Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mona and Monet

I am once more between books, having finished the latest iteration of Mona in the Desert a few hours ago. It is such a perfect and beautiful story. Heartbreaking, of course, and yet insisting upon love and hope as eternal truths. It is simply baffling to me, that I should live with a man who can create such amazingly beautiful worlds. Less cheery, of course, is living in a world where such perfect gems face such a battle to reach a wider audience. But this one, I say, this one no one could possibly turn away. Fingers crossed and all. Chapter Nine, I tell you, oh chapter nine . . .

Patience Quince fans may recognize these as Charolais cows; they live across from M.  Monet's place
But back to the Giverny Adventures! When last spotted our intrepid international cyclists were approaching Giverny. They passed a horse across the highway and continued on up through slight elevation gains, along ever-smaller roads featuring B&Bs and art galleries, passing the line of people pictured yesterday and also some parking lots, in search of someplace obvious to lock their bikes and a giant sign reading "MONET'S HOUSE HERE." This took them along a stretch of that previously referenced highway where traffic was largely nonexistent, to reach a spot with a bike rack, just as a gentle rain started to fall, or such is my memory anyway.

After locking up the bikes, perhaps with a few moments' pause to wonder who would be crazy enough to steal them, we walked along to find ourselves reaching the crowd in line we had passed earlier, noting as we did so, the parking lot, with bike racks, across the street which we must have passed ten minutes earlier. "Merde," we did not say, because, really, it wasn't that big a deal. Scott stood in line while I first took photos of the butterfly posted yesterday and then went across to the nearest cafe to buy some of the crappiest coffee to be found in all of France. Still, it was nice to have a snack while standing in line, for we had brought baked goods from Paris. (And I managed to collect a few extra sugar packets!)
Sewing cabinet wallpaper

 Monet's house is pretty small but oh! so very charming. There is a teeny tiny sewing closet which has the dearest wall paper (see right). The bedrooms are also charmant but it's really the kitchen that makes one want to remodel one's own house to match. (Seriously, some days later we were at a kitchen shop in Les Halles and Scott had to invoke what the weight would do to the expense of our baggage check to stop me from investing in all new copper pots and pans.) God, it was gorgeous, that man's kitchen.
Monet's pots and pans

Monet's tile
Looking out Monet's bedroom window, as one does
But, when you think about Monet's output, you don't remember his famous paintings of of interiors, do you? That's because he also had some amazing gardens. Even in late September they were gorgeous. Admittedly, there is a not insignificant staff of gardeners working to keep them looking nice for the tourists but still. You can't force nasturiums and sunflowers and the like to bloom out of season, can you? I don't know; maybe you can. All I know is that there were tons of beautiful flowers everywhere, and gobsmacking bees. Also a few charming chickens.

 You go through a tunnel to get to the water lily ponds which were just so damned much like stepping into a painting. (Aside: the tunnel was put in by some neighboring official or another; one assumes he got tired of having to slow to allow tourists to wander across the road and so voted some public funds to install a tunnel. One might be entirely mistaken about that.)  I may have written this earlier but I repeat it nonetheless; I don't know how Monet found time to paint; were I in his place, I would have found it impossible to stop looking long enough to pick up a paintbrush. It was a darned lovely spot. While we posed for photos on one of the bridges, a man in a boat punted his way through, clearing less than photogenic bits and pieces from the water.
We assume this was Monet's great-nephew who was very disappointed to learn he hadn't inherited the place but rather had to work to earn his keep.

 Eventually we had to make our way back towards Vernon, though we made stop or two en route--and yes, one of those stops was to admire a cat sitting on the hood of someone's car in the alley one cycles thorugh. And, since Scott mentioned them in yesterday's comment, I share also a snap of les cormorants:

We were pleased to get the bikes returned without incident and to have time for a quick beer while waiting for the train to take us back to Paris. 

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