Updated on 16 May 2023
Reading time: 5 minutes
Many would say that exploring on a bike is the most enjoyable and immersive way to experience a destination. Guided by Chloe, the two of us saddle up to explore Giverny at our own pace, this world-famous picturesque village in the Seine Valley. When life slows down to a gentle 15mph, we let our minds wander and we can fully enjoy the sights captured by impressionist master Claude Monet with all our senses. Off we go!
Cycling through an Impressionist painting
Whether you are an art enthusiast or a casual admirer, a 24-hour visit to Giverny opens your mind and imagination to a pleasurable experience, blending culture and relaxation. There is no better place than this iconic village of the Seine Valley, where Impressionist painters set up their easels at end of the 19th century, to understand these artists’ fascination with landscapes. Changing the course of art history forever, Claude Monet was one of the founders of Impressionism, working outdoor to capture the movements of light and shadow. No wonder he found inspiration in Giverny. On the day of our visit, the weather really put an emphasis on the contrasting colors of the sky and landscapes, allowing us to deeply appreciate all the facets of this art movement.
We are met by Chloe at the Vernon-Giverny train station (which is about an hour train ride away from Paris) and immediately jump on our bikes. Time to start our two wheeled adventure!
After crossing a bridge, we reach our first “heritage” spot. The Old Mill of Vernon makes us feel as though we have been transported back into early Normandy! This surprising half-timbered building suspended above the Seine River is a landmark often sketched by Impressionist painters, just like the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame we discover a little further on. After a few kilometers cycling on a dedicated Greenway, we finally arrive in Giverny. En route, our tour guide shares her knowledge of the area, an endless amount of captivating stories and personal anecdotes in an engaging and entertaining way. As a native of the region, her passion is to take visitors beyond the obvious to shed new light on the place she calls home.
In the footsteps of Claude Monet
Here we are in Giverny! We cycle along the main street of the village, Rue Claude Monet (of course!) lined with artists’ studios and art galleries. Several stops are planned on the itinerary to deepen our cultural connections to this special place in the Eure county and get a greater picture of the impressionist movement. We visit Claude Monet’s grave in the churchyard to pay homage to the great master. Along the way, the Ancien Hôtel Baudy is a must-see for the role it played hosting a big colony of burgeoning artists such as Renoir, Rodin, Sisley, Pissarro as well as many American painters. Chloe then takes us into the restaurant of the Hôtel Baudy to step back in time! We are astonished by the sight of a historic artist’s studio from 1887 featuring original furniture, accessories and art supplies!
Our guide’s thorough knowledge of Giverny contributes to a better understanding and appreciation of Impressionism. She explains “Monet lived in Giverny from 1883 to 1926. That is 43 years… half of his life. During this time, he became renowned for the several hundred paintings he made of his water lily garden in his beloved home in Giverny, which features the famous Japanese bridge.” Now we are itching to go and discover the garden he created as an essential source of his inspiration! We’re in luck: the house and gardens of Monet, now referred to as the Monet Foundation, is actually the next stop on our cycling tour!
We drop off our bikes before stepping into one of France’s most spectacular gardens! Once inside, in addition to Monet’s home, we explore two distinct gardens arranged according to his artistic sensibilities. Surrounding the house is the flower garden, called the Clos Normand. On the other side of the road, which was the former railway line (convenient for him to travel to Paris and promote his paintings), we marvel at the iconic Japanese-inspired water garden. Simply breathtaking!
An ENCHANTING GARDEN
The undisputed master of Impressionism saw things changed constantly and strove to paint the same subject several times, fluctuating with the seasons. His garden reflects these different moods and perspectives from spring to autumn. Chloe points out that “there are dominant flowers for each season. Right now, we’re at the end of the tulip season, with almost 200 varieties. Coming next is the blossom of daffodils, dahlias, and the celebrated water lilies.” What a challenge for gardeners to keep up with this vibrant, seasonal, thriving oasis of greenery! We’re already thinking of coming back in autumn to admire the colour palette of reds, oranges, yellows and golds!
It’s hard to beat the sense of magic that you get when you walk through Claude Monet’s house, which provides an intimate insight into the artist’s daily life. A fascinating visit!
As we were looking to experience a bit more than just a day in Giverny, we are staying overnight in La Musardière, a charming 3-star hotel which boasts a “bistronomic” restaurant serving local and creative food. This is where we part with Chloe and thank her for such an insightful day together! Giverny is definitely the ideal starting point for a trip in the footsteps of the Impressionists in Normandy and our adventure will continue tomorrow. Now it’s time to rest, relax and indulge in delicious regional cuisine.
From May to October, every day except Mondays.
From 180 € per person (based on 2 people).
The package includes :
*The visit of the gardens and house of Claude Monet
*Overnight stay in a double room for two people in a charming hotel*** or in a guest house
Electric bike rental for one day
1/2 day guiding by professional tour guide (120€)
GETTING THERE BY TRAIN
Vernon-Giverny train station is located:
– approx. 50 minutes by train from Paris Saint-Lazare station
– approx. 40 minutes by train from Rouen station
All of the above information is subject to change.