I took the train to Normandy and went to Giverny, where Monet spent the last years of his life and created his beautiful gardens and painted some of my favourite pieces. I decided to rent a bicycle and bike from the train station to Monet’s home (it was only about 7km’s one way). What a beautiful bike ride through the town and countryside. The song “I Am Confident” a la Maria in the Sound of Music went through my head. (Fine, I know that was set in Austria and this is France but close enough!) The bike was perfect, including its old-fashioned shape, squeaky brakes and adorable basket!
Monet’s home is very enchanting. You aren’t allowed to take photos of the interior of the house. It’s full of tiny rooms sprouting off on another. The rooms are painted springs colours – light green with blue trim, blue walls with violet trip, the dining room is a sunny and cheerful yellow and the gorgeous kitchen is all blue and white tiles with copper pots hanging off the wall ( I was drooling!). The entire house has tons of Japanese prints on the walls – an important part of Monet’s inspiration.
Monet once said, “I am only good at two things. Gardening and painting.”
Let me tell you, when the man is good at something, he is GOOD at something!
The gardens are stunning. Row after row of plants, grouped in aesthetically pleasing colour arrangements – one row of pinks, reds and purples, the next of yellows and oranges. Tons of arches and beautiful trees, especially those willows I love so much. The irises weren’t in bloom (too late in the year) but the gladioli were!
The walk down to the water lily pond and Japanese bridge was beautiful and follows a small stream, which widens later. There were two dories moored on one shore. The
water lily pond is much bigger than I thought. The bridges offer great views. As Monet grew older and developed cataracts, he painted on bigger canvases and less details
(hence the Water Lily paintings) – this would be a great subject – the light reflecting off the water would be enough to give the feeling of it.
I rode back to Vernon and had lunch at a place I highly recommend. As soon as you’re out of the train station, there’s a small cafe with a few signs, “Here Rent Bicycles”. It’s called Arrivee du Giverny
Cafe. I was chatting with the owner when I returned the bike and decided to have lunch. I’m not a huge mussels fan by any stretch but he recommended them so I decided to have the Moules et Frites – I’m sure it’s illegal to leave France without sampling that here anyways!
It was delicious! The best meal I’ve had here in France. I’m so glad I ordered it. The mussels smelled incredible and were done to perfection. The broth was unbelievably tasty and the fries – for once the fries were actually cooked to crispiness! They were a perfect combination. The chef delivered my lunch himself and when he saw me taking a picture of it (I’d had one mussel and it was so good, I knew I had to share!) he came over and took one of me (he didn’t ask by the way – just took the camera and clicked!). The service was fantastic here. The owner has recently acquired this cafe, so I’m not sure what it was like before but it is now fabulous. Truly. If you go to Giverny, give yourself enough time to have the moules frites at the cafe!
I got lost. The guy gave me a map but it was very faded and despite all the information I read on the ‘net saying the route was clearly marked…it was not – at least not for a person who is directionally dysfunctional! I eventually got help from a Japanese man who speaks no English and two words in French (that was interesting – God bless him) and then a couple from Bath found me (really, they found me) and having been to Giverny a few times, they let me follow them. God bless them too!
I am an idiot. I completely buggered up reading the train schedule for my return journey (seriously, it’s very clearly laid out – I’m just an idiot). So I ended up missing my train by a ONE minute and then had to wait two hours until the next one.
That was when it started to rain.
Further proof that God is a woman – only a woman has this twisted sort of sense of humour. I should know! 🙂