I crack myself up sometimes!
Well, our river cruise is coming to an end soon… just today and then our last full day in Paris tomorrow… this morning we woke up in Vernon, France… the town closest to one of today’s highlights the Gardens and Home of Claude Monet located in Giverny, France.
Today is going to be an interesting day for many reasons.. while we wake up in Vernon and take the bus to Claude’s place… the ship will move and when we are done we will actually catch the ship in Mantes-la-Jolie. After we have our lunch on the ship some of us will be travelling on to see the Palace of Versailles as an optional tour while others will stay on the ship as it sails to Conflans St. Honorine. It stays there just long enough for the Versailles people to rejoin the ship and then it is off to Paris… so while we are traveling on land, the ship is traveling up the Seine to join us. Very interesting as I have never been on a river cruise where the ship relocated while we were on land and so many times!
So… one of the highlights of today is the House and Garden of Claude Monet. Claude spent the last 40 or so years of his life in Giverny. At first he rented this home and later he bought it and some of the surrounding land. Claude’s love of painting ran equally to his love of gardening… I can relate (just to the gardening.. the only painting I do are rooms in my house).
We started with his fish pond which was the inspiration of many of his paintings… as the guide explained the lighting of the area and how it comes through the trees and plants and reflects off the stillness of the water. Just take a look at this picture of the lily pads.. it is hard to figure out what is coming out of the water and what isn’t… but this is just a picture of lily pads… all the other shapes and flowers or trees are just a reflection from above on the water.. beautiful (thanks Ilyse… great photo!!)
The area was packed… so unfortunately many of our pictures of the serene pond shows rows and rows of people also trying to take that perfect shot of the pond…. while August is the month that many French go on vacation and leave the country it is also the month that it seems that the rest of the world comes to visit!
We left the pond and walked up to the house area… we were given time to wander through the gardens and then visit the home itself… of course afterwards there is that ever present gift shop that is set up in what would be Claude’s last painting studio that was built shortly before his death.. (could he foresee the 21st Century and our need for Monet coffee mugs, lighters and calenders?) Just down the road there is also a small museum that focuses on other impressionist painters also. We had time to walk through that as well.
After we took the motor coaches back to the ship.. had our lunch and then Ilyse and I were on our way to the Palace of Versailles. I have never been and I was very excited to see what has been described as the most opulent Palace ever built.
Some facts (naturally that I found interesting because after all this is my blog) surrounding the Palace:
The palace is 51,000 square meters (550 sq ft), has 2,153 windows, 67 staircases, and nearly 2000 acres of gardens
Construction of the palace cost around 116,438,892 Livres. Today, this amounts to approximately 2 billion dollars
The garden is just as impressive as the palace, covering 1,976 acres (800 hectares) in a structured French Garden style. It has 200,000 trees, 50 fountains with 620 jets of water, and 210,000 flowers planted every year
The Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors in 1919, ending World War I
Now this last fact leads nicely to my next photo. My whole adult life I had heard about the Hall of Mirrors.. seen pictures… have visited other European castles and palaces that have imitated bits and pieces so to say that I was excited about seeing the Hall was really an understatement. So as we progressed through the Palace.. seeing various sitting rooms, chapels and what not we round the corner to see the Hall and what do I find?
Yes what seems to be 1,000 of my closest friends also standing around the Hall of Mirrors… now maybe the reflection of the mirrors might have made it seem like 1,000 but I would say that there were at least a couple of hundred people in that hall.. all bumping and crowding etc. It was basically that way throughout the whole time we were at the Palace.. now looking at the grounds was very nice because it was a little less confining. The Palace was beautiful to look at but unfortunately when you have so many people packed in at one time it did take away from the experience… I might go back one day and if so maybe during the winter months it might not be so crowded? What I would really go back to see again though would be the Gardens!
Here is a hint… I hear that they rent Golf Carts so that you can travel around all of the Gardens without having to walk them. This is a great idea if you have someone traveling with you (or yourself) that would love to venture out to see all the grounds but would have issues with walking those long distances.
All in all it was a very long day filled with so much to see. Ilyse had a wonderful time as did I. Tomorrow is the last full day of the cruise… tonight is the Captain’s Farewell Dinner and we celebrated Ilyse’s 16th Birthday on board! As always she was the Belle of the Ball!
I hope you have been enjoying my travels through the north of France. Tomorrow everything will be coming to an end, but remember, if this has gotten those wheels turning in your head of a visit to France… you know who to call! (Hey… my credit card bill is due to arrive any day now… oh là là !!