Going to a Giverny- Should I do a tour?

Jan 16th, 2016, 06:46 PM
  #1  
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Going to a Giverny- Should I do a tour?

My husband and I will be in Paris for a week this April and would like to visit Giverny. I am wondering if it would be easier, more time-efficient, etc. to book a tour. And if so which ones are the most reliable and informative? I'd like it to be a smaller group thing. There are a lot of options. Not sure if we shouldn't just work it out ourselves. The Fat Tire tour looks interesting but weather could be an issue in April. Suggestions?
reneebad is offline  
Jan 16th, 2016, 07:56 PM
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I can't comment on any of the tour operators, as we went on our own. We took the train to Vernon, found the shuttle bus to Giverny, and that was it. However, it was important for us to not be rushed and to be able to choose the day of our visit for likely good weather, as one member of our party is an amateur photographer and Monet fan, and this was one of the main reasons for our trip.

So while it may be (marginally) easier to go with a tour, I don't see how it would be more time-efficient? I don't recall the train ride being very long, if that's your concern?
KyraS is offline  
Jan 16th, 2016, 08:18 PM
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Yeah, I took the train, too. It was pretty easy. When I was there (mid-May) the garden was at its peak, but the day I had chosen to go it was raining early in the morning when I woke up, so I went back to sleep. When I later woke up, the rain had stopped so I decided to give it a shot, and by the time I got to the garden the weather was pretty decent. Unfortunately, by then, the garden was also pretty busy with people.

So - I would try to take the early train up to Vernon and get into the garden as soon as it opens. You can buy tickets ahead of time online (if weather forecast is good, you might as well book it the day before or earlier), and that lets you skip the "single entrance" line and go in at the group entrance.

Get to the train station early enough that you can buy tickets or buy them the day before (don't have to buy them at Saint-Lazare station where the train to Vernon departs). I didn't and almost missed the train because the ticket machines were broken and the line for a human agent was long and I arrived close to train departure. I could have bought a ticket on the train for a hefty surcharge (so said the conductor I asked as I got on the train) but she never came around to check my ticket before we got to Vernon, so my ride was free!
Andrew is offline  
Jan 16th, 2016, 08:26 PM
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Tour not necessary. Easy under-an-hour train ride from Paris (Gare St. Lazare) to the town of Vernon..a small local bus leaves the train station very frequently for the few miles ride to Giverny (There's a decent restaurant in the village) To me, the gardens, the house and the gallery offer a reflective ambience, at you own pace...no need to listen to a description of what you're seeing. Perhaps two-three hours and retrace your steps to Paris. We were there off seaosn and the colors were still bright and vivid, no summer crowds. We both felt that it was one of our most satisfying day trips.
tower is offline  
Jan 16th, 2016, 09:08 PM
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We've gone both ways. The mini-bus tour was definitely convenient transportation in that most include hotel pickup and return, so "door to door", but, it's not a "tour" once there - there are no guided tours within the property - you're dropped off near the entrance with a map and a few tips and recommendations and directions for where to be for the return trip. Unless anyone has mobility issues, it's easy enough to get yourself to the train station in Paris, take the train, then the shuttle bus, to Giverny.

There are many places for a very nice, leisurely, lunch before returning to Paris and I recommend allowing time for that if the weather is nice.

Agree it's best to acquire train tickets ahead of time (after you've checked the forecast for Giverny, which could be significantly different than Paris). But, I surely would not risk getting on the train without a ticket. A young couple across from us didn't know to validate their tickets ahead of boarding, but the conductor kindly waived the fine.

Also recommend taking the train that arrives (and include the bus ride) just ahead of opening time to avoid the coach tour buses.

If you'll go on your own, also highly recommend purchasing advance print at home tickets for Monet's Home and Gardens. They're not yet available for this year. In previous years, advance tickets have been valid for the entire season (any day you wish to visit), but more and more advance tickets are date specific, so do check on that when tickets become available.
djkbooks is offline  
Jan 16th, 2016, 09:23 PM
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djkbooks : I surely would not risk getting on the train without a ticket.

Neither would have I if I hadn't asked the conductor standing by the train entrance if I would be able to buy a ticket on board. She said I would be able to for a surcharge. She spoke English perfectly - I did not misunderstand her. Not every train operator charges a fine for not having a validated ticket. I've been on plenty of trains in Europe where this was not possible and I would have risked a huge fine.
Andrew is offline  
Jan 16th, 2016, 10:24 PM
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No need to join a tour unless you want to do so! In contrast, you might appreciate the freedom that traveling on your own gives you.

Many people urge getting to the gardens when they open. I'm not a morning person, and so preferred getting there late morning, after the tour groups had already entered the grounds and were well ahead of me. Just a thought!
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Jan 16th, 2016, 11:10 PM
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Andrew - Wh
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jan 16th, 2016, 11:24 PM
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Darn - got cut off. As I was saying to you Andrew, what the agent told you was true. For a surcharge you can buy a ticket on the train, however, what wasn't explained to you is that you need to seek out a conductor on the train to purchase a ticket. If the conductor first asks you for a ticket you will be fined if you don't have one. I'm not saying this to shame you but for the benefit of anyone reading. If you don't have a ticket you need to seek out an agent on the train and purchase a ticket. This means you need to walk through all of the cars to look for an agent, and on the local trains there may not always be an agent so indeed you got away with a free ride. If you are approached by the agent first and asked for a ticket and you don't have one you will be assumed to be a fare dodger and will be fined the cost of the ticket plus whatever fine category they deem necessary. It's all about honesty and intention, hence the reason you won't be fined (but will pay a surcharge) if you seek out the agent and ask to purchase a ticket before being asked to show your ticket.
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Jan 17th, 2016, 09:42 AM
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Thanks for this thread, reneebad. I'm planning to go one day in first week of May and appreciate the information.

As djkbooks writes above, it is too early for online Giverny tickets. Site says March 25 for next Giverny opening, hence online ticket sales.
TDudette is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 10:37 AM
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I don't really know of anywhere you can get on a train without a ticket and it not be a violation. That would sort of defeat the purpose of tickets if people didn't need them and then when the conductor came around just say, oh, can I buy one now? Because some people would do that in the hopes they wouldn't get caught and would never have to buy one, if there were no fine for trying to ride a train without a ticket. And I have been on French trains where the tickets were never checked, actually, on the shorter runs.

A tour would be more convenient due to the logistics of getting the train and then having to get from the train to Giverny, that takes time. When I went, the bus wasn't very coordinated with the train schedule so you wasted some time, and then you have to be really sure to get back to the station at a certain time as departures for Paris are not that frequent in the afternoon on some days. FOr example, there may be one at 2 pm and if you miss that, not another until 5 pm.
Christina is online now  
Jan 17th, 2016, 10:45 AM
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Christina: I don't really know of anywhere you can get on a train without a ticket and it not be a violation.

You can buy your ticket on the train in many places I've been. In others it is a violation if you are caught without one and you must buy/validate before you get on the train. Different localities have different policies. Some train operators do random inspections; other trains like the one from Paris to Vernon have conductors that collect tickets in every car and sell them to passengers who don't have them, at a surcharge.
Andrew is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 12:22 PM
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I go from Paris to Vernon frequently and I would say less than half of the time am I checked by ticket inspectors. As I said, if the conductor approaches you and asks for a ticket you can't just say "I'd like to buy one now". In that instance you will be considered a fare dodger and will pay the cost of the ticket plus a fine. If you board one of the local TER trains without a ticket it is imperative that you seek out a conductor and ask to buy a ticket.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 12:33 PM
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FrenchMystiqueTours: I go from Paris to Vernon frequently and I would say less than half of the time am I checked by ticket inspectors. As I said, if the conductor approaches you and asks for a ticket you can't just say "I'd like to buy one now".

Again, the conductor told me I could buy one on the train for a surcharge, not a fine. She spoke English perfectly. Feel free to say you don't believe me - I don't care. I am not a novice traveler - I have been on trains all over Europe, and I was worried enough about this to ask her. I would never have gotten on that train and simply hoped to avoid a fine.

But my original advice in this thread, recall, was to BUY A TICKET EARLY, not try to try to evade the fare or buy a ticket on the train. This is a pointless side argument, and I will not reply again about it.
Andrew is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 12:47 PM
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Another vote for do-it-yourself with the train from St Lazare. The time I went, the ticket clerk passed me an English-language leaflet about getting to Giverny from Vernon station (unasked, which was slightly peeving since I always thought my French was pretty good).

This way you have flexibility. If it's a nice day you can walk back to Vernon along an old railway line converted to a very attractive footpath, and Vernon is a pleasant enough town to have a look round as well.
PatrickLondon is online now  
Jan 17th, 2016, 12:59 PM
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No one has mentioned that you can rent bikes at the rail station and ride to the house/gardens.
DebitNM is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 01:33 PM
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You're still not understanding what I've tried to carefully explain. Reread my first post. Of course you can buy a ticket on the train for a surcharge (probably about 5€ above the normal ticket price) but you need to seek out the conductor first and ask them to buy a ticket. If you wait for the conductor to approach you then you will be considered a fare dodger and will pay the cost of the ticket plus the fine. This is what the agent did not explain to you. I don't know how I can better explain it than I already have.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 01:35 PM
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And on some of the TER trains (which I ride very frequently) I've even seen signs explaining about buying a ticket on board the train and the various levels of fines one will pay for not having a ticket and for not seeking out the conductor to buy a ticket if you board the train without one.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 01:48 PM
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The shuttle bus from Vernon station to Giverny is coordinated with the train schedule.

You can find the schedule (scroll down, not yet updated for 2016)

http://giverny.org/transpor/

Or, you can check the schedule posted at the bus stop when you get off the bus in Giverny for return times.
djkbooks is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 01:58 PM
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It's really pretty simple. I ride TER trains all the time, and have never been on one where you cannot get on the train, immediately find the conductor, tell him you don't have a ticket, pay a surcharge (or not if he/she waives it), and continue with your journey. As long as you explain yourself asap to the conductor it is NOT a violation.

Yesterday we took the train from Les Eyzies to Le Buisson. Then we took the train from Le Buisson to Sarlat. We had tickets. No one on either leg ever asked to see them. Same thing happened last time we went RT to Périgueux. When we went to Bordeaux recently, our tickets from Périgueux to Bordeaux were checked, and a young man who was not holding a ticket, and who didn't have money or ID, was made to get out in Bordeaux accompanied by a conductor and placed into the hands of some SNCF staff member at the train station in Bordeaux. So you do not get on a train without a ticket and not talk to the conductor or you'll be in trouble.

Today we had tickets from Sarlat back to Le Buisson, then from Le Buisson to Les Eyzies. All the trains were on strike on both lines. The tickets clearly say "Utilisable 17/01/2015 - 23/01/2015," so they are usable on any train between today and Jauary 23 for that run. The stationmaster at Sarlat confirmed that for us, plus I made a phone call to SNCF to confirm it. Unless more trains tomorrow are canceled, we'll get on the train tomorrow with our tickets from today, all will be fine.

But the point is, it's not a violation to board a train, even a TGV, without a ticket. What IS a violation is not to immediately find a conductor and explain the situation. You may be asked to pay on the spot with a supplement, or they may waive the supplement and just ask that you pay. It has been this way on French trains for at least the past 25 years.

At any rate, whether you take the train to Giverny or take the minivan tour that just provides transport, you don't need a tour. It's flowers, a pond, a bridge, and a pretty house. Unless you want a horticulturalist to accompany you, it's all quite intuitive,
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