Monet Country: Lovely Giverny #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travels
The last stop in Normandy was in Monet country, the lovely village of Giverny where lived and painted in his extensive gardens. I know you’ve all seen his water lily paintings. Well, this is where he painted them. Rebecca and I wore print tops (not quite matching) in colors that reminded us of Monet’s paintings.

Monet actually had two gardens, the water garden and the more traditional Clos Normand. We started in the Water Garden with the large lily pond.

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And the Japanese bridge. Of course, everyone had to have their pictures taken there. The bridge appears in a number of his paintings.

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We had a lovely, warm, early autumn day to explore the grounds, and I was amazed at the array of flowers still blooming. These are just a few of the pictures I took.


Monet garden

When we’d had our fill of the gardens, we toured his large pink house with green shutters. (Interesting color choice.)

Monet home

Monet’s home

We saw a number of his paintings on display inside, but most in a room where photos were prohibited. I did snap some pics in the colorful dining room and kitchen, and I decided I wanted a yellow kitchen at home.

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After a stop in the gift shop, we had lunch at Les Nympheas, a small restaurant on the property. We dined on the patio, relaxing and enjoying the pleasant day.

Les Nympheas

Les Nympheas Restaurant, Giverny

Afterwards we strolled through some of the shops, including one lovely little shop with scarbes and bags and other items all with Impressionist images. Rebecca made some purchases, and I would have, too, but I was literally running out of Euros and still without a credit card. Damn pickpockets.

After Giverny, we drove to Paris, happily going against the traffic. The Friday afternoon getaway was in progress, so traffic going the other direction was quite heavy. At a comfort stop, I picked up a bag of cheese puffs made with Emmental cheese. They were really good, better than the US variety, and with no yellow residue on my fingers. I also loved the Innocent kiwi smoothies sold in the Marriott.

Swiss cheetos

Emmental cheese puffs & smoothie

When we arrived back at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche, I was quite relieved to find my new Mastercard waiting for me at the concierge desk. Thank you, Bank of America!

That night, we had our farewell dinner at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter, complete with wine and entertainment–an accordionist (how French) and a guitarist who thought he was a comedian. He did a lot of mugging for the crowd and flirted with the ladies. Alas, I have no recollection of what we ate, except that it was good.

Next week, Versailles.


Chenonceau, The Ladies Chateau, Loire Valley #TuesdayTravels

Chenonceau, the “Ladies Chateau,” seems like a good choice for today’s #TuesdayTravels since it falls on Valentine’s Day. This beautiful, relatively small chateau sits on the right bank of the River Cher. In French cher means dear, but it also means expensive, and royal ladies could be very expensive indeed.

Chenonceau front

Front of Chateau Chenonceau

This front view shows what Chenonceau looked like in the mid-16th century when King Henry II gifted it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Diane added an arched bridge over the river. After Henri’s death, his widow, Catherine de Medici, took the chateau back from Diane and built the long gallery atop the bridge, resulting in this view that I call my money shot.

bridge & gallery

Chateau Chenonceau with bridge & gallery reflected in River Cher

I could hardly blame Catherine. I’d want this place, too. We had an entire morning to explore, starting with a tour of the chateau. Here are some of my photos. We started on the ground floor, including the chapel. I thought it was interesting to see how the floor decorations had been worn off except along the walls.

It was fun to visit the kitchen down a floor. That’s where my ancestors would have worked, I’m sure. The kitchen level is closer to the river, making it easy for them to receive provisions from boats below.

Upstairs, we saw the bedrooms, including some cool paintings, one of Chenonceau itself. The draperies on the beds weren’t just for decoration. By closing the drapes, the bed area stayed warmer in an era where the only heat came from fireplaces.

The most unusual bedroom is the Black Room of Louise de Lorraine, widow of King Henri III. After his assassination, she had her room redecorated entirely in black and lived there for many years afterwards. Rebecca declined to see the room, figuring it was haunted, but I was curious. I don’t see ghosts, but I can sometimes sense things in places, esp. old buildings, but I didn’t feel anything creepy or sad in the room. I think she worked through her grief. I did manage to get a photo of the bed, despite the darkness.
Black Bedroom

The long gallery was originally used for balls and other entertainments. Now the second floor is give over to the Medici Art Gallery.

There are two separate formal gardens at Chenonceau, each planted by the ladies. Catherine de Medici’s garden is more natural looking, with its profusion of flowers and I liked it best.

Diane de Poitier’s garden 1s more formal, though also lovely.

Diane garden

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. See you next week with more #TuesdayTravels.