If you’re someone fascinated by culture, history, and art, then Vernon, a quaint-looking Normandy village in northern France (70 km/43 miles North-west of Paris) beckons avid-travelers who wish to explore the Seine Valley up to Rouen. Mostly frequented by the famous French artist notably Claude Monet, this medieval town takes you back in time, where you’ll be able to contemplate impressionist art masterpieces at Musée Alphonse-Georges-Poulain, which you won’t find elsewhere in Europe. But then there’s also Vernon’s fascinating streets decked out with half-timbered houses dating back to the 14th century. However, the real gem is the stunning Collegiate Church of Our Lady - a Gothic church which is most venerated in the town. Yet, there are many other interesting landmarks which are worth visiting. Below we have compiled a list of things to do while you are visiting Vernon.
1. Discover fine architectural work at Château de Bizy
Decked out with refined architecture and sublime interiors (which were constantly renovated by successive owners since its first construction in 1740), Château de Bizy reels you back in time. An hour-long guided tour of this royal castle introduces you to the beautiful royal heritage of the French nobles like the Duke de Belle-Isle, who was the first resident. The interior of the castle takes you on a wonderful exhibition of the Grand and Petit Salon with 18th-century fine woodwork and Gobelins tapestries, not to mention the high furnishings dating from the 1st Empire. But the real highlights are the fountains, where you can see the intricate Roman-inspired sculptures depicting the gods Neptune and Mars along with the captivating goddess Venus guarding the top of the avenue.
Château de Bizy
Address: Avenue du Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny, 27200 Vernon, France
Website: Château de Bizy
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 10 USD
2. Bask in the breathtaking city views from La Tour des Archives
When touring Vernon, it’s hard to miss the majestic medieval tower. It was initially built in the 12th century by King Henry I of England, but later its structure was replaced by Philippe Auguste. The tower is part of the remaining ancient Château-Fort of Vernon, which soars high about 22 meters (39 ft) and consists of three floors. It was built primarily in order to strengthen the fortifications of the city but has been used for town archives in the 18th century. By 1840, the monument was classified as a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture. You can climb up the tower to view the beautiful vista of the city and the Seine Valley. Nearby facilities such as a public garden with fountains around have been built to provide leisure space to visitors.
Tour des Archives
Address: 14 Rue des Écuries des Gardes, 27200 Vernon, France
One of the many gorgeous historical buildings in Vernon is certainly Château des Tourelles which was built in 1196 by Phillip II of France who was in a mission to turn the town into a military base. What makes this 20-meter-high (65 ft) castle particular is the fact is has very stunning architecture which is composed by a square tower, encompassed by four round turrets with blue conical roofs, and has remained unchanged for the last 800 years! Its authentic structural design has no wonder made it a historic monument. Today the castle offers visitors the chance to sojourn in one of its understated rooms. There’s also a verdant garden around to stroll leisurely and enjoy the relaxing ambiance.
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4. Stop by the iconic Vernon landmark - The Old Mill
If you wonder how a Monet painting looks like in real life, then visit the 14th-century Old Mill timber house hovering beautifully above the river Seine. This medieval house was primarily erected for military purposes, but was later demolished strategically during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, and ever since it went through many rebuilds to eventually perish in the end of the Second World War. Thanks to the united contribution of the locals living in Vernon, the historic structure was restored. The mill was used for commercial activity, whereby five flour mills were operated by the water wheels found below the quaint structure. The original painting of this iconic landmark made by Claude Monet can be seen at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
The Old Mill
Address: 8 Rue Pierre Bonnard, 27200 Vernon, France
5. Find Claude Monet’s original paintings at Musée Alphonse-Georges-Poulain
Musée Alphonse-Georges-Poulain is among the few attractions in Vernon where you’ll get to discover and learn about a huge collection of artifacts collected by Alphonse-Georges Poulain such as military-related items, Gallo-Roman medieval artifacts, pre-historic items, and religious and fine arts. The museum was first created in 1927 with these fascinating artifacts along with Claude Monet’s original impressionist artworks which you won’t find elsewhere in Europe. Visiting the museum is an experience in itself - its quaint-looking features along with its gorgeous courtyard will certainly draw you back in time.
Address: 2 Rue du Pont, 27200 Vernon, France
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)
6. Go a wonderful historical tour on Monet's Train
If you’re planning to visit Giverny and wish to learn more about this beautiful region of France, then it is recommended to take the early morning train from Paris at the St. Lazare station via Gare de Vernon instead of going directly to Giverny. Upon arriving at the station in Vernon take the very affordable Monet’s Train or ‘Le Petit Train Giverny’, as the locals call it, and head on an epic journey, where you’ll get to learn about local history and hear interesting anecdotes.
Address: 1 Place de la Gare, 27200 Vernon, France
Website: Monet’s Train
Opening hours: 9am - 6:30pm (daily)
Price: 9 USD
7. Enjoy a typical Normandy cuisine at Bistro des Fleurs
One of the best ways to immerse into Vernon’s culture is by trying its local cuisine. And while you may have already visited Monet’s home and the gorgeous gardens, you might want to try a typical Normandy meal at the bright red Bistro des Fleurs located close to the town center. Find a daily three- to four-course meal menu on the noticeboard at the entrance before you get in and enjoy the friendly ambiance of the restaurant. As starters, try the olive appetizers, yummy slices of Mozzarella cheese with some fresh tomatoes, and sliced onions to tease your taste buds. And to make things even better, choose from a wide collection of wine to pair with your meal. One of its most recommended desserts has to be the homemade pudding made Normandy-style.
Bistro des Fleurs
Address: 73 Rue Carnot, 27200 Vernon, France
Website: Bistro des Fleurs
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 12pm - 2pm, 7:30pm - 9:30pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
8. Take a refreshing break at L'Arrivée de Giverny
Touted as an ideal pitstop to enjoy some refreshing drinks, L'Arrivée de Giverny is conveniently located near the railway station. A better way to make the most out of your time is by enjoying a chilled beer while waiting for your train. This pub-resto also offers both French and Middle Eastern cuisine. Our recommended dish is the delicious chicken with mushroom which comes with cream sauce, but you should also try the lamb chop as well.
L'Arrivée de Giverny
Address: 3 Place de la Gare, 27200 Vernon, France
Website: L'Arrivée de Giverny
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 7pm - 10:30pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 15 USD
9. Catch a film at Cinémas Theatre
Located at the center of the town, this small and cozy film theatre invites movie enthusiasts to spend an entertaining time with their latest featured movies. The theatre also supports 3D movies so you can expect to enjoy the 3D effect. The complex has three small cinema halls and one which is much bigger in size to accommodate a larger group.
Address: 1, place de Paris 27200 Vernon
Website: Cinémas Theatre
10. Visit the stunning Collegiate Church of Our Lady
Another must-see iconic landmark in Vernon is the stunning Collegiate Church of Our Lady, which is the most venerated church in the town. The church is decked out in a sublime medieval-Gothic architecture dating back to the 11th century. The church can easily be found at the Square opposite the Townhall, which has a lofty narrow nave with an external buttress which supports the high roof. If you move towards its west side you’ll end up seeing the marvelous stained-glass rose windows.
Collegiate Church of Our Lady
Address: 1bis Rue du Chapitre, 27200 Vernon, France
Website: Collegiate Church of Our Lady
11. Stroll along the quaint streets
The real charm of the Vernon city is certainly its quaint-looking streets along which lies close to gorgeous landmarks such as the 12th-century castles, museums, cafes, restaurants–you name it. And what makes it even more unique are the 233 half-timbered houses dotted along the old cobble-stoned narrow streets, located close to the Collegiate Church of Our Lady.
12. Learn about the beautiful historical legacy of Maison du Temps Jadis
Visiting Maison du Temps Jadis will take you back to the 14th century. It is where you’ll get to learn about the beautiful historical legacy of the building which has been witness to major events like World War II. The half-timbered building which was once used as an inn, antique store, and even as the office of the municipal police, is today used as Normandy tourist office. The building is known to be the oldest house which still stands majestically next to the collegiate church.
Maison du Temps Jadis
Address: Rue Saint-Sauveur, 27200 Vernon, France
Enjoy the medieval French town of Vernon
Vernon is certainly a gorgeous travel destination which you can miss if you wish to explore the Normandy region of France. Find our compiled list of things to do while you are visiting this quaint-looking town. And if you still have some time left then don’t miss to partake in a delicious picnic lunch along the Seine river to complete your traveling experience while in Vernon.
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