We picked up our Renault Grand Scenic from the Gare du Nord and set off for Giverny. It's not that far from the centre of Paris and is a relatively easy drive - although Google maps will insist on trying to send you to the Foundation Claude Monet in Vernon!
I've been to Monet's house and garden at Giverny before and it was much as I remembered it - although a little less colourful being a little later in the season. However, that's all relative given that this is Giverny!
We got there just before lunch and left late afternoon - but inevitably it wasn't enough time. I think next time I visit I'll try and make it an all day visit. One of the reasons being that your eyes are assaulted with an awful lot of densely packed visual information. It takes quite a while just to get used the gardens - so you can see what you are seeing.
I didn't take enough photos last time I was there - and this time I had my new digicamcorder to play with too. It was actually very interesting looking at the garden through a frame as it helped me to see potential views to work up.
The weather changed quite a lot while we were there from cloud to sinshine and back to cloud again! I imagined Monet whipping canvases on and off the easel!
One of the things which struck me is how much more the garden had grown since I was last there. then it occurred to me that it probably now looks nothing like the way it did on the water garden side. I checked back to early photos and it's certainly the case that the trees surrounding the pool appear younger and not so dense.
If you've not been to Giverny and you'd like to get a bit of a sense of what I'm getting at, take a look at the two movies I've made of the two gardens
- A walk around Giverny - #1 The Water Garden (where the nympheas/waterlillies and willows are). This was supposed to be a nonstop walk around the garden however it turned out to be 12 minutes long so I shaved and snipped until I got it to 3 seconds short of 10 minutes - which meant I could upload it to You Tube!
- A walk around Giverny - #2 The Close Normand (the flower garden). This is a walk from the point where you emrege from the tunnel - up to the verandah on the house - and then from the verandah to looking at the Grande Allee - and the nasturtium - from both ends. This would have been the route that Monet took to his water garden.
Tips for visiting Giverny
- Unless planning to stay all day, I'd suggest you go early or stay late or be there over lunchtime to enjoy the garden when it's quieter. Out of high season, I've had success in parking in the car park right opposite the house when I've done this. The tourist groups off the coaches tend to be either side of the lunchtime.
- Ear plugs are probably a good investment for those wanting to enjoy Giverny in tranquillity. The road which separates the two gardens is not that busy but it can be very noisy - especially in the water garden. Ear plugs also protect you against the completely inane comments of some tour guides who appear really eager to discuss Monet's deomestic arrangements and who slept where rather than the paintings he produced while living here!
- It's very easy to lose track of time - and the gift shop at the end has some really good out of print books about Monet which are well nigh impossible and/or very expensive to get hold of elsewhere. I came away with The Color of Time which is a prizewinning book about Monet and his work.
- You can't paint with easels in the garden when other people are visiting - there's just not enough room. However you can apply to paint in the garden and visit on a day when it's normally closed to the public. or you can be like Joan Tavalot and paint small standing up - check out her paintings of Giverny on her blog! (see Painting Monet's Garden - Day 1 and Painting Monet's Garden - Day 2)
- it's worth checking out images of the garden on different websites to see what time of year you'd most like to visit. They all have their pros and cons.