The pretty village of Giverny in Normandy is located about 80 km to the south of Paris and was where Claude Monet famously lived, painted and gardened from 1883 to 1926.
Born in Paris on 14 November 1840, Monet became the leader founder of French impressionist painting. In fact the term impressionism came from the title of one of his paintings Impression, Sunrise. A critic intending a negative review called it impressionism and Monet liked the term and kept it and it was soon coined by him and other artists in the movement.
Monet travelled around France in his profession as a painter searching for inspiration looking for scenes to paint. He apparently saw the village of Giverny from a train window as it rattled past and liked what he saw so much he decided he would like to stay there for a while – he was sure that he would find something to paint there. He rented a house and ended up staying for several years, growing ever more attached to the village, the countryside from which he took inspiration and the garden which was to become an all-consuming passion.
Eventually, in 1890 Monet purchased the house he had been renting and lived there for the rest of his life. His paintings of his beloved garden with its water lilly ponds, the hanging aquatic vegetation, the bridge over the pond and wonderful floral bushes have become synonymous with the name Monet and his masterpieces are known throughout the world.
The house was bequeathed to the Académie des Beaux-Arts by his son Michel in 1966, some restoration has been carried out and its now possible for visitors to view Monet’s home, his studio and his wonderful gardens.
Cezanne said of Monet that he was “only an eye” adding “but what an eye” – it has become his epitaph.
What to see at Giverny
Visiting Monet’s garden at Giverny gives you the feeling that the artist just popped out to the shops for some more paint or a new paintbrush.
There are paintings hung on the wall the way he wanted them to be displayed, his easel and brushes are laid out, there are incompleted works that look as though when he returns from the shops he will carry on and finish them. The world famous gardens are a joy to behold and have inspired countless gardeners all over the world
When is the best time to visit Monet’s garden at Giverny
Monet’s house and garden are open to the public from April 1 to November 1 – this ensures that you will always see the garden in its glory and not in winter months of less bloom.
You can buy tickets on arrival but to save time and queueing you can also buy them online from the official Giverny website http://giverny.org in advance and print your e-ticket off (it costs a little extra but if you don’t want to queue its worth it.
Over 600,000 people visited Monet’s house and garden last year so you can expect to find it crowded at peak summer times (July and August) and weekends. If you go later in the day or early in the morning (E ticket admittance is a little after 9.00 a.m.) you may have chance of avoiding the worst of the crowds.
See the Fondation Monet website for details of ticket purchase and times of opening.