Today is my last Sunday in Paris so I’ve been busy taking final advantage of everything that there is on offer in the region. One of the trips I’ve been wanting to do all year was Giverny, Monet’s house in Normandy, but of course I had to wait for a beautiful spring day to see it at its best. And my second trip was Versailles, I’ve been there twice already but I really wanted to fully explore Marie Antoinette’s Trianon Palaces and farm, I’d never been so immersed in the gardens and did not want to wait however many years to have the easy opportunity again.
Both Giverny and Versailles are easy day trips from Paris. Giverny can be reached by commuter trains headed to Rouen from Gare Saint Lazare, which is conviently located right next to my house. Vernon is the nearest train stop to Giverny and is about forty minutes from Paris, from there you can walk/rent a bike/ or take the shuttle bus right to the village.
Tuesday was absolutely an absolutely gorgeous day, blue skies, fluffy clouds, and warm and sunny. Giverny is as it turns out, just as exactly as visually stunning as you would imagine, even the inevitable crowds can’t distract from the early spring beauty.
The gardens themselves aren’t that big and they spread across what in Monet’s day was a little path, and is now a decently sized road. Money had a little bridge over it, we have to use a path under the road. On the other side of this road is the water lily basin, a small stream, an island with a bamboo forest, and a view to a field where Monet kept his cows.
A panorama of the Waterlily basin. At either end are the Japanese bridges.
After we had soaked in the atmosphere of the gardens for a while, we used our joint admission tickets to visit the Impressionism museum in the village. It’s small and probably not worth a trip in and of itself, but had a special exhibit of early Degas works. Afterwards, we went up the hill behind the museum a little. I can’t swear it’s THE same hill, but the hill had the exact same wildflower composition of this painting.
So clearly it was a very nice day, and the lighting was spectacular. Selfie Time.
So in the end it was a very awesome trip, and if you are staying in Paris or Normandy in the high season then this is a spectacular, cheap and easy day trip to consider. The gardens themselves are open from 1 April to 1 November but obviously more spectacular in the spring/summer.
My second send-off day trip was on Saturday. Versailles is actually a small town within the limits of Paris’ metro system, granted the very edge of the RER C line, but that is important because it means that on the weekends when Paris is dezoned it costs nothing extra to get there, just one metro ticket or one NaviGo swipe.
Normally, the gardens are absolutely free to get into, the château itself is not free, and you should definitely book online before if you don’t want to wait for forever. But anyway, it’s the high season now, so every weekend until September there is a fee on the weekends because they play music throughout the gardens and run the fountains. It’s feels absolutely amazing to wander through the topiaries and the statues while Baroque music is flowing through the air.
But my main reason for going to Versailles this weekend was Marie Antoinette. As I mentioned before, I’ve been to Versailles before and I visited the Château and the close gardens. This time, I wanted to walk around the Grand Canal and explore Marie Antoinette’s escapes from court life: le hameau de la reine, and her farm.
Marie Antoinette had a miniature Normand village constructed on the grounds of the palace and it is still there and still full of animals today.
Still a great get-a-way today.
Marie Antoinette’s cows in a field.
Once you get past the start of the Grand Canal or off of the central line at all, the formal gardens give way to tree rows and open fields. At the same time, the tourists disappear as well the further you get from the Château, and they’re replaced by local joggers and bikers, pretty great spot to exercise honestly.
Not quite so formal over here.
To get away from the crowds does take a lot of walking though, I walked over twelve miles. You can rent bikes, row boats, and very slow gold carts though so that’s an option if you want to explore a little further but don’t want to walk quite so much.
So those were my last little trips in France and they get my highest recommendations if you’re looking for a good day trip. I’m really glad I took this time to soak in the country side. I hope I’ll have enough time this last week to soak up Paris a little bit more!
What’s your favorite type of place to say trip to?