When traveling with a lover of Impressionist art, Giverny tops the list for day trips from Paris. So on our free day, we headed 80 km northwest of the city to the village of Giverny, where Claude Monet lived and drew inspiration for his later masterpieces. It was a rainy day, but the weather did not seem to deter the enthusiastic throngs of water lily-loving American and Japanese tourists.
For 9€ (~12 USD), one gains entry into Monet’s home and gardens, by way of a gift shop. The gardens were quite lovely, in an organized chaos sort of manner — each few-square-feet plot was abloom with what appeared to be every type of flower known to man. This inundation of flowers spilled over into the famous water lily pond.
The town of Giverny is itself quiet, once you are removed from the tourist hustle of Monet’s home and the Impressionist museum. Narrow roads have minimal vehicle traffic (all the tourist traffic parks downhill of the town, and visitors walk up to the sites). The typical French countryside brasseries and hotels are easily walkable from the galleries and attractions.
Consult wikitravel for ideas on how to access Giverny. Most bus tours from Paris are structured day trips, so if you’d prefer more freedom, hiring a car is your best bet. If you’re overnighting (or more) in Giverny, train may be a better option, since you won’t need a car once you arrive in Giverny.