Our first day in Paris was glorious, we had beautiful sunshine and took a trip to visit beautiful Monet’s Garden and fascinating house at Giverny. The trip across from London in the Eurostar the previous day was seamless – far easier than flying! You go through the French border when you board at St Pancras station and I really didn’t notice the time under the Channel (mind you, I was chatting to Ros, one of my oldest friends and one of the people who had joined me for the French art retreat.)
On arrival we moved into the Hotel Castex in the 4th Arrondissement (near Place de la Bastille) via Uber as we had luggage – again very easy. Once there and settled we met up with Di and ventured out for a glass of wine and dinner in a bistro in the Place des Vosges and checked out some modern art galleries. On our return to the hotel, Robyn arrived from the airport ready for our planned trip to Monet’s Garden at Giverny the next day.
Our first full day started with a typically French continental breakfast of croissants, baguettes and coffee and then a glorious walk along the river Seine to
the Ile St Louis, Notre Dame and the Ile de la Cité. Incredible weather, sunshine, the flowers exquisite – he blooms, pleached trees as only the Europeans do, the ancient Cathedral of Notre Dame with its flying buttresses, gargoyles and incredible carvings on the front. The forecourt was crowded with tourists and schoolchildren learning the history of the church and in the background was a bread festival and a competition to find the best baguette maker in France!
Our journey to Monet’s garden started after lunch and after navigating hideous Parisian traffic and holding our collective breaths as there were so frequently ‘near misses’ especially with motor cycle riders, we arrived at the Normandy village (500 inhabitants) of Giverny. Claude Monet lived here with his second wife for the the last half of his life and created the famous lily ponds, his spectacular garden and the Grand Decoratifs – the famous lily paintings which he gave to the people of France and which are housed in their own building, The Orangerie, which we will soon visit.