Travel can be unpredictable: sometimes destinations you’ve hyped in your mind let you down, and other times destinations you hadn’t previously given a second thought to make you completely fall in love. But there is a third, far smaller category of travel – those places that you know, without a doubt, you will undoubtedly be obsessed with before you even step one foot there. Guess which type of place Giverny was?
As has become incredibly evident over the years on this blog, I am obsessed with flowers, whether they be the vast fields of tulips at the Keukenhof, the fresh bundles at stalls run by boisterous flower mongers at Columbia Road Market, or the orchids at NYBG’s annual flower show. And so I knew, sight unseen, that I would adore the gardens at Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and inspiration for over forty years.
Giverny is roughly divided into two parts: the Japanese water garden (home to Monet’s famous waterlilies) and Clos Normand, the garden in front of Monet’s bright pink house. We started with the Japanese water garden, which was nothing short of dreamy. The ponds itself were gorgeous, but I particularly loved all the weeping willows, as they added an even more ethereal air to the space.
At Clos Normand, the gardens were bright and beautiful and – when we visited – packed full of tulips. I loved seeing all the rows and rows of flowers; something about the sheer scale here was just so impressive.
We also popped inside Monet’s house but, in truth, this was a frazzling experience. The house is lovely, with brightly painted rooms that I would normally obsess over, but on the day we visited, it was downright packed. Between the stifling heat and the frustrating crowds, we made as quick a loop as we could manage and hightailed it out of there. Better to be in the open air with the flowers anyway!
The Bottom Line: If you love flowers, Monet’s Giverny is a can’t miss swoonfest. One warning: the crowds can be oppressive and dispiriting, so go as early as possible, and brace yourself. Even with this inconvenience, however, I would still enthusiastically recommend the trip.