An Afternoon at Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France

Claude Monet Garden Giverny Visit 2

Artist Claude Monet’s name is synonymous with his dreamlike paintings which were inspired by his graceful gardens in Giverny, France, where he lived for 43 years. In 1980, his home and garden were opened to the public allowing Monet’s canvases to come to life. Today, visitors to Giverny can see the hunter green Japanese-style footbridge that spans the property’s small pond, as well as clusters of water lilies wearing faint pink flowers, and pathways studded with clusters of vibrant blooms.

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Earlier this summer, while traveling from Normandy’s D-Day commemorations to Paris, we set out to explore Giverny. Though Monet’s gardens had been relatively calm during my previous spring and summer visits, it was bustling this year, leading us to share the pretty pathways with hurried international visitors from around the world. We found it challenging trying to capture the irises, roses, daisies and peonies on film without inadvertently capturing someone with a poised iPhone or camera. As we strolled the crowded lanes, I imagined what Monet would think of all the attention being given to his once-serene garden.

Giverny, which is just over one hour’s drive from Paris, first caught Monet’s eye from a train window. It’s said that the Impressionist artist was so taken by the town that he vowed to one day live there. In 1883 he did, and seven years later, he’d scrounged together enough funds to purchase a home and a plot of land, on which he dreamed of creating a vibrant garden that could serve as an ever-changing subject for his paintings.

Though Claude Monet’s paintings are now appreciated worldwide – with some having fetched more than $85 million at auction – his work was not always so well-received. When Monet and his Impressionist contemporaries debuted their paintings in the 1870s, they were met with severe criticism from conventional French critics. Their dreamy landscapes and still life works contrasted sharply with the more somber historical and religious subjects and portraits that were highly respected at the time. Traditionalists were also shocked that the Impressionists sometimes completed their paintings outdoors, instead of inside studios.

In the late 1800s, Impressionist painters from the United States settled in Giverny, drawn by the village’s ambience, and the possibility to work closer to the Impressionist master. Monet remained in Giverny until his death in 1926. Today, his spirit lives on through his masterful paintings and musings, some of which are shared below.

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“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.”
― Claude Monet

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Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny05

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
― Claude Monet

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“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”
― Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny01 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny02

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”
― Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny28

“The more I live, the more I regret how little I know”

― Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny06

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny19

“I’m not performing miracles, I’m using up and wasting a lot of paint…”
― Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny04 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny10

“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”
― Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny08

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“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”
― Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny37

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“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration. ”
― Claude Monet

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Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny07

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny40

“Every day I discover
more and more
beautiful things.
It’s enough to drive one mad.
I have such a desire
to do everything,
my head is bursting with it.”
― Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny24 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny57 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny30 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny32

“No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.”
-Claude Monet

Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny42 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny53 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny61 Claude Monet Garden Visit Giverny33

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • Be sure to check the Claude Monet Foundation website to ensure Monet’s home and gardens will be open when you hope to visit.
  • Though it’s hard to get lost in the gardens, peruse this map in advance to get a better feel for the property or scope out spots to take photographs.

Photography & text © by Tricia A. Mitchell . All Rights Reserved.

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89 Comments on “An Afternoon at Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France

  1. Breathtaking beauty – thank you for these Tricia, now I can understand THE MAN AND HIS ART much better, feel closer to him, an intimate feel …

    • Ina, the gardens are magnificent, aren’t they? On a rainy day like today, seeing all those flowers cheers me up.

      The inside of Monet’s home is also very pleasing. I was impressed by how eclectic the interior is, with a substantial collection of Japanese prints in one room, and vibrant colors throughout.

    • Thank you for your comment, Cynthia. Monet’s artwork is well known, but his words less so. I hoped that by interspersing them with images of his garden that we could get a better feel for what inspired his brilliant work.

    • Laura, we’re actually back in Bavaria for a while. Are you still in the UK or enjoying the summer here? Oberammergau has had a few fun activities lately (the König-Ludwig-Feuer, and a traditional dance festival). Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the sunshine returns. :)

      • We are in Bavaria too, although we hope to escape to Gozo in a few weeks time for a holiday. The sun should be back here this week, I hope! I can feel winter in the air already!

      • Lucky you to be Malta bound soon, although gloriously-sunny days like today make it a delight to be in Oberammergau and Bavaria. Do keep me posted when you get back from Malta, as it would be fun to meet up. :)

      • Yes certainly, we’re back mid-late September so hopefully we can meet up sometime after then. Until then, Servus!

    • Interesting, Andrew – I didn’t know that Giverny was open to the public in the ’70s. We first went around 1993, and I sense that it’s become much more of a tourist hot spot since then. Still, it’s very much worth a visit. :)

      • That’s an interesting point. I have looked it up and it says that it opened to the public in 1980. I was on a town twinning exchange so perhaps it was open for private viewing and I am curious now.
        The thing that I remember most were the climbing nasturtiums and the lily pond, I didn’t care too much for his collection of Chinese paintings and ceramics.

    • I was impressed that the vibrance of the gardens and home came through despite it being an overcast day, Mark. It’s certainly an uplifting place.

  2. Excellent post. Your photos have captured that dreamy quality…and I like the musings you added. My favorite is “The more I live, the more I regret how little I know.” Thanks for sharing this lovely and peaceful place.

  3. It’s our Silver Wedding next August. It’s never easy to get my husband to consider anywhere other than Tavira, but I might just pull this off… wish me luck! :)

    • With either Tavira or France as your Silver Wedding anniversary destination, it sounds like you’re headed somewhere beautiful, Jo. Could you possibly combine a visit to Giverny with some time in Paris, Normandy, or the Loire Valley? (And those places are just the tip of the iceberg in France!)

      • It’s taken me a while to come back, Tricia. I bet you don’t even remember this comment. I didn’t! :)
        We have 5 nights in Paris and will be going to Versailles (on Sunday, so that the fountains are working) and Giverny, by train.
        Your photos are just as delicious as ever :)

      • Jo, it is easy for digital conversations to fall through the cracks, isn’t it? :)

        I’m so happy to hear that your anniversary trip to Paris is materializing after all! Looking forward to reading about your Versailles and Giverny adventures. (We happened to arrive at Versailles on one of those days when the fountains were turned off. Nevertheless, we had a fabulous time strolling the gardens.)

      • Thanks, Tricia :) Still not sure where you are currently but I’ve loved your posts on Croatia. Seriously bad for my itchy feet!

      • Jo, we’re in Bulgaria for the foreseeable future, and enjoying watching life in this village and mingling with the friendly locals. Last night we saw cows being herded up the streets at sunset and farmers transporting hay in horse-drawn carts. The surrounding countryside and forests are also quite beautiful and we’re eager to explore them!

  4. What a dream Tricia. How achingly beautiful. All that is wonderful about Giverny you have captured in breathtaking photographs. An afternoon in Giverny – possibly the most beautiful words in the English language.

    • Many thanks, Virginia. With your love of gardening, art, and all things French, did you visit Giverny when you went to Paris? It’s long been one of my mother’s favorite places. (Like you, she has a green thumb.)

      • My daughter and I planned a trip to Giverny. Unfortunately we never made it. My daughter was a Master Gardener and just two credits short of graduating from Guelph Agriculture College. She loved Giverny. Virginia

      • Virginia, how special that you both shared a love of gardening. You must think of her whenever you see nature’s beauty at work. Did she help you design some of your home’s outdoor spaces?

      • She didn’t design anything, but Roxanne gave very good advice. Don’t fight the rabbits in your flower garden – plant what they wont nibble away. It worked. I was no longer frustrated, and learned to love the little furry bundles… EXCEPT in the vegetable garden. Fenced that all around otherwise we would have had nothing. V.

      • Virginia, sounds as if you have many happy bunnies, as a result of Roxanne’s sage advice. It’s refreshing to hear of people finding natural remedies to gardening challenges. My parents are now trying to tame their new yard in Germany; at the moment, they’re battling stubborn weeds in between the patio cobblestones that surround the home. We’ve tested boiling water in spots, and have seen that some of the locals burn the weeds away with propane torches. Have you found any natural remedies for this?

        How large is your veggie garden?

      • A little salt and water sprinkled in the cobblestone cracks kills weeds permanently. We had the same problem here Tricia. Our veggie garden is 20 feet by 50 feet. The other day we took out the last of the bush beans. We planted every two weeks for about two months. Sad to see them go. We still have pole beans though. I The last couple of days the marine fog has been rolling in cross the fields. A sure sign of the end of summer. XX V.

      • Virginia, thank you for sharing your gardening pointer. I’d heard of using salt or vinegar before, but wasn’t sure how effective it’d be. I love the natural approaches.

        Enjoy the last days of summer! We’re hoping to find an apple orchard in the region, and just harvested some plums / mirabelle plums last week. Now, to find some good recipes. :)

  5. Most beautiful post Tricia, love the quotes along with your beautiful images. I was in Giverny on my 18th birthday, hmm a while ago LOL, I remember it as the most beautiful garden…..! Sending you some sunshine if needed, over the ocean to lovely Bavaria, Servus!

    • What a splendid place to ring in your 18th year, Cornelia! Yes, we could certainly use some California sunshine today. It’s a soggy but green paradise in Oberammergau. :)

  6. Superbes photos qui nous transportent vers une douce rêverie impressionniste et qui nous plongent dans le monde enchanteur de C. Monet ! Tu as du sans doute ,Tricia , aller voir la salle des nymphéas de C. Monet au musée de l’Orangerie à Paris que j’ai beaucoup appréciée lors de mon dernier séjour parisien ! Bravo l’artiste !

    • Merci, Claudine. Je viens de trouver ton message ici. Maintenant je ne suis pas certaine si nous avons visité le Musée de l’Orangerie. Nous nous sommes posé la même question au cours de notre dernière visite à Paris. C’est une autre excuse pour revenir!

  7. Trish, Very nice article (Oops, I mean ‘Post’). Gotta get the lingo correct here. Your pics portray an even nicer Giverny than I remember when we visited in the early 2000s. Love, Dad

    • Dad, remember we were actually here in the mid-90s (summertime) and also in March? As I look back, I think I most fondly remember the March visit since it was rather quiet then. I remember the tulips were at their peak. You’ll have to bring Mom back for a return visit soon!

    • I’m with you, Carol. I was once there in March, and it was delightful seeing the tulips and other spring flowers just emerging. It would be equally beautiful, I suspect, to see Monet’s gardens donning autumnal hues or dressed in snow. Was it extremely crowded during your visit earlier this summer? We visited in June.

      • It wasn’t this summer Tricia, it was 2008, and yes it was very crowded. We managed to avoid the crowds by going to the lily pond first. It was also very hot the day we visited.

  8. Have wanted to see this garden for a long time but haven’t yet made it. Thank you for bringing it to my computer with your delightful photographs. I can almost smell the garden.

    • Dorothy, I’m glad you were able to virtually travel to Giverny via the pictures. On rainy days like we’ve been having in Germany this past week, it sure is nice to escape to such beautiful gardens by revisiting these images. :) Wish you a splendid day, and here’s hoping you’ll make it to Giverny someday soon. Have you been to France?

  9. Tricia, what a beautiful post. It is raining here as it has for days on end and this cheers me up. Monet was an artistic, creative, genius and your quotes support that. I have never been to France and that is high on my list as well as this beautiful garden. You captured the gardens well considering you encountered so many visitors that day.

    • Lynne, I composed the post on a gloomy day with similar weather to what you described, and seeing all the flowers had the same pleasant effect on me. Thanks for your kind words.

      When I think of it, some of my favorite excursions in France have involved gardens. When you get to France, do consider spending a few days in the Loire Valley. We thought we were going to have ‘castle overload’ but visited just a handful of castles and chose a blend based upon their unique offerings (Leonardo da Vinci’s retirement home / castle where many of his inventions have been brought to life, Villandry with its incredible traditional gardens and herb garden, and Azay-le-Rideau and its quirky sound and light show).

      On a side note, Shawn and I just saw an interesting BBC documentary on life in Cuba following some of its reforms. It made me think of you and Ron, since you’ve just visited there.

      • I’ll have to see if I can track down the documentary. Even traveling to Cuba doesn’t give one the complete picture. Thanks for the travel suggestions in France. I agree that fewer well selected choices is better than the hit and miss or seeing them all and not really enjoying it. Sounds like you and Shawn really do your homework.

      • We do a bit of research before reaching a spot, but also let serendipitous moments happen. :) I love that part of travel.

        Wish you a wonderful weekend!

  10. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures. It must have been awesome to be there and surrounded by such beauty as well as the accompanying aromas.

    • My pleasure, Gerard. I suppose you could compare visiting the home of a person with a brilliant mind or talent to reading his/her autobiography. By going to Giverny, I loved imagining what inspired Monet. Perhaps you can visit the next time you’re in France? :)

  11. Oh Tricia, A place I’ve always wanted to visit. You captured it beautifully, and I’m so glad you included Monet’s quotes. You’ve added another travel destination to my must-see list. Thanks. ~Terri

    • Terri, I think it’s important to keep a must-see / must-learn list ever growing, so I’m glad this post contributed an addition to yours. :) You must be leaving for your trip soon? Which country will you visit first?

  12. Thank you for sharing, Tricia! Claude Monet has always been a favorite of mine — how wonderful to be able to see his paintings in real life! :)

    • Greetings, Neely! Monet’s long been a favorite of mine as well, so it was delightful and insightful seeing the home and gardens that inspired him to create.

      Speaking of creating, I’ve been drawing inspiration from your sophisticated site’s layout. (I recently changed themes to Widely, as I was looking for a design that is responsive for mobile users. There have been some kinks to overcome during the transition, but I’m pretty happy with the new theme.)

  13. There, in the gardens, you recive the perfect inspiration to write too…
    Congratulations for the photos! It was since a bit I didn’t take “a tour of friends’ blogs”
    since Time is my worst antagonist, dear Tricia. See you soon, and I hope that you’ll want to read the Annwyn’s Secret in English (even if is far away to be a perfect tradution, you’ll get the sense of the whole story anyhow)….
    :-Dclaudine

    • Claudine, I could certainly find inspiration in such a setting, Claudine, less all the other visitors in Monet’s now-hectic garden. :)

      I agree that time has a way of just slipping away. At the moment we’re busy launching our communications business (which helps international businesses with their English content) but when that slows down I’d be happy to read your book.

      I hope you and your family enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    • Rachael, as such a talented photographer, you would probably be in heaven at Giverny. I can only imagine what delightful macro shots you would create there. I’m still hoping to make it there in all four seasons someday. So far, I’ve just experienced spring and summer.

    • Sartenada, glad you enjoyed the virtual stroll through Giverny. During what season were you there? For an unusual twist, I would like to see it in winter. I imagine that the Japanese Bridge would look very pretty dressed in snow.

    • Sylvia, happy to hear that you enjoyed this glimpse into Monet’s garden! Are you now in South Africa or Florida? Perhaps you can take a very large detour there the next time you’re moving between your two homes? :)

  14. I had to beg to go to Giverney, but when the architect got there , he loved it too. The color, flowers, the casement windows. We also enjoyed that Monet decorated his house not with his own work but pieces from Japan!

  15. Reblogged this on THE WRITE PLACE… and commented:
    I can’t travel everywhere that I would like to, nor can I take you along on my travels. What I can do is share a bit of Tricia’s travels with you. This is an older post, but spring in western Washington seems like a perfect time to spend “An Afternoon At Claude Monet’s Garden…” with Tricia. Here is a Monet quote that I feel to my core,
    “Every day I discover
    more and more
    beautiful things.
    It’s enough to drive one mad.
    I have such a desire
    to do everything,
    my head is bursting with it.”
    ― Claude Monet

  16. Absolutely beautiful! I have been reblogging and sharing your site all over today. Somehow, your blog fell from my reader and I just found you again! Thank goodness.

      • We finally made it to Washington State for the first time two years ago, as part of a cross-continent road trip. We enjoyed Seattle – it had a bit of a European feel to it, and I’d love a bouquet of flowers from the fresh market today. Those were some of the most beautiful blooms I’ve seen. :)

      • It is a beautiful state and I would love a bouquet of those Market flowers too! Happy travels :)

  17. Pingback: Visiting Monet’s Gardens | A to Z France Facts

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