Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, Giverny and the Arch of Triumph

The last day of our vacation began with a trip to Monet's gardens at Giverny, and it was a day of overwhelming beauty.  We started by taking a train from the St. Lazare station to Vernon, and then continued by bus to the town of Giverny, about four miles away.
After seeing so many of Monet's paintings at the Marmotten and Orangerie galleries, I was extremely excited to be able to see these beautiful gardens in person.  But first, we stopped and had some lunch - we split a lovely salad and a cheese plate featuring some local favorites.
We decided to thoroughly explore the adorable little town before heading to Monet's place.  It's basically all on one street so this only took about twenty minutes.  There were lots of old stone buildings and flowers everywhere.



This is one of the paths into Monet's gardens.  The whole time we were there it felt like we had entered one of his paintings.  This place has an amazing vibe - it's really quite magical, dream-like almost.  I'm so glad we had plenty of time for a relaxed visit because it was hard to leave all of that beauty and peacefulness behind at the end of the day.

Compulsive picture taking was in full force - I really wanted to capture everything, not that I possibly could.  But I tried.  I took so many photos that I don't even know if I have the best ones posted here.  The place is so incredibly photogenic that I ended up with a ridiculous number of pictures to choose from.  So this is kind of a random, but representative, assortment of things I saw that day.

Here is the lily pond that was the subject of many of Monet's most famous paintings.  Because of the amazing light and the way the sky reflects on the water, even a basic photograph looks painting-like. 

This is one of the bridges that appeared in a number of Monet's paintings, now loaded up with tourists.  It's a lovely place to be a tourist though, being able to see what he saw, and imagining how the exact same scene resulted in so many different paintings.


After we finished exploring the gardens we headed for the house.

Inside there were many paintings that don't usually get featured in books or museums, because they stay right here in Monet's house.  Duh!

They don't want people taking pictures inside the house but I couldn't help myself!  Anyone who has been to my house would know that I LOVE the color scheme here.  I feel somewhat validated in my choices now, hahaha!

Look at this amazing kitchen!  This color makes me so happy - I could stare at this picture all day!
The next two pictures were taken out of the train window as we were leaving Vernon, which I guess is why they both have sort of an aqua cast to the over all color.

It was incredibly convenient to have our hotel so close to the St. Lazare station.  It wasn't the quietest neighborhood that we could have stayed in, but we appreciated being in such a central location every single day.  We walked either to or from nearly every single place we went over the course of our stay in Paris. 
So after a day on our feet, we walked the half block to our hotel and relaxed for a little while before walking to our final destination, the Arch of Triumph, better known as the Arc de Triomphe, for one last overview of this beautiful city.

I think this was our third attempt to get there in time to go to the top before closing time.  It stayed light pretty late in Paris at that time of year, so it was always later than we thought.

The view from the top seemed to beg for a panoramic shot, but it came out rather distorted.  This is a half-circular view to the east, compressed into a straight line.  You can just barely see Montmartre (to the northeast) on the left and the Eiffel Tower (to the south) is on the right.  The Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of a huge traffic circle with many intersecting streets.  The streets in this shot, starting on the left, are Avenue Hoche, Avenue de Friedland, Champs Elysees, Marceau, and D'Iena.

The photo below shows Avenue Friedland and Champs Elysees in better proportion.

Here's a panoramic shot of the view to the west.  We never made it out to that area with the all the skyscrapers in the distance.  I wonder if there is anything of interest out there that we should go see the next time we come here?

Twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower.  It was nice to spend our last evening looking out over the city at all of the places we had visited.

Back down on the ground, looking up to admire this amazing structure.

One last picture, taken from under the Arch.  Paris is beautiful in any light, at any time of day or night.  And I think this has been my favorite vacation of all time.


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