Claude Monet first caught sight of the peaceful village of Giverny from a train window on a trip to Normandy. He fell in love with the village and spent over 40 years here, from 1883 to his death in 1926. The artist painted a number of works in the surrounding countryside, including the Poplars series, Haystacks and countless works depicting family bliss with his wife Alice and her children. The garden in front of the pink, green-shuttered house became a work of art that the great contemplator of nature nurtured and tended over the years and which inspired, among others, his famous and prolific Water Lilies series.
Less than 60mi/100km and a 75min-drive from Paris, Giverny continues to enchant our senses. The visitor is first struck by the timeless quality of the spot, preserved from rampant urbanism and free of the usual trappings of city life such as roundabouts, shopping malls and strip developments. Giverny idles by the banks of the Seine, painting a picture that has remained practically unchanged for the last hundred years, to the delight of tourists from all over the world. Indeed, this widespread appeal is perhaps the sole drawback, and at weekends, particularly if the weather is fine, the prospect of jostling with hundreds or other visitors for a glimpse explains why we recommend visiting Claude Monet’s house and garden on a weekday and whatever the case, buying your ticket ahead of time over the internet.
Claude Monet’s house
When Monet first moved to Giverny in 1883, he rented the house called the “Pressoir”. Threatened with expulsion, he managed to buy the estate in 1890 thanks to financial help from art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. From then on, the artist began extending the property to provide more comfortable housing for his large family, including his own two sons and the six children of his companion, Alice Hoschedé, whilst modifying it for his work as an artist.
The long pink, green-shuttered house overlooking the garden has remained authentic and steeped in the charm of a bygone era. Simple and homely, the house however hosted a number of prestigious guests, among whom Clémenceau, on many occasions. It is now home to reproductions by the artist and his collection of Japanese prints (18-19C). Visitors are delighted to discover the blue reading room, the bedroom with its bed and cylinder desk, the sitting room-artist’s studio, the yellow dining room with its painted furniture, and above all, the kitchen with its blue earthenware tiles. The former “large studio”, built between 1914 and 1916 so that he could work on his Water Lilies series, is now the visitor centre and shop.
The garden, which changes with the seasons, features the water garden and the “Normandy clos”. The latter has remained as flower-decked as it was when Monet owned the property. The paths, a riot of flowers in spring and summer, lead to the artificial water garden, which the artist created in 1893 when he bought an extra plot of land. On the other side of the road, a Japanese-inspired garden is fed by water from the Epte. The highlight of the famous Water Lily pond is the Japanese bridge spanning the pond whose surface is covered in water lilies and whose banks are lined in bamboos and rhododendrons, with a huge weeping willow on one side.
Rue Claude-Monet – Crossing the village, Giverny’s main street, lined with artists’ studios and art galleries, leads first to the former Baudy hotel and then to the cemetery around Saint Radegonde Church. Monet is buried here, in a flower-decked tomb lined in white marble in the company of his wife Alice, his son, Jean, and Ernest Hoschedé, his friend and first owner of Impression, a sunrise, the founding work of the Impressionist movement.
Claude Monet’s House
84 r. Claude-Monet - www.claude-monet-giverny.fr - 25 March - 1 Nov: 9.30am-6pm (last admission 5.30pm) - €9.50 (children €5.50) - €16;50 combined ticket with the Musée des Impressionnismes.
Musée des Impressionnismes
99 r. Claude-Monet - www.mdig.fr – 25 March-3 July, 14 July-6 Nov: 10am-6pm (last admission 5.30pm) – guided tours on request (75mins) - €7 (-18 years €4.50) - 16,50 € €16;50 combined ticket with Claude Monet’s House and Vernon Museum – free of charge first Sunday of each month.