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Seeking Giverny and Rouen Information

I will be taking a cruise in October and one of the ports is Le Havre.

I am considering the following shore excursion which will be 9 1/2 hours long and cost me about $180 which is a bit pricey for me but I could do it.

How far is Giverny from Le Havre? I am worried that the trip might be too tiring for me but it does include a meal and Rouen as well.

What are your opinions?

Giverny, located on the right bank of the Seine is a charming city known all over the world through the famous paintings of Claude Monet, who lived in the village from 1883 to his death in 1926. The house and gardens formerly owned by Monet have since been turned into a museum. The house has been restored in pink and green, and contains reproductions of the painter’s works, collection of Japanese prints from the 18th and 19th centuries and pieces of china. The adjacent flower garden replanted according to the original design of Claude Monet, is a spectacular display of colors. After the visit, you’ll have free time before your drive to a countryside restaurant for lunch.

Rouen is the capital of Higher Normandy with a skyline of towers and spires, and its heritage of fine buildings and many museums offers visitors a wealth of artistic delights. Follow your guide through the historical part of the city. See the Old Market Place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 and the modern Joan of Arc Church completed in 1979. Other sites you’ll find during your walking tour are the Gr Horloge Street with its belfry and a sculpted archway on which rests a Renaissance lodge decorated with clock faces that still indicate the time of the day, the phases of the moon and the days of the week. Discover the Law Courts, the seat of Normandy’s Parliament and the cathedral, made famous by Claude Monet’s paintings of its façade.

Posted by
3529 posts

How far is Giverny from Le Havre? Approximately 140 kilometers, but Google maps could have told you that. The question is do you think that you can handle a 9.5 hour trip with a couple of stops? The trip to Monet's gardens will generally involve walking through the gardens and touring the house. Is that plus the walking tour of Rouen so probably about 3 to 4 hours of walking all total going to be too tiring for you? Only you will know that.

Posted by
1588 posts

Well, I went to google maps and here is what I got

"Sorry, we could not calculate transit directions from "Le Havre, France" to "Giverny, France"". What did you put in on google maps/?

I am old and have some health issues but I can still walk some. I walk about two miles a day, not all at once but sometimes a mile at a time. I am slow

I would probably be able to sit down in The Gardens during my free time.

I would be sitting during the meal.

In Rouen, I might be able to sit down during even the walking tour.

I think the caution description of the shore excursion says something about two.miles of total walking which I. could do. I will have to go back to the cautions.

Obviously I will be sitting on the bus.

I am more concerned about the total miles between Le Havre and Giverny France and or about how long it will take. That is what might help me make a decision.

Posted by
1588 posts

Well, JHK

I went back to my shore excursions and did get this Need to Know "Tour involves approximately two miles of walking on uneven ground and cobblestone streets in Rouen. The gardens of Giverny are not wheelchair accessible and the house of Giverny has numerous steps to negotiate."

So this will have to be taken in account when I make my decision

Posted by
1451 posts


My google maps says that from the center of La Havre to the center of Giverny is 83 miles and takes 1 hr 33 minutes (on the toll road). So give or take a bit for location.

From Giverny to Rouen in 43 miles and will take 1 hour and 2 minutes (on the toll road).

Best of luck with your decision and have a great trip!

Also from Rouen back to Le Havre is 56 miles and should take 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Posted by
771 posts

Bostonphil, getting old is so hard. I admire your desire to travel. Is it possible to contact the shore excursion company and ask specific questions? I'm also wondering if you might be able to stay on/return early to the bus and sit if you feel exhausted--another question for the excursion folks.

I have not been to Rouen, but I have been to Giverny. Both the house and the gardens are lovely and peaceful. If you are not on a guided tour of Monet's house and gardens, you could easily walk through the house and the gardens in less than an hour with time to simply sit and take it all in. It is a small venue compared to many.
I tried the link that your tour provided which you posted, but it appears to no longer exist. It does seem from the text you provided that the Rouen part of the excursion involves more walking and perhaps more time standing. If you cannot withstand the Rouen part and stay on the bus, at least you'd have seen Giverny. Again, I'd reach out to the excursion providers. My best to you!

Posted by
771 posts

Addendum: while in Giverny in 2019, my husband was in heart failure and had been for 2-3 years. He was able, without difficulty, to manage the few stairs (it's a house, nothing like palaces, museums, the Metro, etc.) The garden is not even 1/2 acre (2.5 acres if you include the pond and bridges, but you can sit). Hope this helps.

Posted by
25613 posts

That's a lot of money to spend (for me, anyway) for one day, especially if you cannot take full advantage of both stops. It would be relatively easy to get to Rouen by public transportation (train) from Le Havre. Most of the trains take less than an hour; the cost is under 20 euros each way, and there might be a senior discount. Buying the tickets in advance might yield fares between 5 and 9 euros each way. You'd be able to set your own schedule and take a break when you wanted to if you simply took the train. By comparison to that expensive cruise excursion, you'd have lots of money left over to take a taxi when you wanted to.

Posted by
6833 posts

bostonphil, I think maybe you cruise a lot, and know what "Moderate Activity" (or whatever) usually means on a shore excursion menu.

I can add that the Giverney gardens and the adjacent informal "museum" are not large, compared to American estate gardens or public gardens or National Parks. Without going to Wikipedia, I would guess that the Monet garden is 2-4 acres at the MOST. Except for the famous footbridge, it is essentially level. I think the house is elevated 6' higher, on the other side of the road. ??

Rouen is a big, brick and stone city. If you walk for two hours in Paris, you can walk two hours in Rouen.

$180 is not out of line for a cruise excursion with lunch that is not included with the cabin fare, as most are not. You didn't speculate about private tours, but with this distance from the ship, I'd want a product that the ship is GUARANTEED to wait for the return of before departing. i.e. an exploitationally-priced (I'm being ironic. I buy company excursions all the time!) "company" tour.

I paid about $700/person for an day ship excursion from Belize City port to Tikal (ancient Mayan city), in Guatemala. It included a (fixed wing) scheduled air flight and return. It was worth every penny. (One reason I mention this is that I am among those who often reply "too darn far for a daytrip" on this newsboard!)

I personally have found that included-lunches are either exceptionally well run and fast, or lazy time wasters. You can't tell in advance. They typically choose restaurants with extra .... toilet facilities. But that doesn't make the food bad.

Posted by
1588 posts

Hi Lindy,

The shore excursion company is now a call center used by Norwegian. You call them. They book the excursion for you and take your credit card information. Then they send you an email. They know only what they are reading as far as the description.

Pre Covid, persons in Shore Excursion seemed to really be in a department of NCL. They had gone on some of the cruises themselves and could give you more information if they had gone on the excursion.

There are no reviews on the NCL excursions by other passengers who have taken the excursions as Pre Covid. There is only a 0 for reviews.

I can call my personal cruise consultant but unless he went on the excursion, he would only know what is written.

Posted by
1588 posts

Well, I think after doing more research and thinking about it, I am going to pass on Giverny. Norwegian offers a 4 hour excursion to Rouen and one to Honfleur.

I want to do something a little more than just stay in Le Havre. We are also going to be in Le Havre about 12 hours.

It is still early and I am going to wait and hope that Norwegian will drop mores shore excursions.

Because I have sailed several cruises, always with Norwegian, I have discounts and amenities on shore excursions. Also because of age and some health issues, I prefer to stay with a Norwegian shore excursion.

I am also hoping that Norwegian will offer a Rouen or a Honfleur on your own. That way I can tour at my own pace.

Posted by
9143 posts

I know that taking a train on your own would be cheaper, but I really worry how much walking that would be just to get to and from stations (and the port !) before you ever actually got to see anything. At least with the company’s excursion, you're getting dropped near to where you're visiting.

Posted by
1588 posts

Thanks to all for the helpful and informative responses. I will keep this post updated when I decide what excursion to book.

Posted by
32 posts

We visited Giverny a few years ago, and was heavenly! To see the garden and pond that were the subjects of Monet’s art was fantastic! We were on our own, so we took an early train from Paris and got to Giverny before the hoards, which usually arrive around noon. The train actually goes to Vernon, across the River, which is also charming.

Posted by
34 posts

I have been to Giverny and Honfleur. Both nice but loved Honfleur. Worth just walking to harbor area and people watchi ng at a cafe.

Posted by
1588 posts

I have not yet booked my shore excursion from Le Havre but leaning towards Honfleur. My cruise is not until October and I am waiting to see if Norwegian might offer more excursions.

Posted by
726 posts

We did a ship excursion like this in May of 2022, albeit with a Celebrity-organized excursion. We don't generally do excursions, but decided to do this one based on the fact that we only had one day and I wanted to see both. I don't have a lot to compare to "moderate", but it wasn't physically difficult. It took time to accomplish, but difficult walking surfaces were rare. Given your limitations, if you want to see both, I'd stick with the $180 excursion. The train would eat up a lot of your time and energy. We spent about 3 hours in total on the bus. My elderly husband walks with a cane and more slowly than most, and he has moderate balance issues, but he managed the day just fine.

Based on our experience, my first comment would be that Giverny is generously described by previous posters and in the description. The flowers were of course lovely and the gardens well-maintained, but peaceful and charming it definitely was not. Yes, the exterior of the house was pink and green. Because of the crowds, it was impossible to enter with the time remaining after we literally shuffled along the path surrounding the ponds. Ditto on the gift shop. There is a small cafe but it was too crowded to get a table. There is no place to sit in the gardens. There's a chair or two on the house's porch, but other than that and the cafe, there is no seating for resting. It took about 10 minutes to walk on a hard but uneven surface from the bus parking. I'll add the caveat that it was peak season and the site had very recently reopened after COVID, so that would account for at least some of the crowds, as would poor time and crowd management. I would consider the time of the year you'll be there. Assuming you are on a TA westbound, that puts you well into October. The gardens close on November 1. It wouldn't be as crowded, but I'm not sure what would be left. I'd check Trip Advisor, etc boards to try to find someone who's actually been there in October.

Rouen is pretty much as described, but with only a few hours there and lunch, it was hard to get much beyond the Joan of Arc church (dull), the market (ok) and the reconstituted historic center/Cathedral (the highlight) Rouen, like Le Havre, was badly damaged in the war. Our guide told us that the remaining standing historic structures had been moved to what is essentially a tourist center near the cathedral, making a short visit more manageable. The cathedral is lovely and the clock is cool (and closer to the street than the one in Prague). Of course you could rest in the Cathedral. I recall that we had about 30 minutes there. Our lunch was adequate, but hardly noteworthy. That's what you get when you're seating 50 people for an hour lunch. Yes, the restaurant was in France, but "French", eh. Highlight was that it was another rest.
Rouen has some cobblestone streets, but unless it's wet, it's probably not going to be an issue. Here, too, it was so crowded, you could barely move along at much more than a crawl until you get to the piazza (what's the French equivalent?) when things opened up. We never made it to the described "many museums with a wealth of artistic delights". There wasn't enough time.
All this said, Le Havre being the launching point for the Paris and Normandy beaches, you do have a bit more time than most shore excursions, so maybe it will be ok. Yours is longer than our 8-hour tour, you'll be resting on the bus (Giverny was our first stop), and there are opportunities for resting in Rouen in addition lunch. Honestly, I'd say the choice of going or not depends more on your bucket list than it does on being "moderately" strenuous or lengthy.

Posted by
9955 posts

My first trip to Giverny was in mid-October of that year and the flowers were beautiful. Every season has different flowers blooming. The second time I went was in later June of a different year. While the gardens were spectacular, it was far more crowded. I preferred my October visit. I’ve only noticed one small area in the garden that had a couple of benches and didn’t notice anywhere to sit in the water garden area. I don’t remember the chairs on the porch of the house, but I wasn’t looking for a place to sit.

We stopped in Honfleur last October as we were driving from Bayeux to Lille and enjoyed spending a few hours there. I’ve never been to Rouen.