Giverny is a commune of the Eure, in Normandy region, on the edge of Yvelines, in the Vexin natural region, 28 km east of Evreux.
The village is located on the right bank of the Seine, at its confluence with its affluent l'Epte, in a hilly landscape.
Already inhabited during Antiquity, living partly from viticulture in the Middle Ages, a Romanesque church was erected in the eleventh century.
However, the history of the town which today has about 500 inhabitants is upset in 1883 when the painter Claude Monet, who had discovered the village on the occasion of a train ride, is seduced by the landscape and decides to settle there. He first rented an old farmhouse, "La Maison du Pressoir", which he bought in 1890 and set up exceptional gardens that would be the main frame of his work. He even created a pond covered with water lilies and spanned by a Japanese bridge.
A few years later, other painters - especially American - settled and Giverny became alive even Monet a capital of art and in particular of Impressionism.
Claude Monet died in 1926 and is buried in the village. Today, Giverny and its museums attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and has become a cultural tourism landmark.
Before taking an interest in Monet, the Impressionist painters, their gardens and their works, a visit to Giverny can begin with the singular Sainte-Radegonde church, listed. Its oldest parts (11th century) are the apse in the shape of a semicircular vaulted cul-de-four and the south gable. The other parts of the church are from the 15th and 16th centuries. Note the aisles illuminated by Renaissance-style mullioned windows, the paneled vault of the nave, an octagonal turret at the level of the "north" wall and the bell tower between the nave and the choir. Inside, statues and stained glass windows are also worth a look.
Nearby, the dolmen called "Pierre de Sainte-Radegonde" attests to the age of human occupation in the region.
We then head towards the gardens and the house of Claude Monet, where the painter lived from 1883 to 1926 with his family. Now the Claude Monet Foundation, the visit includes an exhibition of Japanese prints, the artist's studio and above all the gardens which were his main source of inspiration during the last 35 years of his life. These gardens have been reconstructed identically. They break down into two parts. The "clos normand" on the one hand, in front of the house, which offers from spring to autumn a symphony of colors which change according to the plantations punctuating the seasons... Below, arranged thanks to a derivation of the Epte, place in the water garden, with the Japanese bridge, the wisteria, the pond and the water lilies whose grace Monet was able to represent with unparalleled brilliance. The entire property is classified as a Historic Monument and its exteriors are labeled Remarkable Garden. Open every day from mid-March to All Saints' Day. Admission: 5.50 and 9.50 euros. Information on +33 2 32 51 28 21. Reservation required for groups.
Logically, we move on to the Giverny impressionism museum, which presents the history and originality of this pictorial current which revolutionized modern art during the last quarter of the 19th century. The museum also evokes who were its precursors and its heirs. Each year, three temporary exhibitions punctuate the season from March to January, concerts are scheduled and workshops accessible to adults and children alike. Admission: 7 and 10 euros. Do not miss the magnificent outdoor museum garden, designed by architects and landscapers on a meadow overlooking the hill overlooking the village. The objective was to recreate a form of palette of colors symbolizing impressionism. Information on +33 2 32 51 94 65.
Finally, a break can then be envisaged at the old Hôtel Baudy, which has a magnificent rose garden, and which gladly welcomed painters staying in the village.
In a completely different register, opposite the town hall, the museum of natural mechanics can complete the visitors' programme. It presents a large collection of industrial or agricultural engines from around the world that three passionate brothers have brought together. All machines have been restored and are in working order. Open during school holidays and the rest of the year by appointment. Free admission. Information on +33 2 32 21 26 33.
For those who are not satiated by all these splendours, several hiking trails are available in the village or its immediate surroundings. A "cultural" route has been laid out in the town, a course more dedicated to the discovery of fauna and flora as well, not to mention the many possible walks in the hillsides... Documentation and information on +33 2 32 51 39 60.