Last weekend Dieter and I jumped into the car for a mini roadtrip to France, and we had a good reason. When I was about 12 years old I developed an obsession with the work of Claude Monet, and had a big poster of the Nymphéas next to my bed. Just in case you needed proof of that, I found a terribly glossy analogue picture of my room from circa 2001, including my cat Flurk (who passed away only last year) and he was definitely not supposed to be on my bed (sorry mom). Behold my kitschy room that I decorated myself, with the pièce de résistance being the purple wall colour to resemble Monica’s apartment in Friends. Phew.
Since then, I have always wanted to visit Monet’s home and gardens but somehow it never happened even though Giverny is about a 4 hour drive from Antwerp, so you can imagine that I was pretty happy to finally be there after 15 years. And I must say that even though it was pretty crowded (and I do not like crowds), it was so beautiful and lived up to all my expectations. I was very much looking forward to the wisteria above the Japanese bridge being in full bloom in the water garden. The flower garden was equally beautiful, bursting with colours from different kinds of flowers, but in my opinion the tulips in front of the house were the most beautiful part here.
Some practical tips if you’re plannig a trip to the gardens:
* May is a beautiful time to visit. Like I said the wisteria is in full bloom, as well as the flower garden (No waterlilies though.) But keep in mind the rest of the world knows this as well. Go on a week day if you can, we visited during a long weekend and there were about 5000 people a day who had the same idea.
* Make sure you arrive early. What we did is book an e-ticket and spend the night before in Giverny so we could be at the gardens first thing. When you have an e-ticket, you can skip the queu and enter via a seperate entrance at the back of the garden. When we were there, groups were already arriving by bus before the garden had opened.
* I advise you to go to the water garden first, you can reach it via an underground passage in the back of the garden (right from where you enter). These precious minutes were our favourite, because we had a few moments to ourselves to see the garden, take a picture on the Japanese bridge etc…
*Giverny itself doesn’t have much to offer besides the house and gardens. We stayed at a Chambre d’hôtes called Le Coin des Artistes, which was clean and friendly and had a good breakfast (but a bit of an odd interior). If your budget allows it and you’re keen on staying in Giverny, check out Le Jardin des Plumes. Otherwise I would advise you to maybe check out Vernon, about 5km away.
*Giverny has no ATM (yes, you read that right). Bring cash.
And now I’ll just let the images do the talking, if you have any more questions for me, give me a shout in the comments!