Living in the Paris area, we find ourselves to be very lucky to be only a stone’s throw away from many destinations that make for perfect day trips. Giverny, being one of these nearby destinations, has been on my list of places to visit for months. So, this past weekend, the mister and I went on a little excursion to visit this quant village that Claude Monet called home during the latter half of his life and inspired many of his famous works.
With our picnic basket packed, we hopped into our car and headed west to the Haute-Normandie region. After an 80 km trek, we arrived in Vernon, a small, nearby city whose origins date back to the Middle Ages. The original plan was to explore this ancient city and then soak in the scenery while walking the 4 or 5 km to Giverny. With the sweltering heat, however, walking under the blazing sun was not going to happen. It was barely afternoon and I was already getting sunburned! Despite the heat and no shade in sight, we wandered around Vernon on foot nonetheless.
In need of some sweets to accompany the picnic that we had packed and wanting to savour the local flavor of Vernon, we went in search of some delectible pastries. None of the offerings at any of of the pâtisseries really piqued our interest, but we figured that we couldn’t go wrong with the one with the most patrons. Being a sugar feign, I had to have a nibble of the palmier as soon as it was in my hands….mmm, deliciousness, deliciousness that was no doubt imparted by the ungodly amount of butter that went into this giant cookie.
Eager to dig into the rest of the sweets, we scoped out a spot along the Seine to set up our picnic. The cool breeze under the shade gave us some relief from the heat while we enjoyed our meal. Unfortunately, the pastries that I had patiently awaited were a letdown, even though we had picked out what I thought were safe orders, a tarte aux pommes and a grillé aux pommes, which is kind of similar to apple pie. The tarte aux pommes lacked flavor and was stale, while the grillé aux pommes was filled with what tasted like canned apple sauce. Leaving our disappointment behind, we set off for our next destination, Giverny.
I was charmed as soon as I laid eyes on Monet’s gardens. Even in the midst of August and a heatwave, the flowers of the season were in full bloom and covered every inch of the gardens. I can’t even begin to describe the eyegasm I experienced upon seeing the famed pond and the remains of the water lilies. Not even the hoards of tourists (surprisingly, most of them being fellow Americans) could detract from the verdant beauty and peacefulness of Monet’s paradise.
Walking through his restored home and standing in the very salon where the artist himself sat was surreal. It felt as though we had been transported to another time past, as most of his furniture and things have been maintained and remain in their original places. We left feeling rejuvenated and look forward to another visit next spring when the weather will surely be cooler and there will hopefully be fewer tourists.
note: vendredi vietnamien will be back next week with a fresh new recipe!