July 21 : Forget Paris

Oh no! CRISIS! We’re in France. And we’re hungry. We might starve.

Somehow, I think we’ll figure it out.

Breakfast is delicious!

But it’s time to go! Andre is ready to take us out of town. On the way out, we pass the modern part of Paris, La Defense. I don’t know why it’s called that but only French could make a building and remove the building part of the building. Dear, I present to you, the empty building.

It would be nice to go to Versailles. I’ve heard it’s an incredible place – but then, France is full of pretty incredible places. We’re headed to the northwest to get to the coast and Versailles is too far south.

As Andre rambles west out of Paris, you find yourself waiting and anticipating something…something different, something uniquely French…and it’s just not that exciting. In fact, it’s a little disappointing. It just kind of looks like suburban sprawl. We could be in Illinois as much as France. 

But then things begin to change. The air is clearer. The road is cleaner. The trees are taller and the land begins to bundle up into gentle rolling hills. The temperature outside is perfect – 25 degrees (or 78° F). The windows are down and the wind is whipping your hair. The whole scene is making you sleepy but we’re just arriving at our first stop.

Cloude Monet’s Home in Giverny

The house and gardens in Giverny was Monet’s home, studio and inspiration from 1883 until he died in 1926. The place is beautiful but the feeling that can’t be described is how it feels like you’re walking through works of art. A little bridge here, some water lilies or a bundle of flowers catches our eye and sparkles a million little memories of paintings we’ve seen before. There is very little of his art here but there are so many other things to see – like you, on a small Japanese bridge, bathed in sunlight, warm and as comfortable as can be.

Nearby, we’ll drive by the Old Mill of Vernon – yet another subject painted by Monet.


By now, we’ve crossed the Seine about 42 times. It’s meandered it’s way out of Paris on it’s oxbow-filled path to the ocean. Jumping back and forth along our journey, it lazily leads us to our next stop. 

The Ruins of the Jumiège Abbey

I’ll not ruin this stop with words. The ghosts in these images will speak for themselves.

We tear ourselves away from this gorgeous place just as the sun is setting. It really has been a very long day. We have a tired three hour drive to our next stop and our place for the night.

As we approach our lodgings, you start to feel and smell the sweet salt air of where land meets sea. We’re near the coast. It’s very dark. It’s very foggy. We can’t see much of where we’re headed. There are no lights to the left – no lights to the right. We seem to be bounding down a narrow strip cast out straight through the fog. Up ahead, the light of a fuzzy glowing mountain barely squeezes through the mists. Even we get closer, it’s difficult to make out the shape of where we have arrived but you can tell a few things…we’re near the sea, we’re surrounded by water and we’re beginning to drive uphill. And just as you’re coming to grips with that, we stop.

It’s time for Andre to rest. It’s time for us to rest. Welcome to our home for the night. Tomorrow is another big day.