Get out of Town to Giverny

In Giverny, just about an hour from Paris, the Museum of Impressionisms with the support of the Musée d’Orsay has organized a 10th anniversary painting exhibition entitled Monet-Auburtin, An Artistic Encounter to celebrate the work of Claude Monet (1840–1926) by interweaving it with that of the painter Jean Francis Auburtin (1866-1930). This exhibition is a very good reason to finally get out of town to Giverny or to make a return visit, but it closes 14 July, so jump on the train now! But don’t fret if you can’t go this week a new exhibition of paintings by Ker-Xavier Roussel promises to be colorful and dreamy starting on 27 July, see below.

Monet-Auburtin, An Artistic Encounter

Giverny Monet

Impressed by Monet’s work, which was exhibited regularly in Paris around 1889–90, Auburtin, whose training was classical, started painting from nature. Drawing on Impressionism, Synthetism, Japonism and Symbolism, Auburtin created an oeuvre that was based on a constant dialogue with nature. As Monet had done before him, he would set up his easel outside on the rocky coastlines of Brittany, Normandy and the Mediterranean. These were places where sky, earth and sea came together. Although, like Monet, he painted in series, Auburtin was less intent on capturing the changes in atmosphere and light that Monet was drawn to, preferring solidly constructed compositions, with layers of rocks and grand natural settings. Although his approach was consistent with Monet’s aims, his work focused more on capturing the permanence of the elements and revealing the state of the world at its beginning.

The exhibition brings together a large selection of Auburtin’s paintings and drawings, together with several of Monet’s most remarkable works with the aim of presenting two different visions of the same landscapes.

Giverny Monet

Ker-Xavier Roussel. Private Garden, Dreamed Garden

A whole other painting style come through in the work of French painter Ker-Xavier Roussel. The exhibition of Ker-Xavier Roussel. Private Garden, Dreamed Garden will present around one hundred works by the painter Ker-Xavier Roussel (1867–1944), ranging from his Nabis experiments of the 1890s to his huge, powerful mythological narrative works, which he worked on at the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition will showcase the artist’s decorative power, as well as prints evoking the melancholy of turn-of-the-century Symbolism. The show will also provide an opportunity to reconstitute certain decorative works that have been split up and whose format and color palette are sure to come as a surprise. This lively show runs until 11 November when the museum closes for the season.

Ker-Xavier Roussel, Dans le verger de L’Étang-la-Ville, s.d.
Peinture à la colle sur toile, 129 x 298 cm. Collection particulière © Tous droits réservés / Photo : Anne Claude Barbier

Le Musée des impressionnismes, Giverny is Open every day including holidays and free on the first Sunday of the month. The exhibition has Free visitor leaflets: in French, English, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish.

Getting to Giverny is not hard.

Getting to Giverny is not hard. There are plenty of shops, galleries and of course the two museums to fill up a day or even two. Travel to Giverny via train to Vernon. The Vernon station is situated on the main line Paris / Rouen / Le Havre. It starts from the Saint-Lazare Paris station (which has not changed much since Monet painted it). The fastest trains complete the journey in less than 45 min. The Rouen line departs from the right side of the platform, in the Grandes Lignes section.
To get to Giverny from Vernon you can either take a taxi, the bus, rent a bike or walk.

  • A bus runs April through October to Giverny from the Vernon train station just a few minutes after the train arrives from Paris. Buy your ticket on board the bus.
  • Rent bicycles: « L’Arrivée à Giverny » across the street from the Vernon train station.
  • Walk the flat 7km in about an hour (and take the bus back if you like). From the trains station go down the Albufera street and cross the bridge over the Seine. At the roundabout ignore the signs for Giverny which are meant for cars. Go straight on, cross the first street “Route de Giverny” and  take the dedicated walking path to your right just before the pharmacy. It follows the tracks of the old railroad through the prairies, cow pastures and along a stream – all impressionist scenes, many painted by Monet himself.

If you want to visit Claude Monet’s home and gardens, be sure to buy tickets online in advance and go first thing in the morning to avoid some of the lines. There is always a crowd when the flowers are in bloom.
If you decide to spend the night there are several small hotels and B&Bs in Giverny and Vernon and a youth hostel (which rents bicycles to guests) in Vernon.