Oh, what a beautiful world Claude Monet created around his home in the small village of Giverny, just about an hour out of Paris, France.

The plantings are casual, drifts of nasturtiums, bold beds of geraniums, and blocks of other brightly coloured flowers that dance around the garden, but the effect is soothing.

It provided inspiration for this famous French painter for more than 20 years, and it’s not hard to see why.

A cook or a painter?

I visited the garden with a Trafalgar Insider tour, and Travel Director Sarah told us that Monet actually thought he was a better cook than a painter.  From the size of his dining table, meals must have been a popular event, and the large kitchen was well equipped to handle a crowd.

The dining table is long and set with a white cloth and 14 yellow chairs that often featured in his paintings. A long row of shiny copper pans hangs on the blue tiled kitchen walls but the now the wood stove is cold. You can’t take photographs in the house, but I managed to capture a glimpse through the kitchen door.

Visiting the garden

The house was damaged during the World War II and then later the staircase collapsed, and floors and ceilings rotted. After 10 years of restoration work, Monet’s house and garden were opened to the public in the 1980s.

Visitors can wander through the gardens and the house from March 23 to November 1 each year, from 9.30 am to 6 pm daily. Last admission is at 5.30 pm but it would be a waste to go for such a short time.  This is a garden to enjoy at leisure, to wander the paths and drink in the views.

When the property is closed during winter the gardens are replanted for the following year’s opening.

Claude Monet’s water garden

There are two sections to the garden – a flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side of the road. Today the water garden is reached via a subway, but in Monet’s time, he merely strolled across the street.

The water garden is where you will find the famous green Japanese bridge draped with wisterias.  There are other similar small bridges and graceful weeping willows all surrounded by a swath of flowers. As I wander the willow-shaded pathways, my Trafalgar Travel Director, Sarah, reminds me to look at the reflections, not just the view, as the reflections feature strongly in Monet’s paintings.

Giverney Village

After I’ve had my fill of the garden and house, it’s off down to the historic Giverny village for lunch at the café.  It seems to be the only one around but that certainly hasn’t made them complacent, and the food and coffee are excellent.

There’s a short, self-guided walk through the village which has a lovely church to view.

Monet’s spirit remains in these flower-filled gardens, in the studio filled with paintings just as he liked to view them and in the garden view through the wide-open windows visible from his comfortable bed.

Getting there

I visited the garden on a Trafalgar Insider Tour but it is also easy to get there by train.  Board the train from St-Lazare station in Paris and travel to the Vernon-Giverny station.  

The Foundation Claude Monet runs shuttle buses between the station and the house. 

The garden is open every day from March 22 to November 1. 

It is always a beautiful garden to visit but if you have a particular flower that you love, follow this guide –

  • March – hyacinths and narcissi
  • April- daffodils and cherry trees
  • May – tulips and forget-me-nots
  • June – roses and the first water lillies
  • July – sunflowers and hollyhocks
  • August – dahlias and gladioli
  • September – nasturiums
  • October – purple sages and pink asters, fiery red liquidamber

For more information visit claude-monet-giverny.fr

Disclaimer: Kerry Heaney travelled to Monet’s Garden as a guest of Trafalgar on a Trafalgar Insider tour