Paris-Day Trip to Giverny

If you are a lover of art and especially Monet, take the time to do a day trip from Paris to Giverny. Walk the lily gardens, stroll through the artist’s house and studio, and immerse yourself in all things Monet-an experience you will never forget. Go on a beautiful day and you will swear you are walking inside a Monet painting. Some of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever taken (with my phone camera-see below) came from our trip to Giverny. Enjoy the journey!

We visited Giverny in September and it was the perfect day-sunny with the gardens in full bloom. Make sure you dedicate a whole day to this trip, so you have adequate time for the trip from Paris and time to wander the fields dotted with haystacks and walk through the house and gardens. The lily ponds in person look exactly like Monet’s paintings-so surreal. I kept pinching myself that after viewing Monet’s paintings in museums all over the world, I was finally there at the epicenter of his inspiration. I am definitely not a gardener but even I could appreciate the layout and variety of plants and flowers. Well done, Monet!


Giverny sits at the confluence of the river Seine and the river Epte in the region of Normandy. While the big draw in Giverny is Monet’s garden and home, this village has existed since neolithic times and there is a church dating from the Middle Ages to explore as well as a Museum of Impressionism and plenty of cafes and shops.

Seeing Giverny from a train window, Claude Monet rented and eventually bought a house living there from 1883 to his death in 1926. He created an amazing garden, partially diverting the river Epte for these gardens that inspired his many famous paintings of the lily pond, weeping willow trees, and Japanese bridge. His house and studio have been restored and you can wander through to get a feel for how this famous artist lived and worked. Giverny is now managed by a nonprofit Fondation Claude Monet | Giverny (


Monet’s gardens are open every day including public holidays from April 1st through November 1st, 2023. Buy timed entry tickets online at Claude Monet’s house in Giverny. We didn’t spend much time in the house/studio because it was such a beautiful day, so we were outside walking the gardens. They do have a great store there so bring a bag to carry home some souvenirs.


Giverny is 75KM (47 miles) from Paris and 4KM (2.5 miles) from the small town of Vernon where the train will stop coming from the Saint-Lazare Paris station. The fastest trains (don’t book a “local” with many stops) complete the journey in about an hour. Book your train ticket from Paris to Giverny here: Trainline : Search, Compare & Buy Cheap Train Tickets ( You could also take a bus or drive, but I prefer the train ride to sit back, relax and take in the French countryside.


When Giverny is open, a shuttle bus or tram (so cute-we took this one!) can take you from the train station to Giverny’s parking lot. The round-trip costs 10 euros or less and only takes about 15 minutes. You can buy your ticket on board.

If you really want to walk, it’s about 5KM or 3 miles and mostly flat following the tracks of an ancient railroad. 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 pathway to your right just before the drugstore. Maybe next time I’ll try walking!

Florence-Torrigiani Private Estate Tour-Girls Trip 2021

Our Florence Girls Trip 2021, after an eleven-hour sleep, began with a walk around our local neighborhood in the Oltrarno. More local and less tourist is always my preferred location when travelling. Locals, especially artisans, live in the Oltrarno neighborhood which is on the “other” side of the Arno River far away from the tourist madness surrounding the Duomo. Our ARBNB was in a villa owned by sisters, who now rent out half of it (3 bedroom/2 bath) with a full kitchen and lovely outside space and then they live in the other half with their families. It was lovely. Spread out over three floors (with stone sloping steep stairs and a tiny elevator only to help with luggage), we did get a workout over the week.

Just outside the villa gates (secured with key and very safe) and directly across the street was the back entrance to Boboli Gardens. Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, we strolled the paths, walked up many flights of stairs (get in shape before you come to Italy!) and saw beautiful views of downtown Florence and the countryside. Totally worth a few hours of your life to soak in the beauty of this oasis. We exited on the far side away from our ARBNB, which is next to Pitti Palace, and picked up some groceries for the week at the local Carrefour market.

After a brief rest, we were ready to walk the Giardino Torrigiani gardens in the family estate located in the Oltrarno. The largest private garden in Europe within the circle of the walls of a city, it covers over 17 acres. The Torrigiani family has owned the grounds since the early 1800’s. My sister discovered this unique experience on one of the many travel sites we researched for our trip. I emailed one of the Torrigiani family members and set up all the details.

Tommaso Torrigiani took us on a private tour of his family’s gardens, which showcases many elements with different influences from the Masons to the UK and was laid out to represent the seasons of life from birth to death. He shared the history and stories of his family’s heritage. The grassy field has been used in the past to relaunch the local football team. The beautiful tower is the Torrigiani family pillar and houses a library and a crypt. I will never forget herbs crumbling under our feet as we walked the garden, releasing their fragrances. Of course, the hemlock tree was used for nefarious poisoning in the past, so we avoided touching that one. A riverbed, dug with hopes of tapping into the city water, has laid dry for centuries as the water rights were denied to the family. Now and forever, it will be a river of leaves only.

Following our stroll, we entered the impressive family villa, meeting Uncle Vieri along the way. Ciao! We climbed the grand staircase to the outdoor patio where we had our multi-course dinner. I’m a vegetarian so they went out of their way to provide a sampling of local Tuscan delicacies that didn’t involve meat. Course after course kept coming out from Tommaso’s wife, our chef for the night, with local Vermentino white wine freely being poured and shared. Tommaso joined us for dinner and explained each course, where the ingredients came from and the history of the family recipes. Together, we enjoyed an amazing Italian feast:

Tomato and mozzarella with his family’s home grown olive oil and basil harvested from the property

Cheese, pear puree and grapes

Liver pate (for everyone but me!)

Tuscan bread soup-a traditional way to use leftover Italian bread, which generally has no salt and is pretty tasteless

Eggplant parmesan

Roasted pepper and cheese crostini

Breaded zuccini


As the crescent moon beamed at us high up in the sky and the party at the villa next door kicked up, complete with music, we ended our adventure and walked just a few blocks back to our place, ready for a good rest. Truly an experience I will never forget. Enjoy the journey!

Japan to Italy in One Seattle Morning

On a sunny fall Seattle morning, it was time to visit different cultures without leaving downtown.  Thom and I love to experience new places so, from Japan to Italy, we decided to get out and savor the warm weekend weather.  Time to explore!

First stop-Seattle Japanese Gardens in the Madison Park neighborhood is a 3.5 mile oasis of tranquil ponds and flowering trees.  Now, parking is scarce especially as the garden parking lot sits next to soccer fields filled on a Saturday morning with cheering/jeering parents coaching their little ones on ferociously.  Be quiet, Mom and Dad, and let the tykes play.

After driving by and circling back with no spot in the lot, we just parked on Madison St. and walked down.  For only $6 per head, you can achieve zen and see some very hungry koi.  Bring your camera as everywhere you look is an Instagram moment.  They have a teahouse where you can buy tickets for an authentic Japanese tea, which I’ll have to try sometime.  Winding through waterfalls, streams and bridges over the ponds, I was so happy to see lots of turtles (I have a fascination with these ancient creatures) sunning themselves on the plentiful rocks in the pond.  The koi were colorful and hungry, being fed by the small children visiting the gardens.  A few of these koi may want to consider eating less carbs and swimming a few more laps around the pond-they were HUGE!

After wandering back by the soccer fields (we can’t wait until Mia starts playing!), we enjoyed putting the top down on Sexy Beast and driving back home to check out the Festa Italiana Seattle at the Seattle Center.  Oh my holy Hell those meatballs were delish and I rarely eat meat.  I didn’t even take a pic of them because I ate them so fast.  Swimming in lots of spicy sauce, my “tub of meatballs” went down quickly-tub being an overstatement as there were only five so I refused to share with Thom.  Waddling down to the exhibits where they had music, dancing, a wine garden and lots of vendors, we quickly sought out the Borracchini Bakery table and purchased cannoli’s, biscotti and other treats to take home to enjoy later.  When in Italy and all.  To be honest, they didn’t last long after we got home so I just might have to visit the Festa Italiana again tomorrow for another bakery run.  So. Good.

In another building, there was a fierce bocci tournament going on.  Such a game of finesse.  A show with elaborate puppets for the kids was enchanting and well attended.  The festival also showcased Italian dogs, Cirneco dell-Etna, small, wiry and high-strung Sicilian hound that hunts rabbits, as well as cute Vespas and classy Maserati cars.  Oh those Italians know how to live!

I love living in Seattle and going from zen to festa in a matter of minutes.  I’ll never take living here for granted.  Now it’s time to lift a glass of vino to toast the start of another great Seattle weekend.  Cheers!