The Monet Foundation is the ultimate destination for a springtime day trip. Immerse yourself in the gorgeous landscapes that inspired Claude Monet’s famous canvases, with a guided visit just one hour from Paris.
Claude Monet moved to Giverny on April 29, 1883, where he was surrounded by lush greenery that inspired some of his best-known paintings. Monet fell in love with the water lilies that sprang up in the ponds, offering him a beautiful, original setting, along with the weeping willow that rippled with the wind. With this lush countryside around him, the green-fingered Claude Monet tended to his surroundings until his death in December 1926. The painter was assisted by many gardeners, and together they succeeded in opening the Clos Normand and Water Garden, two extremely diverse gardens which inspired the vibrancy and luminosity of his artworks. Rose bushes, peonies, water lilies and geraniums contribute to the sensory and visual experience that awaits visitors, who are encouraged to explore the painter’s imagination through the gardens and into Claude Monet’s colorful family home. The dining room is illuminated by a sunny yellow, whilst the kitchen is all blue. You can even peek at the painter’s studio, transformed now into a room that houses copies of his most famous works.
With the passing years he developed a passion for botany, exchanging plants with his friends Clemenceau and Caillebotte. Always on the look-out for rare varieties, he bought young plants at great expense. “All my money goes into my garden,” he said. But also: “I am in raptures.”
The water garden
In 1893, ten years after his arrival at Giverny, Monet bought the piece of land neighbouring his property on the other side of the railway. It was crossed by a small brook, the Ru, which is a diversion of the Epte, a tributary of the Seine River. With the support of the prefecture, Monet had the first small pond dug ; even though his peasant neighbours were opposed. They were afraid that his strange plants would poison the water.
Later on the pond would be enlarged to its present day size. The water garden is full of asymmetries and curves. It is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly.
In this water garden you will find the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, other smaller bridges, weeping willows, a bamboo wood and above all the famous nympheas which bloom all summer long. The pond and the surrounding vegetation form an enclosure separated from the surrounding countryside.
Never before had a painter so shaped his subjects in nature before painting them. And so he created his works twice. Monet would find his inspiration in this water garden for more than twenty years. After the Japanese bridge series, he would devote himself to the giant decorations of the Orangerie.
Always looking for mist and transparencies, Monet would dedicate himself less to flowers than to reflections in water, a kind of inverted world transfigured by the liquid element.
500 000 visitors discover Monet’s gardens each year during the seven months that it is open.
To prevent people from treading on the plants, and thus retain the garden’s beauty, the inner alleys are closed to the public. Visitors walk on the side alleys and can walk all around the garden to admire all its perspectives.
To get to the water garden you go through an underground passage (at the time of Monet it was necessary to cross the railway and the road). You will step on the Japanese bridge and explore all the hidden recesses of the water garden.
Taking pictures is permitted in the garden, but only from the walkways. Picnics are forbidden. Dogs and other pets are not admitted.
Claude Monet Foundation
84 rue Claude Monet 27620 Giverny
Monet’s Gardens and House are now open for visitors everyday including bank holidays until November 1st / 9.30am – 6pm