Giverny By Bike, A Perfect Day Trip From Paris

Visiting Giverny by bike was one of my favorite adventures this year.  Being a great lover of Impressionist art, I had always wanted to visit the home and gardens of Monet. But even though Giverny is only one hour from Paris, getting there can be a challenge, especially if you don’t want to take a bus or rent a car. Neither option appealed to me, so I had never gone.  While researching bike itineraries near Paris, I discovered that there was a bike route/walking path connecting Vernon to Giverny, and bike rentals close to the train station.  So I made plans to visit Giverny for two days while my husband had business meetings in Switzerland.  My journey to Giverny by bike was the ideal way to travel to this very special place, and this is a trip that I highly recommend to any visitor to Paris.

There are group tours offered by Fat Tire Bike Tours from Paris, but I’m not fond of organized tours, especially when traveling by bike.  I hate timetables.  I like the freedom of being able to take the time to discover the back roads, best pastry shops, markets, have a glass of wine, or two.  And, I wanted to spend the night in Giverny, to really experience the home of Monet, after all the tourists were gone.  So my journey to Giverny was my first solo bicycling adventure.  And it could not have been more perfect!

From my arrival in Vernon, to renting a bike, to buying picnic supplies and biking along the 6 km voie verte to Giverny, the route was well-marked, safe and full of gorgeous scenery.  As I leisurely pedaled along the abandoned rail line, I wondered what Giverny was like in the days of Monet, and what it would look like now.  Would it be busy and commercial with lots of souvenir shops and tour buses?  As I slowly approached the village, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The approach to the village was quaint and charming with small homes and cottages covered with ivy and filled with flowers in brilliant colors of the autumn season. The late afternoon sun cast a light on the buildings and flowers that made everything glisten.  As I rode down the street, Giverny slowly revealed its charm, and I began to understand why artists so love this area.  Riding down the main street of Giverny was magical.

The main street was busy, but I had timed my late afternoon arrival perfect, as most tourists were completing their day’s visit.  When I arrived at the Giverny Museum of Impressionism most of the afternoon’s visitors were enjoying the gardens, leaving very few people in the museum.  I was so lucky to visit during the Clark Collection Exhibition, with over a dozen Renoir paintings, along with Monet’s and Manet’s.  I stayed until the museum closed, savoring every minute viewing many paintings I had never seen before.  I was able to take some pictures in the garden with the setting sun, but planned to take more in the morning.  With all the tour buses gone, I bicycled down the street to my charming B and B for the night, looking forward to exploring the simple treasures of this charming town.  The streets were full of artists hoping to capture the best light of sunset, the colors of the setting sun were breathtaking.  I realized that bicycling to Giverny from Vernon enabled me to experience the town in a very different way than ordinary tourists.

Enjoy some of my favorite pictures, and perhaps you will be enticed to plan an overnight to Giverny the next time you are in Paris!

Easy to follow path to Giverny

View of Seine on way to Giverny

Follow the yellow bicycle signs to Vernon town center. Go through town towards the river, and take the bridge over the Seine. The scenery is beautiful, so be sure to stop and take some pictures.  When you see the following church, watch for a sign on the right that points to Giverny.  It’s easy to miss as it looks like a parking lot, but the path starts at the far end.  If you come to this church, you have gone too far!

 

Make a right hand turn before this church

And then follow the signs to Giverny

Bike path to Giverny

Arriving into Giverny

Changing colors of autumn in Giverny

Entrance to the Giverny Museum

Giverny Gardens

A spot to enjoy the gardens

Capturing the late day light

Marked path back to Vernon from Giverny

Trains to Giverny leave from Paris Gare St-Lazare.  The direct trains take about 45 minutes.  Other connections can take an hour and a half, so be sure you pay attention to the schedules.  Since I planned on spending the night in Giverny, I took the 12:20 which arrived into Vernon at 13:04.  If you plan to do a day visit, there is a 10:20 which arrives at 11:04, and a return at 6:53, arriving back in Paris at 7:40.  Depending on the time of day you travel and if you are able to purchase discounted tickets, the round trip fare runs from 28 to 38 Euros.

There are two cafes directly in front of the Vernon train station that rent bikes. At the time of my trip in late September, only one of them was open.

Bike rentals at train station in Vernon

You will be asked to leave some sort of document like a drivers license or credit card to rent a bicycle, so be sure that you have something with you.  I would not suggest leaving your passport.

The route is very well marked and safe, even to travel alone as I did.  Be sure to allow some extra time to walk around the town of Vernon, with its half-timbered houses, museum and one of the best pastry shops in Normandy, Rose Pastisserie at 74 rue d’Albufera.

Half-timbered house in Vernon

Don’t forget to pick up some beignets for the road

For additional information on Vernon, contact the Vernon-Giverny Office of Tourism.  If the English translation of the website is not functioning, use Google Translate!

Posted by Maggie LACoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow way....by bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.

  1. I’m an soooooo envious! I can’t wait to go back to France for more bike touring. I agree it is the best way to travel, you capture the essence so beautifully in your blog. It is very helpful in planning too. Great information! Thank you!

  2. Dear Jeanne,

    Thanks so much for your comments! I am looking forward to including lots of new destinations for the new year, and am looking forward to the release of my new series of French Bicycling E-Guides. I’m so happy that you enjoy the website and hope you will recommend it to your friends!

    Maggie LaCoste

  3. Hello! I plan on exploring Giverny while in France next week. Can I ask what you do with the bicycle while exploring the museum and gardens?

    1. You get a chain and a lock when you rent your bike and you just find a place to lock it up. I locked mine over by the parking lot where there were some things to lock the bike up to! I also think I remember seeing an actual place to lock up bikes, if I can remember where this place is, I will let you know! Have a great time, it is a wonderful short bike trip. Be sure to try to stop at the great bakery in Vernon that I mention in my blog post!

      Maggie Lacoste
      Experience France by Bike

  4. My husband and I will be visiting Giverny this week-end. I’m really looking forward to seeing the area, and after reading about your trip, I’m thinking that biking from Vernon is the way to go. Thanks for the info! Any suggestions on where to picnic in the area?

    1. If it were me, I would probably buy picnic supplies in Vernon (pate, bread, wine and cheese). Check out the bakery that I listed. There is also a wonderful gourmet shop with lots of cold and warm dishes to go across the street. And then you can purchase cold beverages in Giverny, along with ice cream after your visit! There are many places to picnic, including along the river on your way there or back, but there is a road along the river, so not as peaceful as Giverny. I would take a small towel and then just explore down the streets of Giverny until you find a spot you like–the best spot will depend on the time of day and the sun. You will have no problem finding a perfect spot. Enjoy. I am very jealous!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike
      http://www.experiencefrancebybike.com

  5. shalomcharlotte May 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for the great references, complete with beautiful pictures!
    We’re here in Paris and taking your advice for our Giverny bike excursion tomorrow.
    I’ll let you know, but that walk or bike from Vernon to Giverny might be the highlight of our day:-)
    Thanks again:-) 🙂

    1. So jealous! Giverny in May. I can’t imagine a much nicer time to be there! Please let me know how your trip is. Thanks for reading Experience France by Bike!

      Maggie LaCoste

  6. Dear Emmi!

    I loved your note and am so happy to hear that you are going to step out of your comfort zone and try a new adventure! This is the perfect time of year for this trip, so have a great time and enjoy! Let me know how it goes!

    Thanks for reading Experience France by Bike!

    Maggie LaCoste

  7. shalomcharlotte May 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Well, ok! I just returned from Giverny and took ypur route. Fabulous! What a day!
    Navigating Gare St. Lazare was kind of awful and daunting but I’m so glad we perservered.
    For anyone reading this, don’t be swayed by regional train signs. Just keep going up and follow the Grand Ligne signs.
    Renting a bike was so easy and friendly and we joined a young lady from Taiwan for the bike ride. It definitely doesn’t feel like 3 miles because the first mile is through town. It’s pretty wonderful.
    By the time we hit Giverny, it was lunch so we too 2 hours to do that at Hotel Baudy on the main road.
    The gardens were worth every bit of the wait and fare.
    The ride back reminded me my tush was sore! But a glass of Cotes du Rhone for 3€ at the bicycle cafe helped:-)
    Thanks for everything, what a day!

    1. SO happy that you had a great day. And it wouldn’t be an adventure if it wasn’t without any challenges! I hope that maybe this trip wet your appetite for possibly another adventure. I am just about finished with my first e-guide which is A Weekend Trip From Blois to Chambord. It’s just a 2 hour train ride from Paris, and actually is easier than the trip to Giverny!

      Thanks for the follow up, hope you took a lot of photos!!!

      And thanks for reading Experience France by Bike. Let me know if you will consider another possibly longer trip!

      Maggie LaCoste

  8. Hi Maggie,

    Stumbled upon your website last week, and a lot of great information here.

    I am wondering if it practicable to take my own bike from Paris via SNCF to Giverny, and feel secure locking it up there? I am mainly in France and Spain to ride the Cols, so am taking a reasonably top end bike.

    Whilst I don’t intend to use it around the city environs of Paris (use the Velib instead), I do have some non-sporting rides that I want to do along some of the Voie Vertes, including of course Monet’s Garden.

    Thanks,

    Paul
    Brisbane, Australia

    1. Hi Paul!

      If you are asking if it would be safe to lock up your bike in the village of Giverny while you are touring the answer is absolutely, as long as you have a suitable bike lock. If you stop and visit in the town of Vernon, there are bike lock stations near the train station and in town, and once again, be sure to use a heavy duty lock. If you will be leaving your panniers on your bike, I would just be sure that you remove any computers or electronics from the bikes. We do this all the time. The only thing that is in my panniers is lots of chamois creme and usually my smelly bicycling clothes, so if someone wants to steal them, it’s no big deal to me!

      Have a great trip. There are several lovely voie verte near Giverney, so I hope you have a chance to explore them too!

      Thanks for reading Experience France By Bike!

      Maggie LaCoste

  9. Hi Maggie: I just stumbled upon your website and this post! What a great resource. This trip to Giverny sounds like a great fit in my present schedule. If you had a second day in the Giverny area, where else would you bike to? Like you, I enjoy not following a timetable and just enjoy, well, enjoying. Will you please share the name of the B&B you stayed at?

    Many thanks,
    Gretchen

    1. Hi Gretchen,

      Thanks for the note and I too am glad that you found my website! Arriving in Giverny by bike is a perfect experience, one of my favorites. It’s not far, but I love the whole idea of bicycling up this small hill and then having the village of Giverny unfold right before your eyes. It’s amazing how small it is. Somehow Monet is so large that you think it’s going to be a huge place, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I always feel sorry for the people who arrive by car or bus as they miss this whole part of the experience!

      Anyway, if you have a second day, I would spend the night in Giverny (the B&B I stayed in has closed, the people sold the house!), but there are lots of lovely choices on the main street. There is a bicycle path that runs from Vernon to Gisors, it’s a green way meaning no cars. I would have breakfast the next morning, bicycle to Vernon to the pastry shop and buy some treats for on the road and then spend the day bicycling to Gisors. Here is the link to a great map and detail on the route. Hope this information helps!

      http://avenuevertelondonparis.co.uk/troncons/entre-seine-et-vexin-francais

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France By Bike

  10. […] suburban locations.  If you’re looking for a low-cost bicycling adventure, read my article, Giverny By Bike, A Perfect Day Trip From Paris.  This on-your-own adventure can be done easily in a day, including a picnic lunch and train ride […]