I have just returned from vacation in France. What a great trip! The first few days were spent in Paris and the last week or so with Mr. MikaLane’s family in a beautiful rented farmhouse outside Bordeaux in southwestern France.
There were lots of special things about this trip that I will post about in bits and pieces but one of the highlights was a visit to a place I had been dreaming about for YEARS. Giverny, the town where the incredible master of impressionism Claude Monet lived, gardened, raised his family, and painted until his death in 1926, was going to bring me as close to one of my idols as I ever could be!
But getting there was not to be easy.
The first time I tried to visit Giverny, pouring rain got in the way. The second, we messed up the train schedule. And the third, the Grandes Lignes ticket machines wouldn’t take our American credit cards (something about a security chip that European cards now have that American ones don’t), nor do they take cash. So we joined the long queue to purchase our tickets at the counter.
After two hours of cooling our heels we were finally aboard a scruffy little train that ran through several equally scruffy little towns. We disembarked 50 minutes later in Vernon, the closest railway stop to Giverny. We had 4 miles to go to reach Giverny and there were several options for getting there. None of them was very appealing.
Because it was a Sunday, there were no cabs available. The “regular” shuttle bus seemed a bit dubious, as there was no telling when the next one would be by. It was too hot to walk the 4 miles. That left bicycles.
The bike rental was part of the corner bar across the street from the station. It was a real authentic French place where men stood drinking beer at the bar with their man-purses. A blurred photocopy of a hand-drawn map was provided and we were on our way.
But our petty annoyances weren’t over. The gears on my bike did not change at ALL, and Mr. MikaLane had to suffer through a seat that was barely attached and kept moving to the point that it seemed ready to fall off.
Almost immediately we made a wrong turn. Several blocks in the wrong direction I flagged down a nice lady walking her dog. I showed her our map and muddled through with my elementary French till I understood the right way to go. There were no signs, which, given everything else that had happened that day, seemed about right.
Until I laid eyes on the place, I was not convinced I was ever going to get there. But arrive we did — to one of the most beautiful little villages one could ever imagine. Limestone block houses surrounded by brilliant flower boxes took my breath away. I knew the best was yet to come.
There really are no words for the beauty of Monet’s house and gardens. Because of that I will simply, finally, shut up and share my photos with you. Enjoy!
What about you? Do you love impressionism like I do?