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Giverny, France and London area food, brew, gardens, antiquing & museums worth touring

Because I love Monet, I'm considering adding Giverny to our pre or post days surrounding our RSE Paris tour. Wondering if it is worth a day trip.
Also, we are adding a few days in London before returning home. Looking for recommendations on horticultural gardens worth touring. We should be there at peak bloom for roses & other perennials. Interested in going to a show and I may get to add one museum to our itinerary so wonder which is your first choice for art and history. Also, any tips on the current food & brew scene are appreciated.

Happy Travels!

Posted by
2992 posts

Because you love Monet and flower gardens, I would say Giverny is worth a day trip.
To see art in London, the National Gallery. For history, the Churchill War Rooms. You’ll need to purchase your tickets for the latter before leaving home.

Posted by
4961 posts

If you love Monet and gardens, then Giverny is absolutely worth a day trip. Kew Gardens would be the obvious choice from London. Unfortunately, I believe you'll be too late for the Chelsea flower and garden show. My first pick for an art museum would also be the National Gallery, and for history, the British Museum.

Perhaps some of our UK regulars can chime in on the current pub and restaurant scene, although I think they've only recently reopened.

Posted by
2479 posts

I thought Giverny was part of the RS week in Paris tour? I checked and it’s Versailles that is part of the tour. I would definitely recommend Giverny, it’s one of my very favorite places in Europe! I’ve only seen it twice but I would gladly return.

Posted by
97 posts

We enjoyed Steak and Co. in London. They serve their steaks on hot plates. Very good. They have a few locations but we enjoyed the one in Leicester Sqaure and eating outside.

Posted by
1190 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
Giverny is a nice place to visit. I don't know when you will be there. We actually hit their opening day of the season so there were only a dozen or so tourists. It does take the better part of a day to get there, see it, and get back. Are you sure you want to spend that amount of time doing this or would you be better served Monet-wise by going to see the Musee Marmottan Monet, D'Orsay, and l'Orangerie and never have to leave Paris. Even if your tour takes you to one or more of these museums, a second visit has great value.

Where to eat in London? Gosh, find a non-tourist pub that serves meals. A pint and the daily special will be an experience. And don't forget there are Monet exhibits in London.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
5798 posts

I like both Monet and gardens, and when I went to Paris the first time, Giverny, Orangerie and Marmotten were priorities (also the Orsay, but that is on your tour). Giverny was everything I thought it would be and more! We stayed at a BnB in Giverny the night before so we could arrive at the entrance (we used the tour entrance next to the lily ponds, which was I tip I read) There is also a small Impressionist museum in Giverny. And then, there are many beautiful gardens in Paris besides Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries.

Posted by
33003 posts

How much time are you wiling to give to gardens around London? Do you have a particular garden designer in mind whose work you'd like to see? Are you willing to go out of town?

If you will be peak rose time, is that July and June?

Are you familiar with RHS Wisley?

I often suggest Kew Gardens as others have above, but unless you would enjoy the plant houses (they are indeed fabulous - we are members - but they are not planted gardens) and there is the long border, Kew is more trees and shrubs than banks of herbaceous borders....

Coming to England you will be coming to garden central.... let's see if we can find the one that best suits your needs, wants, and desires. It is great that you have time to plan. 2022?

Posted by
9730 posts

Giverny is definitely worth a day trip.

What month will you be in France?

Posted by
585 posts

Buckingham Palace gardens are going to be open to the public from July to September; apparently you can even take a picnic! Google Buckingham Palace gardens for info. Tickets will probably be snapped up. I always enjoyed the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley gardens in Surrey, a nice day trip from London. Was always taken there by a friend so can’t help with travel directions.

Antique shops are all over the place, if you know the area where you are staying you could easily Google antique shops in whatever area and see what comes up.

Museums: big or small, world history or London/British history? British Museum, Victoria and Albert, Churchill war rooms for the biggies. The Museum of London is the story of London through the ages, super smaller museum close to the remains of London’s Roman Walls

Posted by
6952 posts

If you are in Paris in June and are interested in rose blooms, there is a great rose garden a few miles south of Paris, the Roseraie du Val de Marne, which you can combine with nearby Parc de Sceaux - a formal French park in the same style as the Versailles gardens and very worthy of a visit.
This being said, if your time is limited, then Giverny takes priority by far!

Posted by
895 posts

Giverny for sure. We've been once already and likely will again in Sep. The pond and gardens are amazing, the house is interesting and the gift shop has lots of nice Monet choices.

For London, if you like Fish and Chips, we ate at the "Rock and Sole Plaice" after watching Guy Fieri visiting it on one of his shows. Excellent food, huge portions.

Posted by
2141 posts

Hi Sheri, Giverny is wonderful and I think a “must do” if you’re a fan of Monet. One time we did a Fat Tire Bike tour and it was a lot of fun. Be sure to walk down to the church if you’re interested in seeing Monet’s grave. As mentioned, the Musee Marmottan in Paris is also amazing. I believe it’s the largest private collection of Monets in the world. Don’t forget the Orangerie!

If you have time for another excursion outside of Paris, visit Villandry. It is hands down the most impressive garden I’ve ever seen. Just beautiful.

Posted by
776 posts

Given the random way the UK changes its rules, you might suddenly find yourself needing to quarrantine on arrivial from France, but not find out until you get to London.

Posted by
9730 posts

Excellent point, Simon, but I think since they mention going on a Rick Steves trip, that this journey is in 2022 (not to say that any of us can guarantee we will be “done” with these Covid restrictions in 2022 either, though !).

Posted by
11294 posts

London is one of the world's museum capitals, so you have lots of choices.

For art, I'll join the chorus suggesting the National Gallery of Art. It's one of my all-time favorites - room after room of great stuff. It's one of the few places that Vermeers could get ignored (I was the only one looking at them at the time), because the crowd was in front of the Van Goghs. But a worthy contender is the Tate Britain, showcasing British artists.

For history, the Museum of London has two branches; the main one showcasing general history, and one in the Docklands area showcasing maritime history. My other pick would be the Imperial War Museum, with all kinds of interesting displays on Britain's role in various wars. If you want just a WWII focus, then the Churchill War Rooms suggested above are very worthwhile. And the British Museum has "history" of a different kind, with information about great civilizations of the past (Greek, Egyptian, etc.).

If you have a more specialized interest, there's probably a museum for it.

Posted by
17 posts

Outstanding information - thanks to you all. We will be on the May 29 RSE Best of Paris in 7 days. After that, we have six days to add a few days in Paris and/or head straight to the Loire or Bordeaux regions until our RSE Basque Country tour begins in Bayonne on June 10.

We were planning on stopping in London AFTER our RSE Basque Country tour ends on June 18. I am beyond grateful for the mention of the Chelsea Flower Show, as we could visit London BEFORE our RSE Paris tour starts on May 29th. I am thrilled!

I would greatly appreciate advice on how best to experience this event - where to stay, is it something we should book with a guide/tour service? I searched for the Chelsea Flower Show online and got pages and pages of tour companies covering the event as well as other gardens. Those tours all conflict with our start date of RSE Paris.

We both love classic rock music; however my husband is huge fan of British rock as he came of age in the early-mid 1970s. Any Rock music museums worth visiting? Is the Beatles tour worthwhile?

Is there a neighborhood or district anyone can recommend for lodging & non-touristy pubs? We stayed near the Horseguards on our last visit to London.

We are also salty dogs, so British maritime museums are also on our discussion list. This isn't our first trip to London and won't be our last.

Thank you!

Posted by
1159 posts

I don't know about rock museums, but if you want to make a rock-and-roll pilgrimage, go to the Zebra Crossing outside the Abbey Roads Studio. It is a fairly busy street/intersection, but that doesn't stop people from trying to recreate The Beatles' famous picture at all hours of the day. Tell your friends when you will be there and they can look for you on the web cam (although from the opposite direction of The Beatles' shot):

Funnily enough, it is very quiet as I am writing this. Probably due to the dearth of tourists in London now. Historically it is crazy busy.

Posted by
104 posts

Sheri, Giverny is definitely worth the visit. We rented a car for one day on our most recent visit (2016) specifically for the purpose of going to Giverny. We really enjoyed the day. The house tour is "fine" (but not really why you're there), the gardens are beautiful, and the pond is exquisite. There is a small museum next door (almost feels like it's part of the property, but it is run separately by an entirely different group), the Musee des Imressionnismes, which has a nice display. There is a restaurant on that property, La Brasserie des Artistes - we had lunch there, outside, surrounded by gardens. It was lovely. When we returned to Paris, we went to the Orangerie the next day to see the Waterlily paintings themselves. My husband, who is not prone to exaggeration, said the overall experience was almost religious. We are both art lovers, and to see the actual locations followed by the paintings was a true joy. For what it's worth, I would try to see them in that order (gardens/pond first, then the Orangerie). Have fun!

Posted by
104 posts

Oops, I forgot the London portion. If you have time, we did an Indian food tour in the Whitechapel area of London in 2018. It was a highlight! The tour was informative and fun, and we got to taste so many wonderful things. It was an area of the city that we probably wouldn’t have thought to explore, which made it all the more fun. We used Secret Food Tours. They have other themed tours that I cannot speak to, but judging by the Indian food tour, I would imagine they are fun, informative, and yummy. I can highly recommend!