Guest Blog 3: Bayeux to Giverny, France


Guest Post: Bayeux and Giverny

My sister and brother-in-law, Bev and Gord Simpson, are in France for 2 weeks (Sept 22- Oct 6, 2015).  I’m living vicariously through them. I think it must be time for another trip to France!  Bev and Gord live in Toronto and are avid travelers, Gord is the photographer and Bev the writer, together they make a great team. Enjoy!

Wednesday, Sept 30 – Giverny

Today we made the long trip from Bayeux to Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and gardens and of course the famous Nymphéas. It is another beautiful warm sunny fall day and the trip is lovely but long – over 2 hours and strangely hard to find Giverny.

Claude Monet’s House and Gardens

Not very well marked off the highway, we find it by GPS and of course, it is lovely. Even this late in the fall, the flowers are stunning and the light on the lily ponds changes even in the short time we are there. The house and gardens are beautifully kept by the local Monet Foundation. It is surprisingly reasonable to enter, one small fee and stay as long as you like. There are lots of people, but not annoyingly so, as it would likely be in summer.

The house is old with small beds, little tables, and lamps – not nearly as comfortable as we live today. But 2 rooms that stand out are the kitchen – all blue tiles, lots of copper pots a big old stove – maybe even wood burning – hard to tell. Lots of beautiful light streaming in from the front windows with their lace curtains. The copper pots are gleaming!

The dining room – with a table that seats 12 – is sunlight everywhere with its yellow paint on the walls and the furniture and light pouring in the windows, lots of pictures on all the walls.

Paintings of flowers and Monet’s Muse, the Gardens

There are a few Monet paintings around – one very familiar– presumably real although they would be worth millions of euros – so are they real? There are many, many Japanese style drawings and paintings – apparently, he was very interested in Japanese art. There are guards in the house but very unobtrusive – even at this time of year there are many visitors and we move through politely!

The most stunning part of the house and garden is the walkway to the front gate that at one time was a driveway off the main road in the town. It leads up to the front door of the house and it is just a sea of flowers – at this time of the year, they are dahlias and nasturtiums with climbing roses – all catching the sunlight in a very charming manner.

Walking Paths

On the walking path to the ponds, you can see how beautifully everything is managed by the gardeners and repairmen. For example, the flowing river is caught and held in place with small poles that provide a lovely looking fence-like structure that adds to the beauty – how much of the islands in the river are man-made, how much is natural is hard to tell. There are 4 workmen repairing a very small part of the fencing with great attention to detail. It seems they appreciate this piece of “Patrimoine” (heritage) that Monet left for the town and surrounding valley, which attracts so many visitors and helps with the employment of many local people. Below is a view from one of the bedrooms in the house overlooking the garden

There are large pockets of tall stately bamboo on the islands in the river but they don’t seem to be taking over as they are held in place by the river itself. The walking trail is beautifully maintained – the light is stunning even at this time of year. Not sure why – does it have to do with how the sun is positioned on the earth at this point in Normandie? The iconic green of the trim on the house is also reflected in the benches that are here and there for visitors to sit and relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Water Gardens

At the lily ponds, the light is most obvious and could never be caught with a photograph. Even in late September mid-afternoon, it is beautiful and reflective. There are people sketching – and lots of photographers – and a few iPads clicking away. There are also very keen gardeners who know the names of all the flowers and discuss various forms and colors and how to grow them at home.

It was a long way to get here – it’s an easier trip by train from Paris and it is even longer getting back to Bayeux as we hit the end of day traffic but we’re very glad we made the trip.

L’Alchemie in Bayeux

Dinner tonight is at L’Alchemie in Bayeux which is like many in this town, owned and operated by a husband-wife team – he is the chef, she runs the dining room, meeting, greeting, hanging coats, seating people, taking drink and food orders, delivering the amuse bouche – I love that name – so weird and wonderful at the same time – delivering the dinner, topping up the drinks etc. very interesting to watch. They work very hard over spring, summer, early fall with tourists and have a lighter load in winter with only locals and the occasional tourist as their guests. Possibly their parents are home with their children – if they have them – since many live in the same town all their lives – and not a bad life it is.

Thursday, Oct 1 A day of rest in Bayeux

Today we took it easy, staying in Bayeux and there is a lot to see and do. We visit the museums we have missed, wander in the parks and gardens in the town, sit and drink coffee on the sidewalk where we can watch people passing by, and catch up with our email, photos (Gord) and travelogue (me). Dinner tonight in a local brasserie with lighter fare – onion soup and salad and wine of course. Meals have been lovely – very gourmet and small quantities of excellently prepared foods often with a very fresh salad vert.

Thank you, Bev and Gord Simpson, you did a great job with this travelogue, Gord taking pictures and Bev putting her thoughts, and their adventures on paper. It makes me want to return to France again.

The photographer at Work, Gord Simpson



I'm in my sixties with the world at my feet and thoughts mostly of "where to next?". I retired in 2017, sold my house in Massachusetts and most of my furniture and "stuff." When not traveling you can find me in Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. Travel has been a passion from a young age, over the years I've discovered I'm a traveler, not a tourist. I prefer traveling solo, with a travel friend, or small groups. Whenever possible I would rather spend time in one place rather than moving around. I'll never turn down an opportunity to go to France, but my travels have taken me all over the world. I've met some incredible people and had some fantastic experiences.

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