Sunday, June 15
We arrived at Charles de Gaulle after a ten hour flight from San Francisco. Not the worst journey, but still not pleasant for me, thankfully it was a direct flight. Air France has a weight limit instead of size limit for carry on, and I had to check my bag because it was heavier than 12 kg...too many books. Lesson learned. I was kind of freaking out because there was a strike at CDG, specifically AF baggage handlers! Customs took quite awhile, and thankfully our luggage made it. We picked up the rental car and drove to Giverny, but we couldn't find the house number, and eventually asked some nice gentlemen who told us we were in Vernon, and Giverny was a few kilometers away, across the Seine River. Oops. I had put the wrong address into my phone. So we drove across the river, and finally, we made it! Our B&B, Les Jardins d'Helene, was charming with a lovely garden. Our host Sandrine showed us around, and told us not to sleep. But I took a short nap, then we walked down the main drag and had ice cream. I took another short nap in the hammock before dinner at Hotel Baudy, on the terrace under a canopy of mulberry trees. Dan had pâté, grilled lamb, and meringues in creme anglais for dessert. I had a duck confit salad that was huge. After dinner we walked around the garden behind the hotel and saw the artist studio where many Impressionist painters supposedly worked.
Monday, June 16
At breakfast the next morning we met a mother and daughter visiting from London. Because of the strike, they weren't sure which train they would be able to catch back to Paris. Yikes! After breakfast we walked down the street to see Monet's gardens. We got tickets from Sandrine, and entered through the group entrance. We arrived at opening time, but there were already tour groups! I thought it was crowded, but Dan said it wasn't too bad. The gardens are a riot of color, and evocative of Monet's paintings. I enjoyed seeing the willow trees framing the water garden, as we had seen the giant waterlilies series at l'Orangerie in Paris two years ago.
We toured his house after the gardens. I liked seeing the old photographs, and Dan liked looking at the Japanese prints. I also loved the kitchen, but photography was not allowed. Next we visited the Musee des Impressionnismes down the street, and saw an exhibit on American Impressionism. We also saw French schoolchildren on a field trip, the first of many during our time in France. I think we saw at least one each day! We walked around the museum gardens after and saw a group of schoolchildren learning to paint a field of poppies. It was cute.
After the museum we borrowed bikes from the B&B and biked to La Musardière, where we had buckwheat galettes and cider for lunch. Yummy.
Then we biked uphill into some fields, Dan thought they were growing buckwheat and mustard seeds. Eventually the path ended, so we returned to the road. We were kind of lost, and luckily saw a couple of young Frenchman who were also cycling. They showed us the way to Vernon. We went to the bank, visited the church, and walked around town...even saw a beekeeper sign! (Dan has a couple of beehives.)
Then we rode across the Seine, and Dan found the bike path back to Giverny, where we peeked into the backyards of the houses along the trail. A very pleasant ride, saw some other cyclists and people taking a stroll, some with pooches, no beagles though. After we returned, we relaxed a bit before dinner. The restaurant we hadn't tried yet in Giverny was closed on Monday, so we returned to Hotel Baudy. Dan had steak, and I had smoked salmon. Dan's steak was very good, also they did not ask how you would like it cooked. It was rare but not bloody, perfect for Dan. Plus, there was mustard. We had a lovely stay in Giverny...next stop, Bayeux!