Saturday, Sep. 22, 2007 - to FRANCE - Amiens, Giverny (Monet's Garden), Vernon

  With Patrick as chauffeur and travel partner, we head southwest for 4 days in France.  Our main goal is the Bayeux Tapestry in the town of Bayeux in the Normandy region.  There are a few side destinations on the way we hope to include, but the main idea is to stay open to those serendipitous experiences that make travel adventurous, pleasurable and fulfilling. 


Our guide is Miss Garmin.  She is not completely reliable, but has made traveling a whole new experience.  It is impossible to get lost -- for long.  Think about it.

Our first unplanned side trip occurred before we left Belgium.  We saw from the freeway this huge boatlift on the Canal du Centre near the town of La Louviere.  Patrick remembered hearing about it as an engineering marvel.  

We arrived in time to see this canal barge being lowered by the counterweighted caissons.  See: Strepy-Thieu boat lift Wikipedia page for more information on this technical marvel.

And after dropping her 240 feet, she's on her merry way.  Amazing!

We arrive at Amiens, France, & look for the cathedral.  After finding a rather distant parking place, we find this fun statue.

The exterior of the Amiens Cathedral is impressive.  A world heritage site, it is said to be the tallest cathedral in France (& therefore hard to photograph).

Detailed statues line the portals here and you always get the feeling you should know who they are.

Peg's long-held image of Amiens was this angle toward the nave.  The towering vaulted ceiling does its job of pulling the eye heavenward and filling the heart with awe.

The rose window and organ feature prominently in the west facade, but it is still the height that humbles one.

Claude Monet's garden in Giverny is for picture taking.  The nasturtiums are really there, just like all the photos you've ever seen of the old man himself.

There really is a water lily pond complete with the requisite weeping willow.  Lovely!

And of course the Japanese bridge.  Despite all the tourists, (the one waving is retired art teacher Peg) it is still a place of personal pilgrimage.

The house was an unexpected treat.  Obviously, Mr. Monet had managed to achieve some success in his later lifetime - at least he lived comfortably.

Patrick captures this photo of his parents from the upstairs overlooking the garden.  

And then Keith gets this one of mother & son on the veranda.   Even before his mom became an art teacher, Patrick enjoyed books about the Impressionists.

Keith enjoyed photographing flowers this day.  Quite plein-air a la Claude Monet.  Certainly there is a unique quality of light at Giverny.

Speaking of plein-air, here we are taking a break & soaking up our share.  There is definitely something special about the light here.

Just down the lane, this little bed & breakfast called Moulin des Chennevieres caught our eye & we rather wished we had known about it & made arrangements.

The second serendipitous event found us at the end of a back street.  We followed the pop-pop sound of engines & happened upon this meet of old engine enthusiasts.  

This 2nd day of a 2-day meet displayed some incredibly interesting & cleverly restored engines all in working order & impressive as all get out.  The guys were in their heaven & all was right with the world.

We return down a Giverny lane to the car in the dappled afternoon sunlight.  There were a few miles to go yet before we sleep.

We happen upon the somewhat larger town of Vernon 2 kilometers away on the Seine river.  It is the main crossroad for Giverny and is quite interesting in its own right.

This ancient looking castle tower catches the western setting sunlight.  While closed at this time, we understand it is open to the public during the day.

This leaning half timbered building is probably a popular photo op.  This evening there was choir practice or some kind of choral work going on in the church.  Quite nice!

We catch a flattering photo of Patrick on this bridge over the Seine.  

And he returns the favor.  Are we actually in FRANCE?!

A magic moment of contemplation in a magic light in a magic place.  Life is good.

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