Tulips, spring, a special place: it’s been years back that we visited, but Claude Monet‘s home and garden in Giverny, and how we got there, stands out as a special memory.
We went to Paris as newly weds and visited Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries. It felt so serene in the oval room viewing Monet’s Water Lilies, Nymphéas.
Later that night, we had dinner and strolled around Saint-Germain-des-Prés. We found ourselves in a bookstore; a remembrance of that trip is a book on Impressionist art.
Paris in spring was our sweet, romantic start to married life.
We were on our way home when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano erupted and shut down the European airspace. It was chaotic.
We could not get back to the US and were stressed because we both needed to return to our jobs. Frantic messages were sent and once we accepted we really could not fly out for at least a couple of days — which was what we were told at that time with no guarantees — agreed that we will at least try not to feel guilty about it and make the best of the situation.
Over ‘specially good (with deliberate reference to the children’s book Anatole) Osso Bucco, or Jarret de Veau, as we were, after all in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, decided to proceed to explore northern France.
The train from Paris to Rouen took about two hours.
We visited the Rouen Cathedral, Gothic in design. We remember the Rouen Cathedral looking lace-like from Monet’s paintings. Monet captured and depicted light and fleeting moments of the day with the Cathedral.
We said our prayers. Nostra Clemens, accipe vota. Accept and watch over our vows. May steadfast love be the light of our journey in this ever-changing world.
We then proceeded to explore Rouen’s historic quarters.
The brave, the holy, the industrious and the creative had been here. And they left their indelible marks.
We tasted Calvados (apple brandy from Normandy), learned that Calvados are best tasted at room temperature in a tulip shaped glass and had crêpes flambéed with Calvados.
From Rouen, it was a short train ride to Vernon. From Vernon, we biked to Giverny. It was not on the original itinerary, but what a thrill it was to bike in the French countryside.
We arrived at Claude Monet’s house…
Walking into Claude Monet’s garden was like walking into an Impressionist painting.
How can anyone have anything but cheerful thoughts at the sight of Claude Monet’s pink and green house with its bright yellow kitchen?
Or his garden with its cacophony of colors?
Just for one day. Banish the worries. Yes, a volcano is erupting in Iceland and we are stuck. But we have love, each other, one perfect day, one special place. Cocooned by beauty. Freeze the moment. Framed it and made it forever ours.
France is absolutely gorgeous and delicious. With the extra time, we were also able to see Lisieux and became more familiar with the different arrondissements of Paris.
In marriage, having a family, life in general, unexpected events happen. Sometimes it gets frustrating when trips and dreams cost more (time, money and emotions) than originally planned. Take heart. Those “sometimes” might lead to warm spring days, tulips and great memories.
Spring makes us look forward to the future and be grateful for the present and the past. We hope to someday be able to return to Paris then to Giverny with our children, bike the same route and maybe stretch the trip to also see Mont Saint-Michel and the beaches of Normandy.
-Victor and Kathleen