Monet’s garden - is this the most beautiful garden in the world?
Claude Monet (1840-1926) was a founder of the French Impressionist movement. He also left us a body of work that helped create a fresh view of the world. Many of his more memorable works were painted in his garden at Giverny, 75km west of Paris, where he lived from 1883 until his death at the age of 86. His home and garden (including the water lily pond) were bequeathed by his son Michel to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966 and was opened to the public in 1980.
Image and source: Monet's house - Giverny
While the house contains Monet’s collection of Japanese woodcut prints and an expansive gift shop, the real joy of this cultural site is, of course, the garden. While impressionism was about perception over nature, the artist’s garden provides a chance to walk through a Monet painting like Alice in Wonderland. Monet’s vast landscaping project has become his most enduring art work - a riot of colour and a wild profusion of summer flowers.
There are two parts to the garden. The first is the Clos Normand, a flower garden in front of the house. The other is the Japanese-inspired water garden and its immediately recognisable bridge. Monet famously said of his beloved gardens, ”All my money goes into my garden," and "I am in raptures."
It feels like a great privilege to be able to visit this phenomenal cultural landmark however be aware that it is one you will share with many many others. These enticing gardens are open from the end of March until the start of November and during this time there are many coaches delivering tourists. A massive half a million people visit each year, which gives an indication of just how spectacular the view is. If you decide to go on one of the many tours on offer then be aware you may only be there for an hour or so before you are due back at the tour bus.
If you really want to savour this spectacular experience then the ideal way to see Giverny is to drive yourself or take a train and leave Paris early, or stay locally. The gardens are open from 9.30am until 6pm and at either end of the day the hordes will either still be in Paris drinking coffee or back in Paris having pre-dinner drinks.
If you are planning a train trip, then you will be aiming for Vernon on the main Paris/Rouen/Le Havre line – a fast train takes just 45 minutes and leaves from Saint-Lazare station. Be aware that Vernon is about an hour walk from Giverny. If you take a taxi it should cost roughly 15 Euros while the bus costs 8 Euros return.
From April to October the gardens are in bloom with various flowers at each stage. The spring flowers of May to June are probably the most intensely beautiful yet in summer the Nympheas are blooming. September and October highlight amazing autumn colours and perhaps even the mists Monet captured so well in this art.
Image source: Giverny
To find out more or to pre-book tickets to the garden (the cost for all adults €10.20) click here.
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Have you been to Giverny and enjoyed the gardens? Are there other gardens you have discovered in Australia or around the world you think are worth visiting? Join our conversation below…