Located northwest of the capital of France, Monet Garden makes it the perfect day trip from Paris at any time of year. Each season sees different flowers bloom, and the famous water lilies come to life in July – August.
The house and the garden, located in Giverny, where Monet lived and died, are delightful and worth the visit, but you’ve got to plan it well. So feel free to follow our tips below to make the most of your trip to Monet’s gardens. These quick suggestions will help you save time and money. And, most importantly, help you enjoy one of the most beloved gardens in Normandy and even France.
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Top tips for visiting Monet’s Garden
Visiting Monet’s House and Gardens was the highlight of our Normandy trip, so here are our top tips for visiting this awe-inspiring place because we want you to enjoy the experience as much as we did.
1. Arrive at Giverny the night before
Monet’s Garden and House is the second most visited tourist site in Normandy after the Mont Saint Michel, and it can get hectic during the day.
Staying in or nearby Giverny the night before your visit to the famous gardens will allow you to explore the pretty town pacefully. Compared to the chaos and disruption in the daytime, Giverny is an oasis of tranquillity in the late afternoon.
You can visit art galleries, the impressionism museum, cafes, and restaurants in and around the village in the daytime. But an early evening, when most visitors leave for the day, is the best time to explore and take photos of the town without the crowds. If you fancy a glass of French wine, a few restaurants are open till late. Otherwise, you can walk around the town and check the queueing spot to save time in the morning.
Also, don’t miss the Église Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny church and the small cemetery. It’s the burial place of Claude Monet and his family. The family gravestone is the third from the right, with a white cross positioned above a white tomb.
There’s also a memorial to seven British airmen among the other older tombstones. The day after D-Day, their plane was shot and crashed close to the nearby River Seine, killing all the crew.
If you are touring Normandy in a campervan/van conversion, there’s a large Aire right across the street from the garden. Staying here allows to explore Giverny later in the afternoon when the famous garden is closed.
The Aire gets pretty busy during the day but quiet later in the evening. We had a good night’s sleep before visiting Monet House and Gardens.
Check out these fabulous Giverny accommodation options near Monet House and Gardens.
2. Book the Skip the Line tour with a local guide
To beat the queues, get your skip-the-line ticket in advance. This option will take a lot of hassle out of your day, and you’ll have a knowledgeable local guide to take you around the house and the gardens.
Otherwise, tickets to Monet Garden cost €12-€13 per person, depending on which site you’re using. You can book your tickets online via the Giverny.org website or the Foundation Claude Monet site. You can also buy them on the day at the entrance into the house and gardens, but we recommend pre-booking in advance.
If you are on a whirlwind trip to France and don’t fancy driving or taking the train, you can treat yourself to a lovely Versailles and Monet Garden day trip from Paris.
3. Visit outside the season
The peak season at Monet Garden is spring (especially May) – summertime and one way to enjoy the site without the buzzing crowds and too much queuing is to come here outside the busy time.
We visited the place in late August and found it pretty lively but nowhere near as busy as it gets during the high season.
4. Plan a morning visit
If you’re travelling independently and staying a short walk/drive away from Giverny – arrive at the place as early as possible for a relaxing visit. We found morning visits to be more pleasant at most attractions.
Checking the opening times and queuing before the ticket booth opens always helps! Unless you have the skip-the-line ticket, in which case, enjoy your visit!
Plan at least 2 hours to explore the house and gardens.
5. Visit Vernon on the way to Giverny
On your way to Giverny, you’ll pass the town of Vernon. If you have time, stop here for a couple of hours to explore one of Monet’s favourite places in the area.
The small town is home to many beautiful sites, including the restored medieval Old Mill that sits above the water of the river Seine – the original building suffered damage during WWII. Now revived by the people of Vernon, the mill was an object of interest among many painters, including Monet. He named his painting “Houses on the Old Bridge at Vernon” after completing it in 1883.
6. Stop at Château Gaillard
Les Andelys is another lovely place close to Giverny. Famed for the impressive hilltop Château Gaillard, it offers fantastic views of the French countryside and Petit-Andeley.
Constructed in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart, Duke of Normandy and King of England, the ruined castle surrounded by a moat is an impressive fortress to explore today.
8. Skip toll roads in France if you’re on a budget
One way to get from Paris to Monet’s Garden in Giverny is to rent a car – it will take you just over an hour if you use the toll roads. However, they can be costly in France.
Choosing an alternative route will add a few extra minutes to your journey but save you money.
While touring France in our lovely van conversion, we used Google maps navigation to avoid toll roads, and here’s how you can do it too:
- Set the route (Paris to Giverny)
- Click Route Options
- Check the box “Avoid toll roads.”
How to get to Monet’s Garden from Paris
To reach Monet’s gardens from Paris, you can drive, take a train or book a tour.
By Road – driving to Giverny takes just over an hour making Monet’s Garden a perfect day trip from Paris. Also, if you leave early enough, you can visit Vernon and Chateau Gaillard’s beautiful ruins.
Taking the direct route via the A13, the toll is around €19. A slower journey from Paris to Giverny can easily avoid toll roads if you have a tight budget.
By Train – getting to Monet’s Gardens from Paris by train is easy. Trains for Le Havre (via Rouen) leave Saint-Lazare Paris station and take just 46 minutes to arrive at Vernon. The ticket costs €9 each way (single).
You can catch a shuttle bus from Vernon for Giverny, grab a cab, or walk. Depending on your fitness level, walking can take up to an hour.
Taxis are available at the train station for €20 onwards per journey. You could try Uber – it’s much cheaper. Shuttle buses cost €5 for a single or €10 for a round-trip ticket.
Book a tour – There are many options, from full-day trips to combined Versailles and Monet’s Garden tours.
The Monet house and garden experience
Claude Monet, the founder of Impressionism, has always been a rebel. After refusing to enrol in the École des Beaux-Arts, he socialised with advanced artists and learnt from them instead.
Perhaps, one of the most significant moments in Monet’s career was meeting Eugene Boudin. The painter introduced young Monet to a unique form of painting – painting in the open air. The practice that the artist adopted throughout his entire career. From 1886 to 1914, Monet significantly impacted American artists in Giverny. They adopted his spontaneous painting style and introduced Impressionism to American art.
Even though he spent a year serving in Algeria and later travelled to Morocco and London, his biggest inspiration came from his home in Giverny. Monet bought a house and moved to Giverny with his family in 1883. Later, in 1893, he purchased a piece of marshland across the road from his home, which he carefully landscaped into what we know today as the famous water-lilies garden.
He fuelled his impressionist vision with this garden for 30 years, from 1915 until his death. The lily pond and the Japanese bridge inspired his last series of 250 oil paintings – Water Lilies.
Both the garden and the house suffered severe damage during WWII. Luckily, even though it took ten years, both were successfully restored thanks to generous donations, mainly from the USA.
Visiting Monet’s house
Despite being a replica, the house feels original as you walk up the creaky staircase.
You start with the “little blue sitting room” and the studio. It’s a little tight with so many people milling around, admiring the paintings and taking photos. And a little dim to preserve the art. But it also gives you a good perspective of what it was like in the house when the whole family was home. With eight children, it must have been pretty turbulent.
Upstairs is Monet’s bedroom, with a large window overlooking roses in Monet’s garden. It’s a great photo opportunity here. But it’s a busy spot since everyone agrees that this is the best spot in the house. Copies of paintings by the artist himself and Renoir, among other painters, adorn the walls.
The yellow – and very modern at the time – dining room and the kitchen area are lovely. Copper pots and pans of all shapes and sizes hang on the walls decked with beautiful blue Rouen tiles. A massive cooker sits in the corner, and a large table in the middle looks inviting.
Through the kitchen door, you come out into the garden. It’s as busy here as inside the house, but hang on in there. Walk at your own pace and enjoy the colourful surroundings.
Exploring Clos Normand and the Water Garden
From Monet’s kitchen, you’ll step right into Clos Normand, the central flower garden in front of the house.
Monet’s ingenious gardening legacy is the variety of seasonal flowers in the garden. There’s always something going on at any time of year.
There are so many flowers in this part of the garden that you could time your visit with particular plant blossoming times. Springtime is the best time to visit Monet’s Garden because of the volume of blooming flowers.
April is the time for tulips, forget-me-nots and daffodils. May brings clusters of pink rhododendrons and violet wisteria dangling over the famous bridge to the bloom. July is the beginning of waterlilies, and August is the last month you can catch them in full colour. We were lucky to find the garden full of delicate roses during our visit in late August.
Across the road from Clos Normand, which you pass through a tunnel, you’ll find the water garden and the Japanese bridge.
The Japanese bridge is a replica, too – the original structure suffered too much damage to survive. Monet himself has planted the wisteria rustling above it, though.
Along the pond banks, shaded with beautiful willow trees and bamboo, you’ll find the legendary nymphéas.