Monday, October 26, 2015

leaving Giverny

I wake up to thick fog. A forecast of winter sunshine (have I jumped forward in thought to winter already?) often brings with it morning fog, but this heavy mist is tenacious: by the time my train pulls out of Vernon (or, Vernon-Giverny) at 10:53, the air remains dense and moist and the skies, insofar as you could look up far enough to call them skies, remain gray.

I had a gift of two beautiful days. It is time to leave.

Breakfast first. Michel and Francine Henri are so good at this -- the cart, filled with warm breads, cheeses, cereals, fruits is wheeled in, they tactfully retreat.


But over my second cup of coffee, they're back and we take the time to talk.

I'm curious enough to ask rather bluntly -- so what did you do here, in Giverny for all those years? Les Arceaux has only been up and running for about two years. They've lived here for thirty. What was the income source before? (And you don't need to be good at math to understand that renting out just one unit isn't a life sustaining income anyway.)

Before retiring, he was a professional photographer based in Paris. His specialty: trains. And people, but trains. For example, you'll find his work in this book:


Two artists (she paints, though she is a hobbyist about it). No wonder their b&b is so very beautiful. Every detail is important. Nothing is by chance.

I do go out for a brief walk. A mist can be splendid as it settles in ribbons into a river valley. But this is not one of those. All I see is thick fog.


Though in the village, the color never disappears.


Not in October anyway.


I'll leave Giverny with this in mind.


It's time to head back. Les Arceaux is now added to my favorite few: places that I will go back to because everything about the experience of staying there is beautiful and the hosts add that layer of perfection that, perhaps unbeknownst to them, makes them now not just hosts, but friends.

Their vacation from renting starts now (I'm their last one for the season). Their next guest will herald the coming of spring.

The train ride to Paris is easy - no person on tracks today!


As I alight in the city, I think to myself -- maybe I could squeeze in a walk. I have a very complicated future airline ticketing issue to take care of at the airport (don't get me started on using Air France miles -- it could not be more difficult!), but even so, if the trains run on schedule, I should have time for about a 45 minute walk. I am so rarely on the Right Bank of Paris (except with walks to the west, in the Marais). Perhaps I could wheel my suitcase through this very urban feeling part of the city. (If Paris is a composite of neighborhoods, I could never figure out what the neighborhood is around Opera, Madelaine, Louvre. It all feels stark, busy, too grand to ever call your own, even if you have the money to live here. Still, it makes for a nice walk today.)

A few random photos, of the kind where I walk hurriedly and snap a few things that catch my eye.

Leaving the station:


A cigarette break in red:


Passing through:


If you're into grand department stores, you'd come here:


Best friends forever, passing in front of Opera:


If I were into overindulgence, I might eat every macaron on this wheel:


Who is the more flashy dresser in your relationship?


I don't think I ever walked this way before:


Will Snowdrop be this old when she comes to Paris? (BTW, all these scarves are so misleading: it's 60F outside right now! For Ed, that's shorts weather!)


Not unusual in any way, but lovely nonetheless:


I'll leave you with the pastries that caught my eye. I've more or less convinced myself that I don't really enjoy sweets, but I make exceptions: for dark chocolate. For apple tart in Normandy. For these.


I'm at the airport waiting for my evening flight to Warsaw. Tomorrow, I'll post from there.