Friday, October 23, 2015

to France!

You could give many titles to this post. For example:
That was one hell of a long haul!
or: It's the small stuff that brings joy, but, too, it's the small stuff that can screw you over;
or: Hey, all's well that ends well;
or: I'm in a beautiful place eating a wonderful dinner so let's just raise a glass of vin rose to France!

It does seem like I was stuck with rather a convoluted way of getting to where I am -- the village of Giverny, due north of Paris. I remember sitting at the airport in Detroit at 8 p.m. on Thursday and thinking -- I've been up and at it since 6 a.m. and I've only gotten to Detroit, which, if accessed directly, is a mere 50 minute flight from Madison.

Still, my flights were all on time -- how good is that! Indeed, we arrived at the Paris airport today at 11a.m. -- a whole half hour ahead of schedule.

Then came the unexpected. From the airport, I still had two commuter trains to take and then a northbound train that would bring me as close as I can get to Giverny. But I had so much time! Michel, my B&B host in Giverny was to meet the 2:20 from Paris (arriving in Vernon-Giverny at 3:05). So much time!

It was too late for breakfast at the airport, but I grabbed a poached egg and mini sandwich ...


... purchased my various rail tickets and ambled over to the commuter train, wondering what I was going to do with so much time at the Gare St Lazare (train station) where I'd get on the 2:20 heading north.

I needn't have worried. The ominous message began its repetitious play and replay a few minutes after the commuter train left the airport: there has been a serious accident at one of the stations. All schedules are disrupted.

What should have been a 29 minute ride into Paris turned into a two hour crowded stop-an-go ride, with that somber voice reminding us again and again that there has been a serious accident at one of the stations. (Some tragic event befell a person, which I can only guess involved an unfortunate meeting of said person with railway tracks.)

And so I didn't have a pleasant walk through Paris. I had a standing room only long ride on a commuter train and then a run through tunnels and up stairs, suitcase in hand to my waiting train at Gare St. Lazare. I need say no more.

You know from one of the proposed post titles that I made it. (With five minutes to spare.)

The train trip north is actually quite lovely, in all seasons. The rail line hugs the Seine River and you can just imagine that these are the views that so enchanted painters of the early twentieth century.


The last time I traveled here (as always, on a day trip from the city), I met a chatty woman who explained that Giverny is grand not only for the Monet house and garden. She herself was going to the village for the hiking in the area.

So wouldn't October be perfect for both the gardens and for autumnal village walks?

The painter's gardens actually close next week for the season (to reopen at the end of March) and I expect there to be a lot of faded blooms. And far fewer visitors. It should be different and therefore interesting and beautiful.

I'm staying at Les Arceaux -- a guest house that someone on the internet described as being like a small apartment but without the kitchen.  The owners, Michel and Francine, live in a separate wing of the house. It's a beautiful little place!



It's late afternoon. I'm immensely tired and hungry, but I cannot resist that first village walk.


But I hold back on entering Monet's garden. That's for another day. Right now, I'm just soaking it all in.




I eat an early dinner at the Baudy:


It's a welcoming place: it's historically important. It's modest in price. It's well regarded by tourists (and there are always plenty of them) and it's well regarded by locals (and there are plenty of them as well).


There are many, many galleries in this small village and wherever you walk, you'll come across a painter with an easel out.

But tonight, I have only enough energy to eat a hearty Normande meal: duck salad, fish, a baked apple. Tomorrow, the world. Tonight -- blissful sleep.