The golden afternoon light on the sunflowers…
The idyllic charms of the French countryside…
Come experience the magic of Monet’s home village of Giverny!
Note: I highly recommend that you read about my trip to Monet’s Garden first!
Claude Monet reportedly first caught sight of the small peaceful village of Giverny from a train window on a trip to Normandy. He fell in love with this area so much that he moved this family there in 1883 and stayed for the rest of his life until his death in 1926. It was in this French countryside area that he painted a number of his well-known works including countless works depicting family bliss with his wife Alice and family.
Recently, Ken and I had the opportunity to stay in Giverny while visiting Monet’s Garden. It was the start of our road trip through Normandy that included a magical visit to Mont Saint-Michel and a visit to the beautiful ruins of the Jumièges Abbey. And it was a wonderful start because we absolutely fell in love with Giverny the way that Monet fell in love with it.
While we enjoyed visiting Monet’s Garden and being transported into one of his famous paintings, our stay in Giverny was even more pleasant and enjoyable! We were able to really get a feel of the French countryside that he loved so much while exploring the village and staying in a renovated historic farmhouse located on spacious and beautifully landscaped grounds.
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Attractions in Giverny
Giverny is a small but special village, full of quintessential French countryside charm, plus the added significance of being the home of one of the world’s most famous and most talented artists. It’s amazing to wander around the village and visit the same places that he and his family, along with other notable artists of his time, often frequented. Here are some of the most notable attractions in town:
Monet’s Garden – The famous house and where Monet lived for over 40 years, and the garden that he spent countless hours designing and building. This is where Monet painted his most famous works including the water lily series and the ones with the Japanese bridge. A must-visit when you’re in the area of course! Read about my visit to the garden and travel tips here!
Rue Claude-Monet – Giverny’s main street crosses the village and is appropriately named after the artist! It’s lined with artists’ studios and art galleries, and includes both the former Baudy hotel and Church of Giverny (see below).
Museum of Impressionism Giverny – The collection here focuses on all forms of impressionism, including works by American artists who studied and painted in Giverny. Exhibits here chronicle the influence of Giverny and the Seine Valley on the impressionist movement. The museum is just a few hundred yards from Monet’s house. Admissions is € 7.50 for adults.
The Church of Giverny (Église Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny) – This is the church where Claude Monet was married and where his family celebrated their religious events. Monet and his family are buried in the nearby cemetery. The church’s oldest section dates to the 11th century, but most of the structure dates to the 15th or 16th century. This church was restored in 2010.
Restaurant Baudy – Historic Hotel & Preserved Artist Studio
In the town center, we found a charming restaurant called Restaurant Baudy. Not only do they serve very good food with great service on a beautiful terrace, there’s a historic artist’s studio from 1887 in the rear that’s filled with period pieces from Monet’s time. It was like we stepped back in time as we explored all the original studio furnishings and artist supplies!
This was also the location of the Ancien Hôtel Baudy that was a famous host for many French and American painters. Per their website, it was frequented by many artists from Monet’s time, including Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, Rodin, and Mary Cassatt.
What a wonderful place for lunch or dinner or and a step back in time in the artist’s studio! I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!
Charming Historic Farmhouse B&B
In Giverny, we stayed in a wonderful B&B called La Dîme De Giverny (TripAdvisor reviews here). It’s a converted historic farmhouse that was recently voted one of the most beautiful hotels in France. Not only does it have incredibly beautiful and spacious grounds, it is very tastefully and wonderfully renovated, yet maintains many of the original building details throughout, such as original wood doors and windows that are full of character. There is even an ancient well in the courtyard.
We had the opportunity to speak with the owner/manager and it was fascinating to learn about the building’s history and past as a tithe barn house (more details below), and at the same time learn about the history of the area as well. This property was originally built in the 13th century!
Another thing I remember about our stay here is that it was the first time I tried the bath products from the amazing French brand Caudalie. I loved their shower gel and shampoo so much that I asked to purchase several bottles of each from the hotel!
As much as I loved staying here, I was also glad to have brought my multi-outlet travel adapter because, from experience, smaller hotels and B&Bs never seem to have enough electrical outlets. I was also glad to have brought my mini travel steamer iron (dual voltage of course) since this was our first stop and all my dresses were wrinkled from the long flight from San Francisco to Paris!
The hotel is located only 5 minutes from Monet’s Garden, and just a few minutes walk to the main area of town, but far enough removed to be utterly serene and peaceful.
Magical French Countryside Light
Instead of visiting Monet’s Garden the afternoon of our arrival, we decided to rest at the hotel instead and enjoy the beautiful grounds before heading to dinner. The golden light that afternoon was so lovely, especially as it softly illuminated the stone building and the patch of sunflowers that we found. And although it was already September, I found some very fragrant lavender next to the building, along with some charming grape vines covering parts of the walls.
Although the hotel was fully booked for that evening, we seemed to have the place to ourselves as we were able to arrange for an early check-in. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore and take some pictures of this beautiful and magical place! I felt truly immersed in the French countryside charm that inspired Monet for so long.
From Historic Barn to Hotel & Wedding Venue
According to the owner/manager, the building was originally a barn built in the 13th century to store the tithe (Dîme), a tax intended for the Catholic Church. Per the hotel website: “one tenth of all cattle and crop was taken from the farmers. The barn served to protect these harvests from the bad weather before they were redistributed to their beneficiary, the secular clergy of the Abbey of Saint-Ouen of Rouen. But with the fall of the Ancient Régime, during the Revolution, the barn lost its secular utility and was transformed into a farm building.”
After a period of neglect, the building was restored into a spacious family house in the early 20th century and expanded with a square tower that was likely used as an artist’s studio.
Today, it’s a popular hotel with five rooms and two cottages. It’s also a popular wedding venue and it is easy to see why, with the beautiful grounds, courtyard, and indoor reception area.
Getting to Giverny
There are several ways of getting to Giverny from Paris:
- Driving – It’s about 1.5 hours west of Paris by car.
- Joining a tour for a day trip from a tour company such as Viator, which has many group and private tours to Monet’s Garden from Paris.
- Taking the train from the Gare Saint Lazare in Paris to Gare de Vernon, then taking a shuttle from the station to Giverny.
Since we visited Giverny as part of our Normandy road trip, we rented a car and drove there ourselves. Our drive from the CDG airport was approximately 1.5 hours long, passing by the beautiful French countryside.
MY FAVORITE SOUVENIR FROM FRANCE!
I first tried this amazing shower gel from the French brand Caudalie at my hotel in Giverny near Monet’s Garden. I loved it so much that I bought four bottles from them and carried them around during my entire trip. Then I found out I can get more of the shower gel from Amazon when I run out! I love the delicate fragrance of white rose and pink peppercorn, and I also love that it contains 97% ingredients of natural origin.
mY cAMERA iNFORMATION
Most photos on this page were captured with the fantastic Nikon D750 (new model D780 here), using a Nikon 24-70 mm lens and a Nikon 50 mm f/1.4G Lens, and edited with Adobe Lightroom. The photo of the artist studio was taken with an iPhone. Read more about my photography equipment here.
My Normandy Travel posts
Make sure to check out the other posts from my Normandy travel series!
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