The Gardens of Giverny

17:58 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

I was looking for something to fill our schedule with between Paris and Normandy, since we checked out of our hotel at noon and needed to drive down shortly after. Versaille wasn't quite on the way, but as I looked at the map I realised that Giverny & Monet's house were.

I remembered Giverny from my first trip to Europe. My teenage brain remembered the famed bridge (and a particular photo where I was what is now know as photobombed by a Japanese tourist) and the story of the eclectic painting in his house.

What I either didn't remember, or was different 15 years ago, was all the people. We showed up around 3 pm, thinking we'll spend an hour roaming before continuing further down the coast. We were greeted by a full car park and a nice long line waiting in front of Monet's House.

Ariel and I roamed the streets while the boys waited, at first thinking we'd take in some gorgeous sites and find cute gifts, then realising the number of people prohibited that and instead focusing on finding a toilet.  We waited in line for 30-40 minutes before finally getting tickets, meaning our time was more restricted as they shut down at 5:30.  Since we were on a tight schedule, we bypassed the gift shop you're first led into and darted straight out to the gardens.

It was the perfect time of year to go, at the beginning of May. All the flowers were in full bloom and I've never before seen a garden so full of color. All types of tulips (taking me back to the days of the Lale festivals in Istanbul), lillies and thousands of others I couldn't even begin to name. And despite the lines out front, it seem as if most were interested in the water lillies, because very few were taking time to wander the gardens.

After taking time to stop and smell the roses, we decided it was time to join the rest at the bridge. If you've seen Monet's paintings, you'll recognise the difference now.  While perhaps even more beautiful, the wisteria covered bridge isn't quite what you remember from Monet's famous paintings. Nonetheless, people were lining up for pictures to post under it's archs.

The water lilies weren't yet out, or had already died for the year, so we simply wandered around the ponds before making it back to Monet's house.

This was our final stop - and truth be told it isn't too exciting. There's lots of artwork, but none of Monet's as his is all on exhibit elsewhere. The rooms are crowded and colourful, perhaps my favourite being his kitchen. But after 10 minutes, you realise you've seen it all and are dumped back out by the gift shop.

We made a few gift purchases, before heading back to our car.  While the gardens were beautiful, I'm not sure if the real deal lived up to my memory.  If you're considering a day trip from Paris, a morning visit may be better (or in the off season versus the shoulder season), but my expectation of a quiet country retreat was overshadowed by the tour buses and thousands of tourists milling on the street.


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