Ever since I was younger, I wanted to live in a countryside cottage. I would paint and draw and tend to what I imagine would have been a very large vegetable patch and herb garden. This fanciful country life was inspired by Beatrix Potter, the Cook and the Chef and various English country shows my mother was interested in. It has still managed to still remain relevant - and I have found myself invoking little country aspects into theorised future homes (hello, bay view window).
Visiting Monet's Garden has long been a dream of mine. First introduced to his paintings at the ripe young age of ten, his hay stacks and his water lilies have stuck with me. Oh, and who could forget the Japanese bridge? I was gleeful when visiting the collection in Melbourne 2013 and again at the Musee D'Orsay. When Jason and I planned our trip to France it was only natural that Giverny, Vernon was top of the list, so much so that we actually scrapped our tickets to Nice due to time constraints...
I had to see the beautiful garden that provided Monet so much inspiration. Where he raised his children and escaped from the world, where he found solace and created the paintings that let the world escape reality. We caught the train to Vernon. It was just outside the station that we found ourselves a small cafe that doubled as a bike rental and breakfast jaunt. Hiring two bikes, we began the ride to Giverny across pebbled roads, up hills and on bridges over the Seine.
We wove through the French countryside and fields of yellow - even passing a cow or two. Some several kilometres later, we reached the garden and chained up our bikes.
Although we had been smart enough to purchase tickets to skip the queue online, we weren't too observant to find the actual door to go through with our online tickets. I recommend hunting down that door, or at least asking a person who worked there to assist you in finding it, as we found ourselves standing in a line for something we already had.
We were in soon enough however, a brief interlude in the museum and we were outside again, but on the other side of the stone wall, among the real floral action. The trip had worked out nicely, there is no better time than the Parisian Spring to visit Monet's home. Even the wisteria over the Japanese Bridge were in full bloom, the buzzing of bees in the cool air drowned out by the excited couples and families walking across the bridge.
After lunch, we set off on our bikes again to make the beautiful ride home. No maps were required, just following the path and the street signs. Unfortunately for me, among the chirping birds and the sound of wind lapping against my hair, I heard the distinct 'thud, thud, thud' of a flat tyre. My flat tyre. It was here that Jason and I resulted in taking turns pushing the bike back three something kilometres to the little cafe we hired it from.
Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise as we had the opportunity to slow down and soak everything in. We did miss our train by a few minutes, but it left us with extra time to explore the town of Vernon and its boulangeries (another pain au chocolat was purchased) and its antique and vintage stores.
Monet's garden is splendid, full of colour, scents and whimsy. I'm certain these photographs speak for themselves. If you are a Monet fan like me, or have somewhat of a green thumb, a trip to Vernon and Giverny shouldn't be missed, especially as the journey there provides you with a little glimpse of the French countryside and an escape from the city a mere forty-five minutes away. Just remember when renting bikes, check that your bike tyres don't have a hole in them!
- Give yourself at least half a day to three quarters of it just to get there, visit and come back. Don't forget to have a little lunch and go for a wander in the country side. The surrounds are equally as lovely as Monet's not so humble abode.
- The gardens are only open from April to November.
- The train you need from Paris is the Paris Gare St-Lazare to Vernon (approximately forty-five minutes). Take the bus from the train station or ride a bike to the grounds.
- Purchase tickets online and as mentioned previously, find that door and skip the queues.