Monthly Archives: March 2016

Flowers and bubbles in France

I had forgotten how demanding this research is!

The best laid plans of mice and men… do not take into consideration French rail strikes.

The train I intended to get to Vernon-Giverny was cancelled and the first one was 12:20 – two hours later.

So I switched my day’s plan around and walked to the huge fancy stores – Galerie Lafayette and Printemps – first, instead of later in the day. The Art Nouveau stained glass dome at GF was stunning – so were the prices! Printemps has a lovely restaurant for us for lunch one day.

I got the train to Vernon and then bus to Giverny – a gorgeous place even in the pouring rain. Had lunch at my chosen hotel for September – which was delicious, with no theft attempts by a cat. Introduced myself and saw some rooms – all good. Then to Monet’s garden which was magical, even with rain flattened flowers from bulbs and pansies and wallflowers, which smelled delicious. No water lilies yet of course, but it will all be stunning when we get there in September.

The birdsong was amazing – I haven’t heard that since I was last in England – and the reflection of the trees in the large pond in his water garden, while not an unusual phenomenon, seemed especially beautiful in their forms.

I wandered the village in the rain finding beautiful things I’d like to buy for my home so must bring a shopping bag when I come back in September.

After exercising that discipline, along the street came some bubbles to meet me! They were floating down the street and then landing on the wet road and staying there, reflecting so many colours from all around them; coloured bubbles all over the road – it was exquisite. I wanted to take a picture to show you but found my camera battery needed recharging so that picture is only in my memory.

I took a nap on the train on my way back to Paris and then faced the Metro again. I thought the crowds in the morning were from rush hour but this was 8:00pm so that wasn’t the reason. We were crammed in like sardines in a can; there was no way anyone could fall over when the train jolted – we were packed in too tight to fall anywhere. Also, I’ve discovered there are almost no escalators so it’s stairs everywhere. I can manage this but a group with luggage on their way to Chartres wouldn’t have a hope. I must revise my plan and either use taxis to get to that train station or book a bus to take us to Chartres. This is why it’s important to do this research.

Chartres tomorrow, hopefully with no train problems…

Restaurant entertainment in Paris

My travels from Vancouver to Paris have been trouble-free and there’s been almost no evidence of added security at airports which I had expected. I was persuaded to take a shuttle van to my hotel rather than the train and, almost 2 hours later, I was regretting that. Then I remembered Rick Steves’ saying, ‘If things are not to your liking; change your liking.’ So I decided to enjoy the free tour of Paris that I was getting as everyone else got dropped off first.

People watching in airports is always fascinating; I’ve been doing a lot of that. My overnight in Madrid was very welcome – being able to get horizontal after 22 hours of travel. Although it was a short trip from the airport, the taxi cost 20 euros which I thought excessive, so next morning I found the bus and spent 1.5 euros instead to get back to the airport. I’ll be staying there 3 times in the course of this trip so it was worth knowing.

Once I settled into my hotel in Paris I set off in the rain to walk Montmartre, the haven of artists of all kinds past and present. Picasso lived here at one time as well as Lautrec, Rodin, Monet, Matisse, Edith Piaf, Gertrude Stein and many, many others. It was once a village outside the walls of Paris and still has a small vineyard as well as two wooden windmills. Artists were sitting under canopies in the rain still drawing and painting in the Place du Tertres.

I took one of Rick Steves’ recommendations for a restaurant for dinner tonight. It was a small restaurant with decorated mirrors and painted glass on the ceiling – very evocative. The restaurant cat joined me on my bench; I assumed it was because I was sitting on his/her favourite place but that was naive of me. The chicken I had ordered was absolutely delicious and cat clearly believed chicken was for sharing. I disagreed. After tapping him/her on the nose or paw several times saying “No” others started to notice and laugh. The delightful waiter took cat away a few times but it kept coming back. Finally he took it upstairs and shut the door by which time we were all laughing at its antics. The house Sauvignon was the best white wine I have ever tasted and I savored it. Cat didn’t try for any of that. Then there was a left over half bottle of a red going spare so I asked and was granted a taste of that one too.

I’m going to Giverny tomorrow to check the hotel we have booked for the September tour and visit Monet’s garden, even though the water lilies won’t be in flower yet. I want to explore the village and know my way around before the tour group arrives. I hope the rain stops.

Enough for tonight…