October 18, 2013

Do You Know the Way to Monet's Gardens at Giverny?

Monet Gardens Giverny France by definingyourhome
The Grande Allée in Monet's Clos Normand.
Giverny, France. September 2013
In Paris, the weather is anything but predictable, but you cannot wait around for a sunny day. So it was with umbrellas and raincoats that my husband and two friends left our apartments in the Marais neighborhood and descended into the Saint-Paul Métro station at seven that September morning. Destination: Giverny.

Switching once at the Châtelet métro (but we prefer to switch at Concorde), we traveled to the regional train station, Gare Saint Lazare. There, we purchased roundtrip SNCF tickets on the Rouen-bound train. Before boarding, we validated our tickets in the yellow boxes on the platforms. If you don't validate, you'll have to pay the conductor a fine when he comes around to check tickets.

After forty-minutes in our comfortable second class seats, we descended onto the platform at Vernon. Since there were four of us, we climbed into a taxi (instead of the buses) destined for the nearby village of Giverny. Minutes later, we were the first ones in the door at 9:30 a.m.

Easy—because I'm familiar with Paris and have been to Giverny. (Our friends later called me a Garmin GPS). Although it can be daunting to find your way to Giverny without a guide, you can go without a tour group.

Here are some tips to help you find your way, but remember to double-check all information before you go as anything can change.

SNCF Train Schedules
You can search for Paris to Vernon on the SNCF train website. Once you decide what time you want to depart Paris, plan how much métro (or taxi) time you need to get to Gare Saint Lazare. Allow another twenty minutes to get to the platform and purchase a ticket.

You don't need to purchase these train tickets online.

Paris Métro Map
Find the métro line closest to your hotel/apartment in Paris. You may have to switch trains to get on a line that goes to Saint Lazare.

Saint Lazare Train Station
From the métro—go up, up, up to the Grandes Lignes arrival and departure platforms (accès aux quais).

If you're not experienced with the ticket machines, go to the window and buy a round-trip (retour) ticket (billet) to Vernon on the SNCF train headed toward Rouen. For the forty-minute trip, a 2nd class train car is quite comfortable. No seat assignment is made for 2nd class. Choose an empty seat.

Make sure you get a train schedule when you buy the ticket so that you'll know what time to return to Paris.

France uses a twenty-four hour clock, so if you want to leave Monet's Gardens in the afternoon, add twelve hours. For example, 4:20 p.m. will show as16h20 on the ticket.

Once you have your ticket for Vernon, watch for departure  (départ) times on the big lighted overhead boards. You want the DIRECT train bound for Rouen with a travel time of 00h44 (forty-four minutes).

When a track (voie) number shows on the marquis, go to the bright yellow box at the beginning of that track and insert your ticket. Once validated, find a coach car for 2nd class and board.

Forty-minutes later, get off at the village of Vernon.

Outside and to the right of the train station, there will be buses waiting to take tourists directly to the nearby village of Giverny, where you'll find Monet's Gardens.

The buses park down the hill, across the road from the village, so it will take 5+ minutes to walk to the admissions door at Monet's Gardens.

Fondation Claude Monet
Located in the small village of Giverny, accessible from the town of Vernon.
Open April 1 until November 1
9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
9 euros for adult admission

You'll go through the gift shop first, so pick up a map of the gardens at the ticket window so you can find your way around. Just outside the gift shop, you'll find restrooms.

You cannot picnic in the gardens and there is no place to eat. Your ticket is valid until you exit. You cannot reenter on the same ticket. Once you've left the gardens, you can find several places to dine in the village.

When you're ready to leave, return to the bus parking lot at least 30 minutes before time to catch your train to Paris.

Once you are back at the Vernon train station, find the yellow box to validate your return ticket.

Enjoy your excursion!

Next post...the gardens.

In May 2009, my husband and I visited Monet's Gardens for the first time. Even though we've been to France every year since, it wasn't until September 2013 that we returned to Giverny. On this visit, we showed Southern Living writer, "The Grumpy Gardener" and his wife the way to this gardening mecca.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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Paris, France; September 2013

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