Saturday, May 05, 2012

Paris, Day 3

After seeing so much of Paris, we were excited to take the train to Giverny and see Monet's Gardens. I have always loved Monet's art and couldn't wait to actually visit in person.

We took the 8:15 train from Gare St. Lazare and arrived in Vernon at 9:00.  A bus waits at the train stop to take tourists to Monet's home, but we rented bikes instead from a corner cafe.  The ride was an easy 4 miles and beautiful! It was a little drizzly, but didn't last long. We rode through the town of Vernon and then found the bike path for the rest of the way.

We had purchased our tickets to Monet's Gardens ahead of time online which again saved us a wait in line.  The Gardens open at 9:30 and we'd heard it was best to get their early before the crowds.  Also, tour the house first and then the gardens. We were glad for the advice as we could easily walk through the home when we arrived right at 9:30, but soon many, many tour buses arrived and the house got crowded.

Monet's house is so quaint and colorful and has been replicated as if he was still there with his paintings hanging in his studio -- and photos of him in his Family Room/Studio surrounded by his art.

Don't miss the signs to cross under the highway and visit the other side of the gardens -- the lake and bridges.

We spent about an hour at the Gardens. On our bike ride home we did stop at the Musee des Impressionismes but it was an exhibition of one artist. We went through, but wouldn't recommend it as a must-see.

Back on our bikes, I made us stop every few minutes to take more pictures of the homes along the lane. Every one was so charming and quintessential European countryside.  We also stopped at the cemetery to see Monet's grave. It's just off the side of the road and takes 2 minutes to walk up the the grave and get going again.

We made it back to Vernon in plenty of time to visit the Saturday Farmer's Market (Saturdays from 8:00 - 1:00 p.m.)  We parked our bikes at a bike stand and then wandered the market stalls and bought lunch (baguette sandwiches, of course, with pain au chocolate for dessert).

After returning our bikes, we ate lunch on a bench outside the train stop and took the 12:53 return train to Paris.  We had plenty of time to explore the area, ride easily and enjoy the gardens (and gift shop) in Giverny, wander the Farmer's Market in Vernon and still make the return train at 12:53.

Arriving back in Paris, we were an easy subway ride to the Moulin Rouge area and Montmartre. We walked passed the Mouline Rouge just to say we'd seen it and take a picture, then followed Rick Steves' historic walking tour up to Montmartre.

Can't pass up a crepe!

We LOVED the energy--all the people, the artists, performers and street cafes!  

Sacre Ceour -- We didn't get a chance to go in... Next time!

View from Sacre Ceour -- we couldn't decide to come here or Eiffel Tower on our last night in Paris.

 My favorite were the accordian players. It was exactly how I'd picture an evening in Paris!

 We also visited the Salvadore Dali museum exhibiting many of his sculptures. 
Very comprehensive review of his life and work.

We headed home for our late afternoon nap. When we woke up, it was pouring outside. Yep, Paris is still beautiful in the rain.  We took the subway down to the Latin Quarter for a fondue restaurant on a narrow pedestrian-only street. We were seated right by the window which was fun to see all the tourists passing by.  After, instead of taking the subway, we took a cab home so we could see Paris at night. We drove up the Seine and saw the lamp lit bridges as well as the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkling on the hour.  Everything was always turning out perfect!

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