists, such as me!). Even if you’re not an art fan, I can pretty much guarantee that at least one spot in this garden will be instantly recognisable to you. You can spend a good couple of hours strolling through the gardens, relaxing in the sun and exploring the late artist’s home.
And whilst this is an extremely interesting day trip from an art lover’s point of view, I actually think one of the best things about this is getting out of the city and into the real countryside of France. It’s a completely different experience all together and you’ll get to discover the exquisite beauty and charm of a small French village, have a drink in the local tavern, and buy some produce from the local markets – superbe!