We visited the home of Impressionist painter Claude Monet and the gardens that inspired his famous Water Lily series.
We, like thousands of visitors each year, left the main sightseeing trail in Normandy to visit Giverny, this modest town in the Seine Valley. And ironically, there are no original works by Monet in the pretty pink-and-green house where he lived until his death in 1926. Plenty of prints and copies adorn the rooms, but it is the garden and the famous lily pond and bridge that lure the crowds.
Gardeners keep the scene as close as possible to the way things were in Monet’s day. The painter bought the house in 1895, having rented it as a family home since 1883. It was here that he painted the irises and lily pond scenes that were his final obsessions. You can see his walled garden ‘Le Clos Normand’ and the lily pond. A main road separates the gardens, but an underpass takes visitors safely to the pond. Wonderful though the gardens are, the sheer number of people means they are not a place for quiet contemplation. The art trail spills over onto the nearby streets, and rue Claude Monet is filled with artists’ workshops and galleries. The Musée d’Art Américain Giverny has works by Monet’s American contemporaries in France, as well as temporary exhibitions.
Our Top tips
Arrive early to see the lily pond without the crowds. Visit in early summer to see the gardens at their very best. Don’t miss the Hôtel Baudy, a former boarding house and bar in rue Claude Monet. It is where Monet met with Renoir, Sisley, Pisarro and Rodin and the American artists who followed them.
Visit this region, rich in his history and culture, and go camping in Normandy with help from I Spy Camping