Saturday, June 7, 2014


Sometimes you can't be choosy about when you visit a garden. The opportunity arises and you just have to take it. Such was the case when we arrived at the port of Le Havre, France, on our recent 14 night Transatlantic cruise. We had less than ten hours in port and it was my plan to take this opportunity to visit Monet's garden at Giverny. We would rent a car for the two hour drive and with this in mind we booked a car and I purchased the garden tickets on line. That would save us time waiting in line for tickets on an expected busy Saturday.

Torrential rain greeted us as the ship arrived in port and for a moment we just considered staying on the ship for the day. But it was only for a moment. Dressed in our rain suits we took a taxi to pick up the rental car (Europcar) and were soon on our way. It is a pretty straight run to Giverny. Take the road towards Rouen and then head towards Vernon. We crossed the Pont Clemenceau, over the Seine, in Vernon and followed the sign towards Giverny and into the parking lot. Judging by the cars and buses the rain was not putting anyone off.

The internet is such a wonderful resource when it comes to travel. I took advice on how to book, the route and also where the entry for ticket holders was located. We entered the garden in the bottom left hand corner and soon found ourselves in the flower garden, Clos Normand, named for the high walls which enclose the garden. The gardens in front of the house are comprised of long beds separated by gravel pathways. This is probably a little more formal than in Monet's day.

Whether because of the rain, although I suspect it is always this way, traffic is confined to just a couple of walkways which at times were very congested. Where foot traffic was not permitted it  was a bonus to be able to take photographs without people, although I would have liked to have been a little closer to the flowers.

The wide central pathway with rose arbors, which leads to Monet's house, was also closed. The photo makes one believe we are alone in the garden.

As you can see by David's attire was was still raining. We never go anywhere without the full rain suit, but for me holding an umbrella in one hand, to shield my camera, makes photography difficult.

The beds were filled with spring plantings; tulips, wallflowers, and many iris. A cottage garden style, but restrained by the pathways. Here is a selection of irises in bloom that day.

When Monet's bought the property in 1883 the current flower garden was an orchard but Monet removed the trees planting his favorite flowers. He was once heard to say, " All my money goes into my garden"

When we finally reached the house there was a long line to go inside so, waiting for the crowd to subside, we enjoyed the planting beds of tulips and forget-me-nots.

Then we headed into the gift store. I wonder what Monet would have thought about coasters, mugs, napkins, t-shirts and umbrellas, all bearing images of his iconic painting, 'bridge over a pond of water lilies'.

I took the opportunity to take photos of the images of Monet around the walls.

We then visited the house where no photography was allowed. Next the pond with water lilies. In Monet's day the road which separates the formal garden from the pond may not have even been paved. It was probably just a cart track which he crossed without problem. He likely never heard more than the clop of horses passing by, at least until cars came on the scene. Now they have created a tunnel under the road to get visitors safely across.

There was no pond on the land when Monet added this piece of land ten years after he came to Giverny. A small brook ran through the property and against the wishes of the villages but with permission from the local authorities he dug a small pond which he later enlarged. He had collected several Japanese prints from which came the idea to create his Japanese water garden.

The water lilies may not have been in bloom on this early May day but the wisteria, which Monet planted to grow over the Japanese bridge, was.

We left thinking that even on this rainy day the garden was as beautiful in spring as it must be when the roses and water lilies are in full bloom during the summer.
The village of Giverny is mostly taken over by restaurants and artist studios and the museum. It was lunch time but we decided we would rather go into the town of Vernon to find a local place to eat, which we did. We found a small bistro where we enjoyed a glass of wine and the plat du jour. A quick look around the town and we were on our way back towards the coast with plans to visit the town of Honfleur before returning to the ship.

Chateau des Tourelles, Vernon, on the banks for the Seine.

Le Vieux-Moulin, Vernon. The remains of the old bridge with mill house built in 1600.

Medieval house and parish church in the Place Barette, Vernon.
We now retraced our journey back, turning off to visit the 17th C fishing port of Honfleur with its half timbered buildings and quaint streets.

The sun was out and this town was bustling with tourists. We walked around the harbor and down the quaint narrow streets before returning to our car and heading back to Le Havre to re-join our ship. Tonight we would sail for our final destination Southampton, England. It had been a great day.


  1. Loved this post- What a treat to see this garden.Thanks.

  2. You two certainly know how to get the most out of your travels! Even though it was raining and there was a crowd, your pictures of Giverny turned out well. I hope I can get there one day. Thanks you sharing your tour!

  3. "All my money goes into my garden". Imagine - I have a little something in common with such a great artist! You two are such intrepid travelers - rain suits proving the point. Your photos were breathtaking "even" in the crowds on a rainy day. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  4. Wonderful tour, as usual.
    I do enjoy 'traveling with you two'.

  5. It's a shame it was raining, but so glad you got to go. It's beautiful!!
    And about the internet--yes, what an incredible resource. When I think of how easy that's made travel. How DID we do it before??????
    Have a wonderful day

  6. Wow! What a beautiful garden. Glad you got to enjoy it and share with us

  7. I went to Giverny a few years ago on my way home from a conference in France. I had the opposite weather situation: it was so sunny and hot that I actually got a bit sunburned (which I rarely do). I was there in the last week of June. I just looked at my pictures. It looks like daylilies, astilbe (?), fuschia, water lilies, and roses were in bloom.

  8. Thank you so much for your comment on my Giverny post! We were there next day, on the 11th, and it was sunny. As you, I like more structure in the garden, but the color therapy at Giverny is superb!