We went downstairs around 8:30 am and the breakfast tables were all nicely set with little baskets of croissants, tea cups and jams. I noticed the little garden in the rear which I missed yesterday.
|Les Plumes Hotel Paris|
|Advanced Coffee machine|
|Yogurt and Juice|
|Eggs, sausage and crepes|
It was now time to walk to Saint Lazare station to catch our train. Our express train to Vernon will depart at 10:20 am and only takes 45 minutes. The express runs about 4 times per day. The slower train takes over 2 hours so the fast train is worth the wait.
I studied the Google map last night and had no fear of getting lost this time. It is basically a straight shot from our hotel to the station and should take no more than 15 minutes to get there.
My mother was still contemplating taking a taxi but the hotel staff reconfirmed it was an easy stroll. It was pleasant outside, a little overcast with temps in the high 60's and it was great to stretch our legs. About 8 minutes into our walk we noticed 4 - 5 young men behind us. Mother was concerned fearing they were some sort of hoodlums. I thought she was being silly as they looked harmless. We crossed the street to the opposite side just to play it safe. Otherwise the walk was uneventful.
We passed this beautiful building but there was no sign. It would be nice to know its significance.
It must be important as they are working on it and have scaffolding in front. There was a gate with initials that may indicate a clue.
It was just about another 5 minutes from here to Saint Lazare station which we discovered was also undergoing renovation. This morning we saw the garbage trucks and the city has appeared quite tidy during this trip. I don't remember Paris ever looking this clean before.
|Gare Saint Lazare|
As has been our usual practice, we were early again but we needed the extra time to purchase our train tickets. There were kiosks but we decided to wait in the main ticket line as we were not sure what time to return and needed to go over the options. The line was long but they had 4 people working the ticket area. Our turn came and we decided the train around 1:00 pm was too early so chose the next one at 2:53 pm. The cost was 13.90€ each way per person.
|Our train tickets from Paris to Vernon and back|
Our train will terminate in Rouen so we kept our eyes peeled for that destination on the board. I noticed the train to Deauville was leaving at around the same time and for a brief moment wished we were going there instead.
|Waiting for the track to post|
Apparently the train to Rouen was a popular choice for as soon as the track posted it was a mad dash and it felt like we were competing on the "Amazing Race". Mother being far from spry, we were among the last to board and almost didn't get seats. Hmm, standing? That was not going to work. The train has two levels and we...okay I, made the mistake of going up top where there were no seats. Back down on the lower level we found a couple seats near one of the doors just as the train was pulling away. Phew!
|This seat was completely full when we left|
Upon arrival we were directed to board one of the buses for the short ride to Giverny. The cost of the bus is 4€ per person each way. There were 4 buses, so plenty of room for everyone.
Looking around it appeared that most of the people on the bus were young women. There were a few men but not too many.
|On the bus to Giverny|
We were now in Giverny and it was very green!
I do prefer the country to the city so anytime I have the opportunity I will gladly head out of town.
We pulled up to the drop off point which was at the end of a large parking lot. It was then about a 15 minute walk to the ticket office. We passed this pretty restaurant on the way. I was thinking we should stop here for lunch on the way back.
The walk was very nice along a level path. We looked at the sign posted with a map to get our bearings. The area is much larger than I realized. I thought the only thing here would be the garden. However, there are small galleries, various restaurants and even a few guest houses.
|Map of Monet's Giverny Garden|
|Path to Monet Garden Ticket office|
I read online about the possible lines for tickets so purchased ours online in advance from Digiticks. The website was easy to use and I printed them out to take with us. Each ticket was 9.50€ and you can use the tickets for up to one year from date of purchase.
|Monet Garden E-Ticket|
|Monet Garden Gift Shop|
We then made our way out the back to head to the Garden. The Monet Garden is probably most famous for its large pond with the pretty water lilies. However, the areas on the way there and near the house are very beautiful in their own right. The entire landscape was breathtaking.
The round Globe Thistles above were a beautiful periwinkle blue. Looking around I wish I knew the names of all the other flowers. I loved the composition of all the various element and it really piqued my interest.
At first glance it looked like just a bunch of flowers, flowers and more flowers. But closer examination revealed the artistic planning involved. It definitely requires a lot of work.
The autumn flowers at Giverny include Anemone, Dahlias, Asters, Passiflores Grimpants, Climbing and Stem Roses, Rudbeckias, Clematis, Marigold, Aconites, Carnations, Tansy, Pelargoniums, Ipomee, Hypericums, Epilobes, Begonia and many other varieties that we enjoyed discovering. I would love to learn how to design even a small area like this one. Giverny is located in hardiness zone 8 which is the same zone as Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Madrid. By comparison, most of England and Wales is in hardiness zone 9.
Claude Monet was born in 1840 in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. His real name was Oscar-Claude and his parents actually called him Oscar. His family moved to Le Harve and his mother died when young Claude was only 17. While living in Paris, Monet was trained as a painter. However, Instead of focusing on copying old masters as was common practice then, Monet desired to paint what he saw. In developing this style he among a handful of others founded what became known as French Impressionism.
In 1883 after ten years of living at Giverny, Monet began transforming part of his land and pond into an Asian inspired water garden. In the 1880's the European fascination with all things Japanese was referred to as Japonisme. Monet was a great admirer of nature's central influence in Japanese culture. He was also very adept at incorporating these themes into his landscapes.
|Monet on Giverny Bridge 1922|
"It took me a long time to understand my water lilies…I grew them without thinking of painting them…And then, all of a sudden, I had the revelation of the enchantment of my pond. I took up my palette".
Claude Monet 1924
|Claude Monet Home Giverny|
Some of the areas were roped off. It was wonderful to glance down the gravel paths at the archways and arbors. It looked so natural and there were many of these rows.
This is a view looking back at the house from further into the garden.
The style of the garden is very natural. It probably requires more talent and skill to design a garden this way than to have it manicured. I loved the contrast of the raspberry colored Globe Amaranth with the sunflowers across.
It was a bit of a walk to get to the pond area but truly enjoyable. We finally made it to the Water Garden area where you had to go down an underground passageway to reach the other side.
|Passageway to the Water Garden|
The meandering stream was very peaceful as we walked along the bridge toward the lily ponds.
In this area they had a couple little wooden boats to make it plausible that monsieur Monet was shortly due to return.
After the underground passageway, passing the bamboo, and then a little stream...we were finally there! Although were were expecting it, the first sight of the Japanese Bridge over the pond was more amazing than I imagined. It looked very similar to what I remembered seeing in photos over 20 years ago.
|First glance at the Japanese Bridge|
|Postcard of Japanese Bridge at Monet Garden|
Growing up I was fascinated by Monet's creation of the Japanese bridge and his garden. We lived up on a hill 300 feet from the road with lush foliage a small pond down below. I spent a lot time wishing we could build a small Japanese bridge similar to this one and add some amazing landscaping. Not being overly ambitious and having no skill in this area it seemed an impossible task. In the end, the pond eventfully dried up, skunk grass, large ferns and moss predominated. The area remained "natural" in comparison to our neighbors with perfect hedges and meticulous landscaping. Seeing the Monet garden in person brought back some nice memories and I appreciated the "wildness" and seeing what is possible when you put your mind to it.
|Monet Lily Pond|
It is very peaceful here and easy to get caught up in one's thoughts. It was a challenge to get a photo of the bridge without anyone on it though. I almost succeeded.
|Monet Japanese Bridge beyond the willows|
|Great reflections on the pond|
|One of my favorite areas|
The red brambles were a nice contrast to the colorful flowers.
I don't know what this flower is. Perhaps it is a Tansy?
The Monet Garden surpassed our expectations and I am very glad we came. It was now time to turn around and head back to the house. We saw very few people until we reached the passageway.
We actually viewed some cows in a field with the lush hills in the background. It is amazing you can experience this garden and the wonderful countryside just 45 minutes via express train from Paris!
I didn't notice until on the way back that the passageway was donated by Walter Annenberg.
As we went up I took a photo of the people headed down. Again, lots more women than men.
It looks like there be many more visitors in the afternoon. On the way back to the house we passed this row of bright orange blossoms. I looked online and these may be a mixture of Asclepias and Tithonia.
I still prefer purple though. I know, I sound like a broken record but I wish they had signs so I knew the names of the flowers.
The combinations below was just incredible! I think the term "ordered randomness" might accurately describe it!
The only sign visible was the one for the direction to the water garden.
The front of the house is carpeted with Pelagoniums, which are more commonly known as geraniums and are the most popular summer flower in France.
The house looks very large from the outside but they only allow you to see a small portion of it. As no photos are allowed inside I relied on the postcards I purchased to show the interior. One of the first rooms on view was the Salon.
|Postcard of Salon at Claude Monet house Giverny|
Before leaving was the kitchen area. The tiles were amazing! The stove was pretty neat too!
|Monet Kitchen Giverny|
The house was interesting but not worth spending more than 10 minutes. I popped back outside and met up with my mother who was relaxing on one of the benches. It was now past lunch time and our stomachs were rumbling. I was a little confused which way to get to the restaurants. I think we turned right and walked toward some buildings in the distance. This wasn't where I intended to go but we came upon a Creperie which was also part of a hotel. It looked nice and I was thrilled we could taste some galettes during our brief Normandy visit.
|Creperie and Hotel|
We asked to be seated and were directed to a lovely table facing the grounds. Nearby was a middle aged Chinese couple who had not ordered yet. We needed to keep track of the time so as not to miss our train back to Paris. We ordered quickly and before the Chinese couple as they required a bit more explanation.
Understandably it must be hard when English is not your first language, but the way the Chinese man ordered his meal was very funny. He sounded robotic as he pronounced each and every syllable carefully with a pause between the words except for the last two and said, "I...would....like...to...order...theduck!". He had an exclamation at the end as if he was pleased to successfully complete the sentence. Hope he was not expecting Peking Duck. I don't know why I found it so amusing. I too struggle when trying to speak a French or Spanish but I hope it sounds better!.
We enjoyed the view of the trees and meadow while waiting for our meal to arrive.
It did not take long to be served. Both of our galettes were super! Mother had the Apple and ham galette.
I ordered the ham, potato and sour cream. They were huge and just as delicious or perhaps better than the ones we had in Bayeux a year ago. We finished every bite!
We both did a great job on our crepes and then I took the rock inside with our table number (505) to pay. The staff were so nice. They seemed very appreciative of our visit.
Sadly it was now time to walk back to the bus so we could return to Vernon for our train. I wish we could have stayed longer as there were some interesting galleries we missed along the way.
This exhibition looked quite nice. Wish we had the time.
We reached the buses and were soon heading back to Vernon.
|On the bus heading to Vernon|
|Vernon Train Station|
I noticed this adorable little girl with her father. She had the most beautiful blue eyes. She was just the cutest kid I have ever seen! I wanted take a photo of her but didn't want to creep anyone out so took it when she wasn't looking. It is a shame because you cannot see her enchanting blue eyes.
|A little princess|
We didn't have an exact plan on what to do when we returned to Paris. I thought we should take a walk around one of the lovely neighborhoods. My mother said she wanted to see some antique shops she remembered from a prior visit located near the Louvre. That sounded like the better option. Once we reached the train station we took a taxi there.
On the way we passed some iconic buildings including the Musee d'Orsay where paintings of Monet Water Lily collection reside.
This is a very popular area. It would have been nicer to view the the famous I.M Pei glass pyramid among the Louvre buildings lit at night.
I don't remember all the steel barricades from our prior Paris visits but it has been a while since we have been at the Louvre. When we toured the museums for the first time in 1981 I had a swollen eye from a bug bite and looked at everything with one eye halfway shut. The paintings were still beautiful! Back then at the Jeu du Palme you could walk right up to the Mona Lisa which is now behind a sheet of glass and is roped off.
Rain looked imminent at times but luckily it stayed dry.
|Leaving the Louvre|
Most of the shops are quite expensive and they have an exquisite assortment of items.
The building is designed around a central atrium with a large skylight. There are 3 floors but we only visited two of them.
The style of the building is very elegant with large chandeliers.
All the shops have large floor to ceiling windows displaying their merchandise.
This store sold a great assortment of fabulous looking canes and walking sticks.
This shop was more opulent and had a gorgeous clock in the window.
We really enjoyed the window shopping here as it was so easy to see everything without having to go inside any of the shops.
I feel in love with this necklace! Falize was a Paris jeweler in 1830's. Christie's recently sold one his pieces for $30,000 USD. I loved the purple amethyst and the gold was very good quality. At least I have a photo to remember it by.
My mother made a "happy stop" while I stood admiring the necklace. While I waited a man came by to tell me they were closing many of the shops to remove asbestos from the building. Sounds like a big undertaking.
We then made our way downstairs. They have lots of signs in case you forget where you are!
Although we didn't make any purchases I found the Louvre des Antiquaires very interesting. We still had more than an hour until dinner time and decided to take a stroll. As we were on the corner of the the Rue Saint Honore we proceeded down this vibrant street with its fashionable stores.
Rue Saint Honore
|Rue Saint Honore|
The outfits in this shop (especially the one in front) reminded me of my aunt who passed away 3 years ago. She was very stylish!
The wide Paris boulevards are wonderful for walking.
At the corner of the Hotel Vendome and a Chopard store.
As if we have not seen enough flowers today, we came upon the lovely florist Dani Roses.
Nearby was the new Mandarin Oriental hotel which is located in a former office building. We were invited by the doorman to come inside for a closer look.
|Mandarin Oriental Hotel|
We continued to enjoy our walk and the view.
The Longchamp display was creative.
We were now near the end of the street and our walk was almost over. We were really tired too!
Although it is quite famous, I have never actually been to Maxim's. The restaurant was founded in 1893. In the 1970's Brigitte Bardot caused a stir when she entered the establishment barefoot!
|Place de la Concorde|
|Fountain Place de la Concorde|
Joel Robuchon is a French Chef who came to prominence in the 1980's with several successful restaurants in France and a couple of TV cooking shows to boot. He famously retired at the age of 50. It was a brief rest. After visiting Japan many times his interest in Japanese cooking techniques plus his exposure to Spanish tapas bars gave birth to a new venture. Ten years after his supposed retirement he opened his first Joel Robuchon restaurant in Paris and one in Tokyo soon after. He now has restaurants in Paris, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Monaco and Taipei with a grand total of 25 Michelin stars, more than any other chef.
I was a bit clueless of the type of food he serves but looked at one of the menus online. It seemed like we would enjoy it. There are now two L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon restaurants in Paris, the original in St. Germain des Pres and the newer one at the top of the Champs Elysees.
The restaurant is attached to the Hotel Royal. The neighborhood around St. Germain des Pres is lovely and I thought as we were 20 minutes early we should take a little walk before our meal. Rue du Bac is a very attractive little street.
|Rue du Bac|
|Steel doors Joel Robuchon|
Everyone was waiting for the doors to open at 6:30 pm. This is the only time they take dinner reservations.
|Waiting for Joel Robuchon to open for dinner|
|Nice place setting|
We reviewed the a la carte menu and tried to figure out what to order.
|Left side of a la carte menu|
|Right side of a la carte menu|
Being a newbie, I was not sure how to proceed with ordering and the waitstaff were not being that helpful. I think we made a fatal mistake when my mother asked if they had a glass of wine less expensive than the one on the menu for 23€ . After that fiasco we were ignored for 15 minutes and couldn't place our food order either. We just sat there watching everyone else nibble away!
Other people were getting served near us and the service seemed to be working fine for them. They guy on my left was halfway done with his gazpacho soup before we even got a second glance from the waitstaff.
After speaking with the maitre d' we were promised better service by our waiter Mykial but I think they thought our frugality was a lost cause. I partially agree but they could still have treated us better.
We finally successfully ordered a few different dishes to share from the left side of the menu. We were told most people order 3 - 4 items per person from the left side and then 1 - 2 items from the right side. Really?!
|L' Atelier du Joel Robuchon Paris|
|Stuffed Clams with Garlic and Violet|
|Lobster Ravioli with truffles|
Although our dining experience wasn't going well, our neighbors were more successful. The gentlemen to my left seemed to be having a religious experience from his pied du cochon to his steak and especially his mashed potatoes!
|Pied du Cochon|
Our guest to the right had the seared Foie Gras which also looked pretty good too. Though we soon learned that all was not perfect with those ordering the special 9 course menu. The waitstaff kept trying to introduce wine pairings with each dish. The people to our right kept having to decline this offer and you could tell they were getting annoyed by the pushy staff. The restaurant apparently likes to make a killing selling liquor.
My mother had a sabayon with chocolate and coffee. She said it was delicious!
|Sabayon of Chocolate and Coffee|
|Parfum des Iles|
|Robuchon Birthday Guest|
It is doubtful I would ever go to another L' Atelier du Joel Robuchon again. That being said, we had a very limited sampling and cannot adequately evaluate the full menu. As I mentioned previously, had we done the set menu with the 9 courses we may have come away with a more favorable experience.
We bid adieu to Mykial and the rest of the surly waitstaff and went outside to get a taxi. Since we finished dinner in just over one hour, we still had time to take the boat tour along the Seine. I have not done this in over 20 years. As Paris is remarkable at night and we still had lots of energy it seemed like a great idea. It might brighten our spirits too.
We arrived by taxi at the perfect time to do this at dusk. The Bateaux Mouches is a very popular venue and I think our boat tour at 9:00 pm was perhaps the last one of the day before closing time.
The line seemed very long and snaked around but it moved quickly and we soon had tickets. We then moved at a snails pace toward the boat. We climbed a short row of stairs and then found seats on the right side. Before we knew it we were off!
|Dusk along the Seine|
Our mood was brightened when we saw the sparkling Eiffel Tower with the lights twinkling on the hour. On the way back we would get a much closer look.
Some of the bright spotlights on the shore made seeing the buildings easier but taking photos was more challenging.
|Dinner Boat cruise|
They do a great job with lighting the buildings so you can see them from the river.
|Notre Dame Cathedral|
Paris architecture is truly amazing!
We passed under several bridges during our tour.
They had recorded commentary in French, English and Mandarin. I don't remember what this building is. It looks like a castle!
|Musee d'Orsay at night|
There were lots of smaller boats on the river too. This is near one of the more impressive bridges.
We were now back at the Eiffel Tower which is the highlight of the Seine boat trip.
I took lots of photos of the tower trying to get the perfect one!
|Eiffel Tower with Chinese Tourists|
Being on the river may be the best place to get a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night.
You can see the lower restaurant quite well in this photo.
We had a great time on the Seine seeing the sights at night. The tour soon ended and we disembarked and tried to find a taxi. They had tons of buses to pickup the people leaving the boat and we walked in the same direction they were headed. Unfortunately this was not a good idea as there were no taxis there. Everything was closing down and we were not sure what the best place was to locate a taxi. We started to walk the 20 minutes back to the ticket office which was now closed when a taxi came by dropping someone off. A miracle! We ran over and he luckily was willing to take us back to our hotel. We certainly did a lot today!
Tomorrow we will spend most of the day in Paris until the late afternoon when we will take a train to Cologne, Germany. Our vacation is almost over!