When we think of France we like to think about the iconic figures: The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or the Beaches of Nice. I experienced France…well Paris…for the first time at the mere age of 12. It was full of tacky t-shirts and Disneyland Paris. When I decided my return this past spring, the authentic side of France was calling me. Evidently, the town of Giverny was not only convenient to access, but also brought to life the France I wanted to see.
Known as the town home to the famous impressionist, Claude Monet, Giverny is an absolute delight to visit. Within the town, sits Monet’s original home, and his famous Lily Pond. Most of Monet’s work you’d find in the Musée du Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay, are in fact paintings of the pond itself.
Being a small town of little population, Giverny keeps its genuineness by avoiding the “touristy” ambiance. I spent all day in Giverny and felt like I was one of the locals. The town keeps its old-town feel with limestone buildings that are decorated with lush, fragrant hanging baskets and crawling ivy. Having visited the town during the spring, the smell of rich peony’s filled the air. When you enter the little shops, the storekeepers don’t greet you with a “hello,” but instead, a casual “bonjour.”
I arrived to Giverny in the early morning. Getting there around 9:00 am allowed me to enjoy the gardens peacefully. The Lily Pond is exquisite, perfectly manicured and alive as ever. It’s basically everything you’d imagine. Monet’s home was just as beautiful as were his gardens. The garden is made up of rows upon rows of flowers. I spent a good 40 minutes slowly pacing up and down the paths. It’s incredibly well-kept and allows your imagination to linger. It only made me realize how truly awful I am at gardening.
Across the way, make sure to stop by and visit the Impressionist Museum. It’s a real treat, and I think it’s completely underestimated. It may not display the “famous, well-known paintings,” but they do display other impressionist’s work; artists you may not be familiar with.
Escape out of busy Paris for a day, and take the train to this magical town. Turn back the clock and experience this town exactly how Claude Monet did. From May to July is the best time to visit, as the flowers are in full bloom. Don’t forget to bring your camera and a creative imagination – you won’t be disappointed.
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