Giverny is only an hour’s train ride from Paris, but it feels like a one-hundred-year journey back in time. Vines slither down medieval buildings, lazy green streams meander through fields of cattle, and everything feels just a bit more innocent. If one of Snow White’s seven dwarves popped up behind a small, red roofed house, you’d only be surprised that the other dwarves weren’t with him. The small village, about 5 kilometers up the River Seine from the larger but still sleepy town of Vernon, is famous for hosting the beautiful house and gardens of the pathbreaking impressionist painter Claude Monet. At his home near the banks of the Seine, Monet spent the last forty years of his life tending to his garden and painting pastoral scenes and pictures of his coveted water lilies over and over again. Walking around the small village and the surrounding valley, it’s easy to see he became so obsessed. Here, we’ve prepared the perfect 48 hour itinerary for your Giverny tour.
Morning: Explore the town of Vernon
Wake up in Paris and have a leisurely breakfast of croissants and a baguette at any one of the city’s many bakeries (boulangeries). We recommend B H Boulanger-Patissier, on Rue de Poissonnières in the lively Goutte D’Or neighborhood, which serves up rich brioche and baguettes six days a week (closed on Mondays). Then, take the train from Paris to Giverny-Vernon, leaving from Paris St. Lazare. At the station, follow the signs for “Grands Lignes’” which will lead you to an area with automated kiosks where you can buy your tickets. Save time and trouble by buying a return trip at the same time.
Once you arrive in Giverny-Vernon, spend a few hours near the station exploring the town of Vernon, a less well known village that has all the charm of its nearby cousin with fewer crowds. Following the clearly marked signs from the station will quickly lead you to the main square, where every storefront seems to end in “erie” (Boulangerie, Patisserie, Boucherie, Fromagerie, Épicerie etc.) Before you do any more exploring, be sure to grab a quick lunch to work off that tough train ride, perhaps at Le Domino.
Lunch: Get a taste of culture at Le Domino
At the restaurant’s wide open veranda, servers drift comfortably between tables as old men chat over their morning coffee and strange French sausages. Vernon is a place to sit back and enjoy the country life, so if you want to get into the local culture, you should go where the residents have been eating for the past seventy years.
Afternoon: Visit Claude Monet’s House
After lunch, rent bikes from L’Arrivée de Giverny, a shop directly across from the station, and cruise along the beautiful path on the opposite side of the river all five miles to Giverny. Once you’re there, it’s time to visit Claude Monet’s House. Giverny is most famous for hosting the beautiful house and gardens of the path-breaking impressionist painter. At his home near the banks of the Seine, Monet spent the last forty years of his life tending to his garden and painting pastoral scenes and pictures of his coveted water lilies over and over again. Walking around the small village and the surrounding valley, its easy to see he became so obsessed.
Strolling around his quaint house, you’ll see see bright yellow rooms, a refurbished edition of his original studio, and a sunlit kitchen where he made his breakfasts. Outside in the garden, flourishing flowers seem to cover every square inch, and the Japanese bridges over his waterlily pond is so picturesque that you might want to sit down and paint it four-hundred times yourself.
Morning: Hike Route de Magny en Vexin
Wake up early, enjoy a bread-heavy breakfast from any of Vernon’s small patisseries, and get ready for your first big adventure of the day. On the opposite bank from Vernon, at the tip of one of the long ridges that frames the River Seine, juts a tall white cliff that is impossible to miss from anywhere in the small town. Like any imposing mountain, as soon as you see it, there’s nothing you’ll want to do but climb. Follow Route de Magny en Vexin up the ridge until you see a small dirt path on your right, then climb that until you reach a sharp left turn. Just off the road at that point, you’ll find yourself at the top of the cliff. Off the edge you receive a stunning view of the red-roofed town, and can look down the wide Seine for miles.
Afternoon: Visit the Museum of Impressionisms
After lunch, head back up the Seine for a visit to the Museum of Impressionisms to round off your Giverny tour. Just down the street from where the founding father of impressionism once worked, the small Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny houses a captivating collection of the artists’ work, describing the influences that affected him at various points in his career, and showing his paintings side by side with his contemporaries. Although the gallery is small, the light crowds and pastoral landscape surrounding the museum allow you to feel a touch of the peace Monet must have felt while blissfully sketching his ten-thousandth flower in Giverny.
Evening: Relax at Le Capuchine de Giverny
Finally, finish of the evening with a pleasant dinner at Le Capuchine de Giverny, where you can grab a fresh sandwhich on a lush green lawn while a man softly plays electric piano in the background. Then shed a tear as your reverse your Paris to Giverny trip, leave the rolling hills and blooming flowers behind, and return to the all-too-crowded City of Light.