Many visitors do not realize that one of France’s biggest attractions, Monet’s Gardens, is the perfect day trip by train from Paris. Take a break from hassle and bustle of the city and slow down in gorgeous surroundings with this day excursion. When visiting the gardens, you will feel you step into Monet’s art. The enchanted scenery had inspired his water-lily paintings which are among the most recognized and celebrated works of the 20th Century.
I am not an art connoisseur, but Monet’s paintings, especially those reflecting nature, speak to me. He is one of my favorite painters. For that reason when visiting Northern France, one of the must-see attractions is also the perfect day trip by train from Paris: a visit to his house and gardens in Giverny.
Claude Monet – a founder of French Impressionism
Impressionism in painting developed in Paris in the 1860’s. In turning away from details, the new trend aimed to capture the sensory effect of a scene.
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The idea was to reflect landscape rather than historical or mythological scenes while painting in sunlight directly from nature. Making use of the vivid synthetic pigments, impressionist developed a lighter and brighter manner of painting.
Claude Monet, 14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926, became one of the most prolific of the Impressionists. He developed ambition of documenting the French countryside. He painted the same scene many times to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons.
In 1883 Monet moved from Paris to Giverny, where he purchased a house and property. He designed his own landscaping which included garden and lily ponds. In 1899 he began painting the water lilies and continued it for the next 20 years of his life.
How to take a day trip by train from Paris
It is easy to make a day trip by train to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, located just fifty miles to the west of Paris. It is the fastest and most economical way to visit. The trains in France are comfortable and very punctual.
From Paris take a train from Gare Saint Lazare station to Vernon. The ride lasts about 5o minutes and will let you experience the French countryside. Giverny is located about 3 miles from Vernon.
In Vernon, you will have a few choices in getting to Giverny. The best way is by shuttle bus. It departures about 15 minutes after the train’s arrival. It takes 15 minutes to reach the gardens. You can also take a taxi, walk, or rent a bicycle.
Highlights of a day trip to Monet’s Gardens
When decorating my own house, way before my visit to Monet’s Gardens, I was inspired by the French Country style, especially its dominating colors – yellow, blue and white.
No wonder I fell in love with the idyllic country home of the father of impressionism. In this pink house, the artist lived his passion for painting, photography, and gardening.
Claude Monet did not like organized nor constrained gardens. He matched flowers according to their colors and left them to grow rather freely. You find a feel of natural meadows there, rather than formal gardens.
Never before had an artist shaped his subjects in nature before painting them. He created his masterpieces twice, in the real world and then on canvas.
Japanese inspired water garden
In Monet’s water garden, you will find the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, other smaller bridges, weeping willows, a bamboo wood and above all the famous water lilies.
During the last thirty years of his life, the artist created a series of approximately 250 oil painting of the lilies paying close attention to their reflections in the water.
In today’s world, each of the lily paintings is worth between 15 to 40 million dollars.
Monet’s final studio has been made into a lovely gift shop. The price range allows anyone to make a purchase.
Tips on how to visit
If traveling during summer months, take the first morning train from Paris to beat the crowds and the heat. Bring water, comfortable shoes, a sunblock and a sun hat. Have some snacks too. Food is available a short walk away but not on the grounds.
If you are planning on visiting the south of France, read My Dream of Provence and Eating Like a Local in the French Rivera and Provence.