Most tourist destinations, museums and businesses in France are closed on May 1st in honor of their National Labour Day holiday (Fête du premier mai). A bit of research, and advance planning helped me to structure a very memorable May day in Paris. My aunt and I spent the day exploring Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny. Spring season was a definitely a bonus; flowers blooming, clear sky, scattered white clouds and perfect temperature. We began our early morning journey from the famous Saint-Lazare station. Croissant and espresso in hand, we boarded the SNCF train to Vernon which took approximately 45 minutes, followed by a quick bus transfer from Vernon station to Giverny. Oui oui ~ we were there! I’d recommend taking a taxi from the train depot to avoid the crowds and lines with all the visitors arriving at the same time. Second tip, purchase entrance tickets to the garden online before you go so you can walk through the side gate entrances once you get there. The main house was amazing, 2 floors with faded peach exterior and green shutters, window frames and trim highlights. Each room inside, unique and colorful, reflecting Claude Monet’s preferences. Blue tiled kitchen, yellow dining room, light blue sitting room, pale green bedroom and a white wall art/ painting room. The gardens were crowded with visitors, but everyone was polite, alert and patient. Can you ever get tired of seeing too many flowers in one place? I don’t think so. The grounds and walkways were covered in tulips, poppies, blue forget-me-not, and other native spring perennials. Bursting colors and surprising combinations around every turn. The gardens are beautifully maintained and preserved. The famous Japanese bridge, bamboo grove, water lily pond are adjacent to the home & garden, and requires a short walk to get there. Once you get through the underground tunnel passage way, the pond and magical sounds of frogs captivates your interest. A path around the entire pond is accessible and most visitors leisurely walk around, counter clock wise. I was awestruck by the pond from different angles. An abundance of red and yellow tulips lined the shallow banks creating a frame to accent the cotton white clouds and baby blue sky reflections on the pond. The loud frog croaking noises were hypnotic, aggressive and amusing, I think it was mating season! I was inspired by our visit, traveling to new places awakens my spirit and inspires me to learn and create.
We left Vernon, returned to Paris and spent the late afternoon, early evening visiting the Eiffel tower, (open every day of the year). One of the elevators was disabled, so the lines were excessively long. I opted to hike up the stairs; shocking ~ there was no line to climb up! The trek straight up was fine, not that bad, really. Just stair-masters on steroids. Each platform has a great vantage point to look across Paris, locate the various historic landmarks and follow the winding seine river. The top lookout observation deck requires a short elevator lift, and the basic walking ticket includes this final portion once you get up there. Timing was perfect, we arrived at the top of the tower at sunset and watched the sun go down! The nightly light show extravaganza is also spectacular to see up close. The Eiffel tower is lit up with blinking-dancing lights for 10-15 minutes to mesmerize the tourists and remind the local Parisians, what a magical lovely city they live in.
(Paris -> Vernon -> Giverny -> Paris)
Giverny Claude Monet’s garden
Rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny France
Open daily: Hours: 9.30AM- 6.00PM Tickets: 9€
* Paris Saint-Lazare –> Vernon
* SNCF – Grandes Lignes exit. Rouen line departs from right side of platform, in ‘Grandes Lignes’ section.
* Vernon Giverny Bus Shuttles “TVS” Fare: €4 / Taxi €15.
Vernon –> Paris St. Lazare
Metro saint-Augustin and travel on line 9, direction Pont de Sèvre, to Trocadéro
Then walk through the central space platform of the Palais de Chaillot for an amazing view.
* Line 9, “Trocadéro” station
The Eiffel Tower
Hours: 9:30am-11pm Admission: €14
Lift entrance ticket with access to the Summit