Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lundi a Giverny

Many Parisians were on the train Monday morning headed to work during the crazy rush hour, but we were headed to Gare de Paris Saint-Lazare to catch our 45-minute ride to Vernon.  We met our Fat Tire Tour guide, Thomas, at platform 22 and he gave us a lovely talk on Monet and the impressionist school as we traveled the rails on the way to Monet's home and gardens at Giverny.  During the trip, I had my book out and worked a bit taking some notes and playing with a turned face and some Peerless watercolors.  (There's some gesso texture on the page from a stencil, in case you're wondering what's on her cheek.)

At Vernon, we shopped a bit for picnic snacks before Thomas issued our bicycles for the ride to Giverny.  We all saddled up and got our "pedal feet" together before leaving the parking lot.  Angus asked if I wanted a photo and he caught this gem as I goofed and laughed. So funny!

We set off through the small town of Vernon by "dominating" as a group of bikers in the street.  Most of the stores and small businesses were closed since it was Monday, so the traffic was easy to manage.  We stopped at the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame to admire the medieval architecture and spent a few minutes inside.  The contemporary windows are so unique and unexpected!  They are mid-to-late 20th century replacements for windows destroyed during World War II.  This is just a little collage to show the shapes and colors...

We pedaled on over the Seine across a lovely bridge with a nice wide bike path and then landed in a small park where Thomas set up our picnic area.  There were dozens of ducks surrounding us, as they clearly know what's going on when a tarp comes out of a bag and people park their bikes.  I had a yummy baguette with roast beef and egg along with a delightful little lemon tart.  We shared some of the area's best hard cider--some sweet and some more dry.  We saw a couple of swans and I was surprised to hear my Australian friend, Sam, exclaim in delight that they were white.  Apparently, they only have black swans in her area near Brisbane. 

Grabbed the book for some quick sketching while Thomas, the guide, continued his chat.  We had this sweet little cabin next to our picnic so I used a randomly printed page (the blue background) in the book to make a quick sketch with pen and colored pencil.
After an absolutely lovely bike ride on an easy trail (which seemed easy at the time...later my knees did not delight after the hills!) and up the Rue Claude Monet through Giverny, we arrived at Monet's Garden to enjoy several hours of inspiration and relaxing with the light and scenery.

The riot of color and variety of shapes and sizes of the flora was amazing!  It was like walking into a wildflower jungle that just flowed from oranges and yellows to pinks and purples and reds and on and on. Of course I spent a few minutes doing a quick sketch of the water garden where Monet captured his waterlilies, but my favorite part was back by the house.

My Aunt Sara visted the garden just a couple of months ago and raved about them, so I thought of her and my mom as I wandered through and enjoyed the variety.  I know there were zinnia and daisies but beyond that, the shapes and sizes didn't really matter as they were all completely delightful!  I found a bench and used that cacophany to inspire this little flower girl portrait. Every one of the individual flowers was actually something I could see from my vantage point.  

You have to imagine smelling roses and lavendar and hearing a bee covered in pollen buzzing slowly between flowers...sweet and delightful. 


  1. Wonderful post. I could vision this through your description! What a joy.

  2. amazing adventure you are on. so enjoying reading about it! sandy

  3. I love the flower girl! You're artistic eye is incredible and I love your pen work! Catherine


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Charleston, SC, United States
I'm a retiree/artist/student who makes things. It's a nice kind of lifestyle!

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