There has been this incredible excitement and positive energy brewing inside of me in the last few weeks since the season started to shift from those dark Winter days into the bright fresh light of Spring. With that comes the desire to leave Paris for day trips at the weekend and explore the surrounding villages and countryside. With a long list of places we would love to visit and with Spring almost in full bloom it will soon be opening season and time to start exploring outside the city.
Last May we took a day trip to Vernon and Giverny to see Monet’s Garden, an inspiring place of plants and colour. The train trip was about 45 minutes from Paris to Vernon, departing from Saint Lazare station. This was our first day trip outside Paris together, and what better place than a fantastic garden in the lovely Summer sun?
Due to the tourist season, there were a lot of others on the train travelling to see the garden. After arriving at Vernon, we thought it better to hire bicycles from a local bar outside the train station after seeing the amount of people lined up for the perhaps stuffy Giverny bus. The bike hire was €14 per person for the day and what a fantastic decision that was. It was such a lovely ride to Giverny (not without some mild confusion trying to figure our way through Vernon!) and the bike path along the Seine was nicely paved and gorgeous to ride along. Vernon itself had a few nice sights, old houses and a castle, but the best was still to come in Giverny.
We bought our tickets online the night before and with our Monet’s Garden ticket we also had access to the Musée des Impressionnismes just a short distance up the street from the garden. In the neighbourhood we spotted so many pretty restaurants and gorgeous bed and breakfast houses, which were certainly tempting us to stay the night.
The gardens themselves were amazing. It was certainly a great time of year to go with all the flowers in bloom. The house on the property itself was shoulder-to-shoulder filled with people slowly walking through admiring the furniture, decorations and the extensive collection of Japanese woodblock “ukiyo-e” prints that Monet had collected throughout his lifetime living there. The kitchen had a enormous large stove oven, and some amazing patterned tiles and copper pots and pans.
On the other side of the gardens (via a small road underpass) is where the most classic imagery of Monet’s Gardens lives: the green bridge and the small lake filled with water lilies. Again, lots of tourists, but the serenity of the environment is calming and tranquil and it is possible to forget how many people there are around you and enjoy the garden.
After our visit to the gardens we made our way to the nearby Musée and saw the Degas exhibition, showcasing drawings, sculptures and paintings throughout his career. Our day trip came to an end with the most delicious bottle of Giverny’s local cider Le Verger de Giverny there in the museum garden.
If you haven’t been to Giverny or Vernon yet, we would highly recommend going during Spring/Summer. The sights, smells, and colours will amaze and the calm tranquility (even with all the tourists!) is really refreshing. We are looking forward to planning and sharing our day trips out of Paris this Spring and would definitely visit Giverny again.