Giverny, the cradle of impressionism

Stupefying acacia fragrance, lush, huge rhododendrons, thousands of flowers and plants shed their fragrance in Monet`s more than one-acre famous garden just 80 kilometers from Paris in Giverny.

The wonderful riverside town located at the border of Normandy is the cradle of Impressionism. This Seine-side village was the home of Monet, the world famous impressionist artist, in the second stage of his life who first spotted this fabulously beautiful scenery while looking out of the train window on his way to Paris. Monet was so impressed with the elusive beauty of the landscape that he bought a house and moved to Giverny and lived here for 43 years until his death. Claude Monet’s garden was just as artfully designed in reality as it was shown in his pictures. Most of his money was spent on his garden which was the subject of several of his paintings. Numerous paintings of the master were inspired by the beautifully decorated rooms and the harmony of the flowers in the garden. Monet`s water garden is famous for the water lilies, and the well-known Japanese bridge which are often displayed and well known from his paintings. The garden and Monet`s house can still be visited from May to September. This is the time of the year when the most beautiful flowers of the spring and summer blossom. And if we are in Giverny, besides the garden and the rooms in the house, it is definitely worth visiting the exhibition of impressionist paintings which is only a few meters away from Monet`s house.

Photo: Dóra M. Kovács

Photo: Dóra M. Kovács

Exploration of light

Monet began to paint outdoors influenced by Bouda. Light reflection is already demonstrated by his “Breakfast in the open air” picture. His paintings from 1866-1867 were already made in the spirit of En plein air preparing for the impressionism. Atmospheric effects are taken into consideration by the new painting method; shapes are broken, colour and light effects vibrate on the objects, shadows are colourful (Saint Germain I’ Auxerrois, La Grenouillére). Influenced by Turner, Monet turns to abstract painting. In Paris, he meets Renoir, Pissaro and Sisley and has an exhibition together with them at the first exhibition of the impressionists in 1874. The group is named after his picture, Impressionism (1872), Paris. The artist was most interested in capturing instantaneous color effects. The changes of the atmosphere in different times of the day were painted in his series (Saint-Lazare Station, Rouen Cathedral (1892-93). Landscape became his main genre: Haystacks (1890-91, Chicago), Water Lilies (1899-1926, Orangerie).


Monet was attracted by Vernon in the neighborhood which is still an ideal destination for tourists exploring Giverny. Despite the destruction of World War II, the old streets of Vernon still reveal a medieval atmosphere. The half-timbered houses with carved beams, wrought iron plates and the cobblestone roads are all common sights, revealed to us in this charming town. The long coastal walks along river Seine, lakeside picnics in picturesque environment with wonderful natural endowments offer perfect relaxation and revitalization to visitors.

Attractions in Vernon:

Collegiate Church Notre-Dame

The style is mostly Gothic. By the side of the elegant, narrow nave there is a beautiful set of contemporary stained-glass windows and a few ancient ones. The west façade of the church boasts a unique rose window in ‘flaming’ gothic style.

The Town Hall 

It was built at the end of the 19th century in the impressive neo-classical style. The city hall faces the collegiate church. The mayor who erected it took care to raise the bell tower higher then the church, because of the rivalry between religious and civil powers at that time.