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Giverny France Normandy Giverny

Giverny France


Giverny

Giverny is best known for being home to the Musée Claude Monet, the home (pictured above) and gardens where the most famous Impressionist painter lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. The Musée is open from April to October, 10am to 6pm, every day except Monday. Entrance to the house and gardens costs €5.50, and to the gardens only costs €4.

None of Monet's original paintings are on display in the house, though there are numerous reproductions, as they are all in Paris, but the glorious gardens are still extremely beautiful and well tended, just as Monet designed them. In the early spring there are tulips, daffodils and irises, then wisteria and rhododendrons appear as summer approaches, bringing with it roses, nasturtiums and sweet peas. By September an awesome array of dahlias, hollyhocks and sunflowers adorns the walkways and trellises. In the second part of the garden (through a dank tunnel under the busy D5 road), the jardin d'eau (water garden) with its Japanese bridges and water lilies (nymphéas) is where Monet painted his huge canvasses of light reflecting off water and the lilies. May and June are good times to visit if you want to see the wisteria on the bridges at the same time as the rhododendrons around the pond. Early September is ideal for those who love more dramatic splashes of colour and the dahlias are huge.

Inside the house there is a jumble of family photographs, reproductions of paintings and various pieces of crockery all vying for the visitor's attention and trying to make the house 'authentic'. The best bit is the yellow dining room as it doesn't look too overdone. The rest of the house is mainly blue, with lots of Hokusai, Hiroshige and other Japanese prints adorning the walls.

Also in Giverny is the Musée d'Art Américain, which is situated in an ugly building a short walk away from Monet's more picturesque property. It is a good, light and airy space though, and a fine setting for some of the artwork from American painters who spent time in France during the 1865 to 1915 period. For €5 you can see some decent John Singer Sargent and some delightful Mary Cassatt oeuvres.

After you have had your fill of art, stroll back to the tearooms opposite Monet's house the Nymphéas and take some tea on the sunny terrace, or have dinner at the Musadière hotel, the only one in Giverney at 12 rue Claude Monet (02 32 21 03 18) with rooms from €40 €55.

Getting to Giverny is easy from Paris or Rouen, or by car. From Paris you can even get a special Giverny pass that includes the train from Gare St Lazare to Vernon SNCF station and the bus connection to Giverny. There will be a découverte à deux ticket in off peak hours, so if there are two of you ask for details at the station.