Thursday, June 30, 2016


I am quite sure that when you travel,  unless you have endured some terribly dramatic event (and it better be dramatic), you may as well spare your audience a recounting of your travel woes. Hey, you signed onto this travel thing. You could have stayed home and watched the fireflies spark in your yard, but no, you insisted on turning your back on all that beauty. So don't grumble now when things aren't going according to plan.

But how about your travel successes? Should we write about those? I don't think so. It's boastful to tell of all that went right. He he, I got upgraded, the champagne flowed freely and the chair reclined, the plane came in early... Go ahead and enjoy it, but keep it to yourself. No one learns anything about the wider world from such braggings.

And so I tend not to write too much about the travel itself. Even though of course, travel took up the better part of the day and all of the night for me. I'll say this much -- I had such a pathetically easy arrival in Paris and that was a pleasant surprise, because France is embroiled in terrible labor disputes, causing numerous strikes and work stoppages, so that you cannot count on anything moving smoothly here right now.

But I'm not staying in Paris. Not until the very end of my ten days away and then only for a night. I'm heading first north, then south and so just getting to Paris did not place me yet in my final destination.

My home for the first two nights is the home of Michel and Francine Henri in Giverny. I told them back at the very beginning of November during my last visit to Giverny, that I would return when Monet's garden was nearing its peak and even though I spoke only wistfully then, it turned out that a visit here fit just perfectly into this current trip through France.

The short little train ride from Paris to Vernon/Giverny is where the delays and tardys and unexplained travel issues arose. But who cares. By early evening I am in Giverny, at the wonderful bed and breakfast called Les Arceaux.

But I'm not abandoning the story of my getting here too quickly. Because things went so smoothly, I have a few hours to spare in Paris before my train is scheduled to depart (oh, the benefits of traveling light!). I detour to the Luxembourg Gardens and walk along some of those lovely streets where Snowdrop and I frittered away the hours not so long ago.

In general, Paris feels cool (in the low seventies F) and just a little quiet.

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I dont think the summer exodus has happened yet, though perhaps everyone's getting ready for it. At any rate, I enjoy a very peaceful stroll through the park.

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And I go to the same old bakery to pick up a sandwich for the train ride and again I cast a nostalgic eye on the strawberry tart that I had purchased here for Snowdrop...

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I was trying to decide if I had time for a cup of coffee, when I come across an exhibition of ceramic art out on the square just before the Saint Sulpice church. It must have been the grand opening of this, because there are a lot of artsy people milling around...

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... and there seems to be a small bar set up where young servers are pouring beverages that look like fruit juice and I accept my glassful readily enough, as travel tends to make you thirsty, realizing only after a few gulps that it is a spiked punch and so the rest of my minutes in Paris are pleasantly fuzzy.

(Most of the designs were rather free form and abstract, but these more traditional plates certainly caught my interest. I mean -- did the artist visit our brood at the farmette???)

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At the Vernon/Giverny train station, poor Michel has to endure the wait for my very late train.But all that's in the past. It surely is good to finally walk the main street of the lovely village of Giverny again.

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The yard of the bed and breakfast certainly looks green and vibrant now.

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Michel tells me it's been a brutally wet spring. At one point the decision was made to close Monet's garden out of a fear that flooding would ruin the walkways through it. Things are calm now, but the weather here is far from settled and indeed, as I head out to find something to eat, the rains come down again.

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I pause at the Hotel Baudy, which isn't a hotel anymore but a place where you can get reliably okay if not especially memorable meal. (You don't come to Giverny if you insist on eating the best of the best in France.)

I walk home when it should be dark, but of course, in June in northern Europe, darkness is elusive. That's just fine with me -- the longer the day, the more I feel I am given a chance to savor the arrival of summer.

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Tomorrow I'll take a peak at what a carefully designed garden looks like on July 1st. You learn a lot by studying carefully  the work of gardening giants.