Today, May 14th, we had a very special day! For some time, Jim and I have both wanted to visit Giverny, home to Claude Monet, and his home from which he painted so many of his epic works of art. A couple of years ago, when Jim and I visited his cousin, Kathy, in Paris, she took us on a great bike tour of Paris at sunset conducted by a really fun tour company called Fat Tire Bike Tours. Kathy told us they also conducted bike tours of Giverny, and ever since, we have really wanted to do this, so this time I signed us up.
After taking the Metro to Fat Tire’s Paris office, we loaded up a really nice bus and they drove us out to the northern part of Normandy where Giverny is located. We picked up our bikes (with nice comfortable seats) in the town of Vernon, and then we parked our bikes for about 45 minutes while we shopped at the farmer’s market (and a few food shops) in the town to get the fixings for a picnic. Today, the market was even more special than usual, and had some specialty vendors because it is officially, the cherry fair (Foire du Cerises). Naturelement, we had to buy some cherries, as well! Then we mounted up our bikes for a short ride over the river Seine to a beautiful grassy field on the banks of the river, where we inhaled our picnic selections ( and some really good wine).
Finally, it was time to ride into Giverny, for our visit to Monet’s house and gardens. The bike ride was a couple of miles along a beautiful hillside path, lined with lilacs in bloom. Then we came to the charming village of Giverny, and we parked our bikes on the outskirts of town.
Immediately upon entering Monet’s former homesite, you get the option to see either the gardens he established by his home, which are extensive, and consist of beautifully-laid out formal gardens of mostly flowering plants, or going to the Nympheas, which is the adjacent garden site Monet engineered by dredging to create the famous lily pond and planting it in a fashion influenced by the art of Japanese artists he had admired. Both sites are exquisite, and are true works of art in themselves! We could not have been more fortunate in our timing for this list, because virtually every flower in both gardens were currently in bloom, with a riot of tulips and irises the likes of which you would never see outside of the Netherlands. I was in a photographer’s orgy all afternoon. The house itself is quaint and charming, but your time is best spent maximizing all your time letting your senses drink in the splendor of the gardens.
Finally, we rode back to Vernon and made our way back to the bus. Jim and I then had to beat feet to get back to our hotel and change to go out to dinner and meet our tour group at last. Our dinner is at the restaurant Fouquet’s, which is reputedly another “etoile” (star) of French gastronomy. We can’t wait!