By car through Normandy

•Haute Normandy
•Mont St-Michel
•The Loire Valley






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Giverny is a tiny village. We stayed in La Musardiere, an old house turned small hotel, within walking distance of the entrance to the gardens. First thing the next morning, after breakfast in the hotel (croissants, of course - predictable but necessary!) we were at the gates when they were opened. Coming independently, you enter through an enticing gift shop and can easily immediately go into the house. Group busses park at the bottom of the garden.

The weather was unpredictable: great clouds, then sunshine; then rain enough to pull out the umbrella. But not an overcast day, really. Changeable.

Monet's house is livable and nice. A big comfortable common room, lined in wood, and then the famous dining room in yellow (VERY yellow) and blue. The kitchen as well. Throughout the house there are a great many Japanese prints and he obviously got inspiration from them. The kitchen is charming, with a great iron stove. The outside of the house is stucco and wood, the stucco being just the shade of pink to show off the cherry and apple trees blooming alongside it.

The flower garden - the Clos Normand - is spread out across the path to the house. Formal design with a lot of espaliered rose bushes, wisteria, etc, not yet in bloom, but at their feet what must be half an acre of bulbs and bedding plants. You go down a stair and under the little state road to get to the water garden where the water lilies bloom and the bridge holds school kids on holiday. But this was the beginning of the week before Easter and it was early, so at first there weren't many other visitors or groups. By the time we left though it was becoming crowded and you could see that in high season the place would be unbearable.

Monet wanted to live in this region because of the light. Apparently the weather we witnessed is a common occurrence: overcast to rain to sun to partly cloudy, one after another in procession with the light on the flowers and the bridge and the water changing constantly.

The juxtaposition of colors in the flower garden was fascinating; we couldn't take enough pictures! But the arrangement of the bamboos and the water and the bridges and the little boats in the "water garden" was just marvelous. The whole place more than lived up to our expectations.

We visited nearby Vernon for picnic supplies and a couple of meals. Charming little town with many half-timbered houses which seems to be turning into a commuter's suburb. And drove on to Rouen.