Believe it or not, my daughter’s most anticipated activity when we visited France was going to Claude Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny. She loves art and learning about it so I knew during our trip we had to plan a visit.
Before we left for our trip, we did a unit study on Claude Monet so we could know a little bit more about him. Whether you homeschool or not, learning about where you are going is a great way to get children truly invested in where they are going. My daughter was able to spout out facts about Claude’s life, places that he lived and pictures that he painted. She was truly excited to see places she read about and that was such a highlight for Dave and I as parents. We read this book called, Who Was Claude Monet, and I bought these unit study worksheets from Teachers Pay Teachers.com. We also talked about impressionism, how it changed art and even tried our hand at painting. Not only did Addie learn a lot from these activities, I did too.
Giverny, France is a small village in Upper Normandy. It’s about 50 miles from Paris and only takes about an hour or so by car. The town itself is so quaint and hasn’t lost it’s old world charm. You can park for free across from Monet’s home and walk the streets and explore the little shops and cafes. What I recommend doing, is visiting the house and the gardens first thing in the morning when it opens. On the way to the gardens, we stopped at a small bakery and picked up a few goodies to tide us over until lunch. We arrived about 15 minutes before it opened and got in line. I had read that the gardens can really fill up in the afternoon, especially when the tour buses arrived and I wanted to get some good pictures without a ton of people in them. We spent about an hour and a half exploring the grounds. After we left, we enjoyed shopping around the village and had lunch at a friendly cafe nearby. It was the perfect half day activity before we drove on to our final destination for the week. The gardens are open from April to November from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m with the last admission at 5:30 p.m. If you prepurchase tickets, you can save a little bit of money – Adults are 10.20 euros and children 7 and over are 7.20 euros.
Visiting Monet’s home and gardens is separated into 3 sections. There’s the house, the flower garden in front of the house called the Clos Normand and the water garden across the street where the Japanese bridge is. Flowers are planted to bloom all year long. We visited in early April and while it was very beautiful, I can only imagine what waiting a month or two later into the blooming season would look like.
We loved touring the house and seeing all of the art work spread around. Our favorite part of the house, however, was the blue kitchen. It’s rumored that even though Claude Monet picked the color of the room he never ever stepped foot inside. I can’t imagine having a room in my house so beautiful and never going in. But it was kind of a random fun fact!
The land in the Clos Normand is divided into different flower beds and sections in front of the house. The flower beds were planted at different highths to create volume along with many different types of trees to fill up the space. Addie is standing in front of the middle walkway that is covered in iron archways where climbing roses grow.
After exploring the Clos Normand, we crossed the street via an underground tunnel to the water garden. This is where you’ll find the famous Japanese bridge that you can see in Claude Monet’s paintings. This area, is by far, the most beautiful on property. We loved walking the winding paths that went back and forth over a running stream.
Knowing how much Addie loves art, I wanted to surprise her with some art supplies to use while we were there. I thought she might be inspired being in a place that is so special to artists. She was thrilled to draw in a place that a famous artist once did. It’s a fun memory and a great souvenir to bring home that really costs nothing more than some paper and colored pencils. It’s something I will treasure forever.
We enjoyed our morning at Claude Monet’s garden and will always remember it. If you visit in early April, be sure to bundle up. It was very chilly and we actually went back to the car to get a blanket that I packed to cuddle up in. Arrive early if you want to get some great pictures, especially on the bridge, without people in them, and ask for the childrens guide when you buy your tickets. Addie was given a brochure that took you on a tour through the property with little games, questions and facts that go along with it.