Claude Monet: The Ultimate Artist Tour
Updated: Nov 4
There are few artists as influential as Claude Monet. His name is forever connected to Impressionism and his later work which continued to change the future of art.
His mastery of color and sophisticated understanding of light give his paintings a vibrant liveliness that is as powerful today as ever before.
But to really understand him, one needs to walk in his shoes and see his work the way he intended.
And that is the heart of my Claude Monet tour.
I’ve been giving tours of Paris for a decade, and now, I’m able to offer car tours. This means seeing more, learning more, and understanding more about Paris and the amazing history here.
On the Claude Monet car tour, we will see his magnum opus in a building he helped design and walk the very same paths during the most important phase of his career.
And as we peer into the life and mind of one of the world’s greatest artists, we will also find ourselves learning about the history of Paris and France, origins of Western art, and the global shift into the modern era. It’s a dazzling story that unfolds over an unforgettable journey.
To get a glimpse of just what we’ll see and why it’s important, I’ve put together this post. When you’re ready, contact Flora and schedule the perfect Claude Monet tour!
Who Was Claude Monet?
Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) was born in Paris to a Catholic family. His mother sang, and when she discovered that her son wanted to paint, she encouraged him greatly. His father, a wholesaler, wanted his son to join the family business.
But young Claude was not to be deterred. Already at a young age, he knew what he wanted to do. At only 10 years old, he enrolled at Le Havre secondary school of the arts. Only five years later, he was beginning to make money selling drawings of people he knew.
He studied under Jacques-François Ochard, and later learned how to paint en plein air from Eugène Boudin. Monet and Boudin would take many trips out into the countryside to paint, and it is these experiences that Monet would later regard as his true education in art.
After a brief stint in the military fighting in Algeria, he returned to France and befriended Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. As young men with their lives ahead of them, full of high spirits and vaulting ambition, they set out to change the world of art forever.
And they actually did it.
Monet and Impressionism
After a brief exile during the Franco-Prussian War, Monet together with a group of other painters began exhibiting their work outside the stifling world of the French salon. One of his paintings he showed at this time was Impression, Sunrise (1872). The critic Louis Leroy wrote a scathing review where he coined the term “Impressionism” as an insult.
But Monet and his group of fellow painters would have the last laugh, as Impressionism helped begin the sweeping trend of modernism in art.
Monet was struggling to sell his works, but he continued to experiment and build a new way of painting. Rather than trying to paint “realistically,” he tried to capture what his eye actually saw. His work grew more subjective and moving over these years.
Move to Giverny
After tragedy in the family, he moved to Giverny, a commune in northern France on the bank of the Seine. Here, he grew gardens that would serve as a major inspiration for the last four decades of his life.
The gardens alone have been seen as an artistic masterpiece, and they gave rise to some of Monet’s most famous works. He wrote meticulous instructions to his ever growing army of gardeners, creating highly detailed plans for new expansions.
And while there, his painting began to sell very well, providing financial security. This allowed him to build a new studio and afford the enormous gardens.
It was here that he first noticed water lilies in one of his ponds. He became fascinated, even obsessed, and he painted them over and over again for 20 years. Many art critics believe his increasing focus on water lilies helped launch abstract art, as his work at this time began to drift into full exploration of pure color and form.
Our car tour with a driver and a guide to see Monet Art
With our chauffeur service, we are able to get a much more in-depth and complete look at the genius of Monet. And it all begins in Paris.
1- The Orangerie Museum
We start our journey at the Musée de l'Orangerie. This incredible art museum houses eight of Monet’s enormous Water Lilies murals. Its full collection covers great works by impressionist and post-impressionist painters, including the likes of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.
Here, we can get an up close look at Monet’s magnificent control of color and appreciation for light. Because of the overwhelming size of his Water Lilies paintings, you can become completely absorbed in his mastery.
But a stop at the Musée de l'Orangerie is about more than seeing these works. It represents the artist at the end of his life and the height of his powers. In fact, the story of the museum became deeply intertwined with Monet’s donation of these impressive paintings.
The Orangerie was built in 1852 on the request of Napoleon III for Paris renovation. It was here that the warm-loving citrus trees in the Tuileries gardens could be stored over the winter months. But in 1870 Napoleon III’s Empire collapsed and a year later the Tuileries Palace burned. The Orangerie was now in state hands, but there weren’t any plans for it.
In the 20s, however, the French government wanted to create more museum space to present art by contemporary artists working at the time. And the beautiful Orangerie seemed a perfect fit for this project.
2 - See Monet in the Orangerie
At the time, Monet was working on these magnificent paintings for the French government, but they were meant for the Musée Rodin. But a deal was reached and soon the Water Lilies murals were headed to the Orangerie.
Monet even helped design some of the major renovations to adapt the building to its new use as an art museum.
In particular, he set up the two oval rooms that would link together and display his work. When seen from above, they form a lemniscate (the infinity symbol).
But the artist died before the museum opened. In his honor, the museum was referred to as the Musée Claude Monet for its early years.
3 - Go to Giverny
Our final destination is Giverny, where we can see the land that gave Monet so much, and allowed him to offer us so much to the world.
Today, we can walk the same bridge over the pond he painted many times. We can peer into the same water that kept inspiring the painter for two decades.
This is often a profound moment for visitors — informing the Water Lilies paintings seen in the Orangerie, but also informing us about the kind of experiences that gave rise to so many innovations in art.
The shifting of the light and the ever changing surface of the water might seem simple. But it was the basis of Monet’s complete transformation from the leader of the Impressionists to something else, something bigger.
After all, it was here at Giverny that Monet shifted from an influential painter at the top of his game to an artist who reached new heights that few have ever managed before or since. His laser-like focus on a pond in a garden allowed him to elevate painting itself. And the work he completed here would push the possibilities of visual art into brave new territory.
Giverny is a pilgrimage that every art lover must make at least once in their life. It is a place that still hums with the energy of Monet and his fearless pursuit of beauty on the canvas. And to walk through the gardens that he designed, we feel that inspiration in ourselves.
The Ultimate Monet Experience
With an artist like Monet, you can’t get a full appreciation of his power by seeing a painting in a museum. You need to see his work as he wanted people to view it, and you need to go to the source of his greatest works.
That is why I designed this Claude Monet car tour from Paris to Giverny. For art lovers, it is an incredible opportunity to get a personal understanding of one of the true masters.
If you love the artwork of Monet, please reach out to me in advance as the Musée de l'Orangerie is small and can get busy quickly.
Let’s start planning your perfect Monet tour ahead.
Thank you !