Sunday, October 2, 2016

Giverny, Claude Monet and Vernon

Sometime between 6:30pm and 7:00pm last night our ship left the dock at Le Pecq to begin our journey along the Seine River. We cruised the Seine through the night. Sometime around 2:30am I woke up when the ship entered a lock and there was a loud noise and the ship shook a bit. So I got up and opened the door and watched as the lock filled and then we passed through. After being awakened I had some trouble getting back to sleep. So I spent some time editing pictures and reading a bit. I finally got to sleep at 4:00am and then was up again at 7:00am. I woke up excited since today we are going to Giverny to visit Monet's House and Garden. He is in the top five of my favorite artist (in no particular order my five favorite artists are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Claude MonetGian Lorenzo Bernini and Giuseppe Sanmartino). We met Deanne and Dave for breakfast at 7:30am and then returned to the room to get our things for the morning. At 8:45am we boarded the bus and took the short 10 minute drive to Giverny. The bus parked in a large lot on the outside of the grounds and we all gathered off to the side of the parking area and broke into smaller groups for our tours.
Our group started in the water garden area. Our guide really gave us some good information and stories about Monet's life as she guided us through the gardens. We were happy and surprised to see so many of the flowers in bloom.
One thing I didn't realize was that there are two bridges in the water garden. From Monet's paintings I guess I only thought that there was one bridge that he used in his paintings. It was amazing to feel like I was walking in one of his paintings. The Foundation that runs the house and gardens has done a great job in keeping the place as authentic as possible and when you walk through the gardens you can see Monet's paintings.
From the water garden, we made our way to the flower garden. I was astonished to see the quantity and quality of the flowers and plants in the garden. I was also grateful that we were visiting at a time when the flowers were still in bloom. I could have spent the entire day just walking around the garden, admiring the flowers and sitting on benches and reading. Once we got through the gardens we had time to do a self-guided tour of the house. The outside of the house is beautiful, decorated with flowers & vines and just aesthetically wonderful.
The inside of the house was surprisingly plain but still lovely. The rooms, halls and stairways were small and narrow but remained functional. The exception to all of this was the kitchen. It was larger and more decorated than the rest of the house. I remember seeing pictures of the kitchen painted in bright blue and yellow and that is what we saw. But I guess I have never seen pictures of the rest of the house because nothing looked familiar. At this point we had some free time. We did a little shopping in the gift shop - I only ended up getting some postcards although I found a book I liked but didn't feel like spending €49,75 (which is almost $55.00) for it. We left the gift shop and decided to walk the town and try and found some letterboxes.

From Monet's house we walked down Rue Claude Monet and headed for the church and cemetery.
When we arrived at the church we first looked for Monet's grave and once we found it we took a few pictures and then we went in search of a couple of letterboxes. You can read about it at Giverny Letterboxing. After our letterboxing exploit, we went into the church to look around.
The church is called Église Sainte Radegonde and is simply designed and I thought beautiful. After about 15 minutes we needed to head back to Claude's so that we could meet our group and walk back to the bus. We arrived at the meeting spot and found that we were early so we found a bench to sit on and relax and enjoy the area. I made some notes about the day in my journal and then took a few pictures. Then we saw people from our group gathering so we walked over and joined them. A few minutes later our guide walked us to the bus and we headed back to the ship.

We arrived back at the ship and we had about 20 minutes until lunch was served. So we went to our cabin, washed up and relaxed until 12:30pm, at which time we headed to the restaurant. The lunch today was themed 'The Taste of Normandy'. This included foods from the region and was served buffet style. It was a good lunch - not great but enjoyable. Once lunch was done Thomas and I headed back to the cabin and I worked on some pictures (I took an obscene amount of pictures on this trip).
At 2:30pm we met out on the dock with our tour guides for a walking tour of Vernon. We started with a little talk in a tiny memorial garden next to the docks. There is a memorial to the 43rd (Wessex) Division British Troops for their part in the liberation of Vernon in World War II. From there we walked along Rue Bourbon Pentthievre to Collegiale Notre Dame de Vernon. This put us at the back side of the church. Our guide talked about the construction and history of the church and pointed out different aspects of the building as we moved around to the right side and on to the front. This took us along Rue du Chapitre to Rue Carnot. Here the guide continued to talk about the church. Facing the church is the Vernon Town Hall and to the right were some half-timber homes. We then continued along Rue Carnot to Rue d'Albufera and then to Rue Clemenceau. We were now standing facing the Seine and our guide pointed out an historical mill on the opposite bank.
Then we turned up Rue du Pont and continued on Rue de l'Ange. This put us at a walled and fenced area looking at The Archives Tower. After a brief introduction and history of the tower, we continued our tour walking along Rue Potard and turning onto Rue d'Albufera. Just a short distance down the road we turned into a paved area between two buildings. At the back of the area was a large wrought iron fence and gate. This gave us a different view of the Archives Tower. Then we continued up Rue d'Albufera to Rue Saint Genevieve and then to Place Adolphe Barette. This brought us back to the Cathedral and the Town Hall. This was a great tour and I loved Vernon. Such an amazing town with tons of history and charm. After our tour ended we did some walking around by ourselves. The town of Vernon was having a Fall market or something like that. There were tables set out all over the area surrounding the cathedral. After exploring the town we stopped and went into the church to have a look around. Fifteen minutes later we headed back to the ship. 

We rested for a while, did some reading and I worked on editing pictures. Around 6:15pm Thomas and I met Deanne & Dave in the lounge for a drink and for the daily briefing. At 7:00pm we all headed to the dining room for dinner. The four of us were joined by a couple from Kentucky - nice but a little weird. The gentleman worked as a missionary for years and at first, I was a little leery (a gay couple sitting with a religious missionary) but it turned out to good. The couple was liberal and open and supportive of Thomas and I and our 27 year relationship. The food was also delicious. The evening turned out to be great fun.

After dinner we returned to our cabin extremely tired and happy - today we checked off a bucket list item (Giverny and Monet's Home) and visited a beautiful town. I just finished a blog post and now it is time to get some rest. Tomorrow we visit the town of Rouen.

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