As a first timer to Paris, there were many places I wanted to visit and some that I would be willing to wait until my next visit. One visit that was not going to wait was my visit to Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny. His impressionist paintings gave a sense of peace and serenity to me, and I wanted to walk in his gardens and see what he saw.
It was easy getting there – remember, for this entire trip we used public transportation. We were able to take the metro to Gare Saint-Lazare. We purchased tickets at the kiosk for the Vernon/Rouen/Le Havre train and getting off the train at the Vernon stop. You do not know before which train track you will be boarding as it is not announced on the departure board till 20 minutes before. We attempted to find out this information a little earlier by going to the information desk/ticket desk but they merely said to wait the 20 minutes. There were plenty of pastry shops at the train station so I passed the time by sampling the chocolate croissants at some of the counters. One thing I found interesting is that many of the train stations that we were departing or arriving in had pianos where passengers could sit and play.
It had been suggested that we take the 08:20 AM train so that we would be at Monet’s home around the time that they opened for visitors (9:30) and before all the tour buses got there. The train trip is about 45 minutes in duration and once you get to Vernon you have a few choices to make as to how to get to Monet’s home. There is a shuttle bus waiting for the train passengers just outside of the train station. The cost, in 2016, was 8€ for the roundtrip. The downside is that you wait for everyone to board and pay and that does take awhile. Other passengers that we spoke with took a cab and a few walked the 5 k to get to the home. In retrospect, we should have taken a cab and found others to share the expensive. We found that after we were dropped off in the bus lot we had a walk to get to the home Those who had taken the cab had said that they were there before too many people had arrived and had wonderful pictures without the hordes of tourist. It seemed like almost all of my photos have people in them.
What was interesting about this morning is that is was misty and a little foggy giving that feeling that you are seeing exactly what Monet saw when he painted his pictures. We were there during the third week of September and the colors were not as bright as they might have been during the summer, but for me bright colors were not reflected in his paintings.
The grounds looked just like his paintings including the old green rowboat, the bridge, the water lilies.
I felt like I was walking through his paintings and walked around the loop through his gardens at least twice. There was a thicket of bamboo and the weeping willow trees that overhung the pond. It was very mythical and ethereal. I didn’t want to let go and leave, I was mesmerized. It was as if I was walking around silently and absorbing all that was Monet.
The crowds and buses had arrived and it was getting crowded so we headed for the tour of his home. His study with his paintings and his kitchen were the rooms that stood out to me. The back of his home had many windows that overlooked the gardens but none had the best views like those from his bedroom and his studio.
What was interesting is that Monet, unlike other artists, did not come upon a scene and paint it. Rather, through his hard work, he created a landscape that he painted. It took almost twenty years for him to create his gardens.
If you want to read more Monet, and his water lily paintings that are, in a sense, his swan song, then please read Monet’s Angels.
We were able to get a train around noon to head back to Paris in time for our tour of the second level of the Eiffel Tower which I’ll talk about later.
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