From early spring until fall, one of the most beautiful places to visit from Paris is Giverny and the Fondation Claude Monet, Monet’s former house and garden. A day trip to Giverny from Paris is easily doable, but I wanted to share a few extra tips for what to do and surrounding areas to see on your visit.
How To Get to Giverny from Paris
You can take a 45 minute train ride from Paris to Vernon and then catch a 15 minute shuttle bus from Vernon to Giverny. However, the drive from Paris is only a little over an hour and my preferred way to get to Giverny.
My first major Giverny tip is have a guide take you. For all of my day trips from Paris to Normandy (Giverny is in Normandy!), I work with an excellent guide who doubles as a driver. He knows absolutely everything about French history and culture and is incredibly entertaining. It’s always interesting to pick his brain about anything France – and there’s never a dull moment.
By taking a car (with a guide or on your own) you have a lot more flexibility timing wise and the opportunity to stop and explore different places along the way. Giverny is along the autoroute to Normandy, so you could tack it onto a drive to Rouen, Honfleur, or any of the D-Day Landing Beaches near Bayeux. The drive to the area around Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is a little bit longer, but a Giverny stop is still possible.
Visiting Monet’s House and Garden
On this particular visit, we had a very small window to visit without a lot of advance warning because of the Roland Garros schedule. We visited on a Saturday and couldn’t buy our tickets in advance. My second and third tips for visiting Giverny are don’t go on a weekend if possible and definitely buy your tickets in advance (or book a guide).
As you can imagine, a Saturday visit at the end of May was a popular idea. The line to even get inside the house and gardens was hours long, and we arrived in the morning. Our awesome guide worked his magic and got us into the garden without a wait. Without him there’s a 100% chance we wouldn’t have seen any of Monet’s garden or house (my French skills were pretty much nonexistent in 2017).
One way that France is very different from the US (in my opinion) is that something that seems absolutely impossible can very quickly become possible simply by saying the right thing. Our guide also talked us into Monet’s house to see the kitchen which of course was better than nothing.
The garden is more beautiful than I’d ever imagined and photos just don’t do it justice.
A Picnic by the Seine
On the way back to Paris we stopped in a boulangerie in Gasny to pick up some quiches and sandwiches for a little picnic by the Seine. There are lots of walking trails in the area around Giverny, and our guide knew just the right spot to stop for lunch. Because it was a Saturday in France we of course had to have a little champagne with our lunch!
Towns to See In-Between Giverny and Paris
On the way back to Paris we drove through several different small towns just to see and explore. From typical Normandy half-timbered houses to stunning churches, the region has it all. That’s one of the greatest parts about France, there’s charm everywhere, but especially so in smaller places.
All in all our day trip from Paris to Giverny took less than eight hours. By 6:00 PM I was back in Paris and on the terrasse of Le Voltaire with a glass of wine. I guess you could say I’m a creature of habit!
For more information on my favorite French guide or for help planning a future trip to Giverny and France, contact me here.