The small village of Giverny (pronounced jee-vair-knee), just beyond the Epte River, which marks the boundary of the Ile-de-France, has become a place of pilgrimage for art lovers. It was here that Claude Monet lived for 43 years, until his death at the age of 86 in 1926. Although his house is now prized by connoisseurs of 19th-century interior decoration, it's his garden, with its Japanese-inspired water-lily pond and bridge, that remains the high point for many—a 5-acre, three-dimensional Impressionist painting you can stroll around at leisure. Most make this a day trip, but Giverny has some lovely lodgings, so you could also overnight here.
A region with a cultural history like nowhere else in the country has its own ways of celebrating the holidays.More