The soft, translucent light of the Seine valley has drawn artists to Normandy for centuries and it was here that Claude Monet made his home at Giverny. His paintings were inspired by the garden he created, full of flowers like splashes of colour on an artist’s palate. The Monet garden at Giverny is now run by the Fondation Monet, who have restored it much as it was when the artist painted his famous series of Nymphéas water lilies, with watery reflections in the Japanese inspired garden.
A visit to the Giverny gardens is one of the most popular things to do in Normandy, beloved by tour groups and often crowded, so we share tips from our visit, to give you the best experience when you visit Monet’s house and garden.
The Monet Garden at Giverny
As a visitor entering the Monet Garden at Giverny, your visit takes you first through the hectare of garden that stretches out from the house, known as the Clos Normand. When Claude Monet acquired the property in 1890, this was laid out as a traditional garden with lawns, orchards and flowerbeds. As Monet’s garden developed, he removed the box and cyprus trees in front of the house, replacing the apple orchard with cherry and apricot trees. The flower beds were expanded following the English style of the time, to create the garden that we see today. When we visited in July, each border overflowed with colour, arranged with a painter’s eye to a single colour theme in sunset shades of red and orange or soft combinations of pink and purple.
Within the Claude Monet garden, flower beds are divided by gravel paths, the broadest leading from the front door of the house, with metal arches overhung by roses and fringes of orange nasturtium that spread across the path throughout the summer. A large team of gardeners keep the gardens looking its best, swapping one plant for another as the season progresses.
There are a few benches along the path but not too many, as visitors are encouraged to keep moving along designated paths. Some paths are blocked off by chains, which makes it easier to take nice photos without having to wait for others to move out the way. The Giverny gardens are an enchanting profusion of colourful flowers and it’s hard to resist spending endless hours taking photos, although you could walk around in under an hour if you wish.
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The Monet Water Garden at Giverny
In the last twenty years of his life the Claude Monet Water lilies became famous through his series of paintings of the second garden that Monet created at Giverny. The Monet water garden is separated from the Clos Normand by the road to Vernon and is reached through a tunnel that runs under the road to connect the two gardens.
Monet acquired this plot of land in 1893, three years after he had bought the house and already redesigned the Clos Normand garden adjoining it. His idea was to create a water garden, which he achieved by digging a large pond and diverting a narrow channel of the River Epte to fill it with water. As an artist, Monet was fascinated by the play of light and reflection in water and once established the water garden became an inspiration for his paintings of the water reflections, Japanese bridges and water lilies or Nymphéas.
As we can see from the many Japanese prints in the house, Monet was inspired by all things Japanese. Within the new garden he commissioned two green painted bridges in Japanese style, planted bamboos and weeping willows, with water lilies, wisteria and Japanese peonies to complete the oriental effect.
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In the last twenty years of his life, Claude Monet found inspiration for many paintings of water lilies and produced numerous versions of the same view, including the large panels of the Les Nymphéas that now reside in the Orangerie in Paris. Walking around the Monet Japanese garden, the paths meander along the edge of the pond, offering numerous beautiful views of the water lilies and watery reflections with a picturesque rowing boat nestling among the willows. The two Japanese bridges tend to be a bottleneck as everyone wants to stop here and have their photo taken, so if you arrive at opening time, you may want to head to the water garden first, to get those shots of you posing alone on the bridge.
The Monet House at Giverny
The Monet house at Giverny runs along one edge of the garden, facing the quiet road through the village. It’s built in the typical local style, just two rooms deep but stretching along the length of the garden, with pink stucco walls and shutters painted in the vibrant green that Monet favoured throughout the garden. Claude Monet arrived at the house in 1883, renting it as a base for his own children, his wife Camille having died a few years earlier, together with his companion and later second wife Alice Hoschédé and her children.
The house must have been a bustle of activity with eight children and a steady stream of friends visiting from Paris. Claude Monet purchased the house and garden in 1890 and decorated it with his characteristic painter’s eye and assured use of strong colours. Entering through the central garden door, your visit takes you first to the artist’s studio, filled with Monet’s paintings, although once he built his larger studio at the side of the house, this became an informal sitting room.
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To the other side of the front door is the dining room painted in vibrant yellow, filled with the Japanese prints that Monet loved to collect, and the kitchen with its blue and white Rouen tiles, filled with copper pans. Upstairs are the private bedrooms of Claude Monet and Alice Hoschédé, more traditional in style but still painted in the strong greens and blues that Monet favoured and with beautiful views from the windows across the garden.
The Japanese 18th and 19th century prints that the artist collected are arranged throughout the house, becoming an inspiration for Monet’s house and garden, especially the Japanese elements in the water lily garden. The rooms of the Claude Monet house are small and intimate and can become crowded, so you may wish to time this part of your visit carefully, perhaps going there as early as you can when you arrive.
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How to buy Monet’s Garden tickets
The Monet house and garden at Giverny are open 1 April to 1 November, from 9.30am to 6pm with last entry at 5.30pm.
Ticket price for the Monet house and gardens is €9.50 per adult, with combined tickets available for other Impressionist museums, including the Musee des Impressionnismes at Giverny.
We strongly recommend booking your Giverny tickets online in advance. This needs to be done at least one day before your visit. You can then go to a separate entrance to get direct admittance to the garden without queuing. If you have advance tickets do not go to the normal ticket office where the lines are often very long but instead look for signs to the advance booking / groups entrance which is on the small lane that runs down the western side of the garden between the main road and Rue Claude Monet.
Timed tickets are available for 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm or 3.30pm. For each of these there is a 1.5 hour timescale to enter (for example the 9.30am ticket allows entry between 9.30am and 11am) and once you enter the garden you can stay as long as you wish. We recommend booking Monet’s garden tickets for the 9.30am slot if possible as the crowds quickly start to build up throughout the day, or you could go for the 3.30pm slot at the end of the day when the crowds are starting to reduce.
Online tickets may be purchased from 3 different authorised companies (Ticketmaster, Digitick and FNAC) with all details on the Giverny tickets page. For English speaking visitors, we recommend using Ticketmaster since the instructions are easy to follow in English.
If you are not able or don’t wish to buy tickets online at least 1 day in advance, you can still buy tickets on the day at the main entrance on Rue Claude Monet. However, the lines to buy tickets can be very long, especially in the middle of the day and in the most popular summer months. In this case my best advice would be to arrive just before opening time at 9.30am so that you can be first in the queue and get into the gardens before the crowds build up.
How to get to the Monet Gardens at Giverny
By Car – The Claude Monet Gardens at Giverny are around 60 km from Rouen (1 hr drive) and 80 km from Paris (1.5 hr drive). Once you reach Giverny, there are three car parks which are free. If you have limited mobility, look for the car park that is just opposite Monet’s house, or navigate to Restaurant Les Nympheas which is by this car park. Otherwise there are two other car parks by the mini roundabout on either side of the main road through Giverny. It’s worth checking an online map to familiarise yourself with the location of car parks before you arrive.
We parked in the car park on the south side of the road, which is the largest and is suitable for motorhomes, from here it’s a 10 minute walk to the Monet House and Gardens, using the tunnel under the road. Although there’s a lot of parking between the three car parks, there are also many visitors to Giverny. If visiting in the most popular summer months, you way wish to visit early or late in the day and avoid arriving mid morning when the car parks will be busiest.
By Train – You can arrive by train to the station at Vernon – Giverny, which is a 10 minute drive or 1 hour walk from the Monet Gardens at Giverny. If travelling from Paris to Giverny, take the train from Gare Saint Lazare. The journey time by train from Paris to Giverny is around 50 minutes and there are trains running almost every hour. From the station at Vernon, there is a shuttle bus that runs 15 minutes after the arrival of the train to take you to the Monet Gardens. The cost of the shuttle bus is €5 one way or €10 return, cash or credit cards accepted. You can find the shuttle bus timetable here.
Cycling – I read that you can rent bikes in front of Vernon station, and you can also park your bike in the main car parks.
Monet garden tours
It’s quite straightforward to visit Giverny by car or train, but for ease there are many tours that start from Paris – check out these tours to Giverny.
This half day Giverny Tour from Paris includes transport by luxury coach, a tour guide, audio guide and skip the line tickets.
Take a Monet’s Garden bike excursion from Paris to Giverny – you’ll travel by coach from Paris with a local guide to the nearby town of Vernon where you can pick up your bike and helmet, then cycle along the Seine to the Monet Garden which you can visit with a skip the line ticket.
Take this full day tour from Paris to Versailles and Giverny – you’ll travel by coach from Paris to Giverny for your Monet garden tour with skip the line tickets and afterwards have lunch, then visit the palace of Versailles before returning to Paris.
When is the best time to visit the Monet Gardens at Giverny?
The Monet gardens are open 1 April to 1 November and closed in the winter months. The garden is well maintained by a team of gardeners who keep it looking at its best with colourful planting throughout the opening season, so there’s never really a bad time to visit. Many visitors will want to see the garden in the late spring and early summer, when the flower beds are bursting with colours, the roses are in full bloom and the water lilies are at their best. However this is also the season when the garden may be at its most crowded, so you may prefer to visit earlier or later in the season for this reason. We visited in July when the garden was looking beautiful.
In Spring the Clos Normand is full of colour from daffodils, tulips and spring blossoms, with the wisteria over the Japanese bridge in the water garden blooming in May. Summer brings a riot of colour, with the water lilies in bloom at the end of June and into July, and the borders full of blazing colour in August. As summer turns to Autumn, the nasturtiums in the Clos Normand creep across the central path and the garden is full of dahlias, daisies and asters, with autumn colour of trees starting to appear and the weeping willows turning yellow.
What else is there to see in Giverny?
It’s also worth visiting the Musée des Impressionnismes in Giverny which is just a short walk along the village road from the Claude Monet House and Gardens. The museum is devoted to the history of Impressionism and the artists that came to paint in the Seine Valley, hosting two exhibitions each year as well as events, conferences and residencies for artists.
We didn’t visit the museum as it was closed at the time of our visit, but it would be well worth taking a look and the gardens in front of the museum are also beautiful. I would recommend visiting the Monet Gardens in the morning, having a relaxed lunch at one of the restaurants and then perhaps visiting the Impressionist museum in the afternoon to complete your day.
Musée des Impressionnismes Website | Adult ticket €7.50 Audioguide €4 | See website for opening times
In addition to the museum there are also a number of art galleries in Giverny close to the Monet House and Gardens, so spend a while wandering around the village to find them. From the 1880s, the presence of Claude Monet at Giverny attracted other American artists to settle in the area, so these galleries are continuing the tradition of artists in the Seine Valley.
In nearby Vernon, where you will arrive if coming by train, you can also visit the Museum of Vernon which has a collection of Impressionist paintings, including two original Monet paintings. Opposite the Vernon station there are bikes for hire, which you can use to ride along the path beside the River Seine.
Hotels in Giverny
Most of the accommodation in Giverny and the surrounding villages is in small family run hotels, bed and breakfasts or self catering cottages. Look out for terms such as chambres d’hôtes (a bed and breakfast with no more than 5 bedrooms), maison d’hôtes (the same as a chambres d’hotes but perhaps with more hotel style facilities), hotel de charme (a small hotel with character) and gites (a self catering cottage or apartment).
I’ve listed some of the guest houses in Giverny village that are within walking distance of Monet’s garden, but there are numerous accommodation options. If you have a car and are on a budget, you may find that accommodation is cheaper in other villages of the Seine valley, as you move a little further from Giverny. As we have not personally stayed at these accommodation suggestions, please review the website and reviews carefully before making your choice. Check out all accommodation near Giverny
La Reserve *Our choice* | Website | A large house with 5 bedrooms decorated in elegant Normandy style with traditional prints and antique furnishings, as well as a large garden.
La Dime de Giverny | Website | Check prices and book for La Dime de Giverny | Charming old buildings, furnished in contemporary style, with large gardens. In addition to the 5 bedrooms there are a couple of self catering gites.
Restaurants and cafes in Giverny
There are plenty of restaurants in Giverny that are close to the Monet Gardens, if you want to have a nice lunch or refreshment break. I’ve mentioned below the ones that are closest to the gardens but there are others within the Giverny village, which is an easy walk away while leaving your car in the main car parks. Bear in mind that Giverny is a tourist hotspot, so the prices in the restaurants closest to the Monet Gardens will tend to be on the high side.
You can also bring a picnic to have before or after your visit to the Monet gardens, as picnics are not allowed in the gardens themselves. It’s worth also bringing snacks and water with you as there are no food shops close to the gardens, so you will pay cafe prices for any drinks you buy. Be sure to read the Tripadvisor reviews and websites below to check that the restaurant will suit your requirements.
Restaurant Les Nympheas | Website | Tripadvisor Reviews | This is the closest restaurant to the Monet House and gardens and adjoins the car park, with a pleasant outdoor terrace and two inside restaurant rooms. The menu is a mix of classic French and Normandy dishes as well as cakes and pastries, with table service.
Le Capucine Giverny * My favourite * | Website | Tripadvisor Reviews | This contemporary cafe is on the pedestrianised road that leads from the Monet House and Gardens and easy to spot from the cheerful red sun umbrellas. The inside area of the cafe is quite small, but there’s a large garden terrace, so this is a great option for the warmer summer months. There’s the option of buying snacks, drinks, pre-packaged baguettes and salads from the refrigerated cabinets as well as table service from the bistrot menu.
Le Petit Giverny | Website | Tripadvisor Reviews | We stopped for a drink at this cafe that adjoins the main car park and faces the main road to Vernon. There was a small kiosk at the garden entrance and a restaurant terrace closer to the house, serving Normandy specialties, cakes and deserts.
La Brasserie des artistes | Website | Tripadvisor Reviews | This could be a good option if you want lunch following a visit to the Museum of Impressionism in Giverny as it’s set in their gardens. This is a restaurant with table service and there’s a set lunch menu as well as French and International dishes.
Picnics in Giverny – It’s not permitted to have a picnic within the Monet Gardens at Giverny. If you are planning to bring a picnic, it’s best to park in the large free car park on the south side of the main road, where there’s Motorhome parking and a shuttle bus station. There’s quite a lot of green space within the parking area where you can easily sit with a picnic close to your car. Alternatively, you may wish to walk or cycle along the banks of the Seine nearby and find a picnic spot there.
You’ll find all the information you need to plan your visit to Monet’s Garden at Giverny on the Fondation Monet website | Twitter @fondationmonet | Instagram @fondationmonet | Facebook @FondationMonetGiverny
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