After attending the European Patchwork Meeting in the Val d'Argents in Alsace/Lorraine, France, I traveled by train into Paris to meet my best friend ever for a few days of holiday time. I had been nervous about traveling by train, never having done so before and certainly never having done so alone! I needn't have worried.
My hotelier, Gérôme, of the Restaurant/Hotel Elisabeth, dropped me off in the nearest village, Liépvre. I had a bus ticket from there to Sélestat, and a train ticket from Sélastat to Strasbourg with a change of trains in Strasbourg straight into Gare du l'Est. I managed it all well, except that my suitcase was too big and heavy, and because some stations still do not have lifts or escalators, I needed help from a few strangers along the way. The bigger the station, the more difficult it is to change trains, but I managed to get through it without going all the way to the end of the line on the wrong train!
My friend Lynn of Boone County, Kentucky, flew from the USA into Charles DeGaulle International Aeroport. She arrived in Paris much earlier in the day than I did, and I found her waiting for me in, of all places, the McDonald's restaurant near the Gare d'Austerlitz. She had managed well enough, but it was a long time to go without sleep, so she was quite tired by the time we checked into our flat, rented through HomeAway. The flat was great! It was just as pictured--mostly white, fresh, clean and well-outfitted for our needs, and most important of all, not full of OPC (other people's clutter). We went out to do a little shopping, and had a simple meal for dinner before calling it a day.
On Tuesday, after spending much of a sleep-late morning making over-delayed plans for the things we wanted to see and do, we traveled by Mêtro (easy as anything!) to L'Atelier des Lumières to enjoy the immersive art experience of the Klimt/Hundertwasser artworks presented as a light show. It was fantastic, and well worth the effort to find it. The price was fair, especially as one can remain inside the show as long as one likes. The entire presentation takes about an hour, and visitors may enter at any point along the way, so there's little queuing necessary.
On Wednesday, we visited the Musée d'Orsay. I had not been there before, but Lynn had. That mattered little, as the museum currently features the Picasso Blue and Rose exhibition, full of art neither of us had seen before! We were amazed to see work that looked like other artists of that period--Toulouse Lautrec in particular--as Picasso passed through that stage in his artistic life and moved on to other things. We had a delightful lunch in the Musée's restaurant, surrounded by English-speaking Americans from Colorado!
On the way back from the Musée d'Orsay, Lynn suddenly dived into a shop, one inhabited by a tour company offering trips to see Monet's Garden in Giverny outside of Paris. As the journey would be relatively long and the trains do not run all the way to Giverny, but only as far as Vernon, we agreed to sign up for a guided transport. I can't say that I recommend that idea, as we had a difficult time finding the starting point for the tour, the tour guide quit working as soon as we arrived, and we missed our bus on the way back due to miscommunication about the rendezvous point!
Nonplussed, Lynn approached a young couple loading their car, asking first if they spoke English and then if they would carry us as far as Vernon. Travellers who become stranded must be fairly commonplace, and most people are willing to help if they can, so this kind couple gave us a lift to the train station in Vernon, and we got back into Paris on our own. We had some conversation with a couple of Pakistani youth seated opposite, and generally had a good time despite missing our bus! Travelling should be about adventure, yes?! I think this link applies: Paulo Coelho's 'Hippie' Travel Tips from the GoodReads blog.
At any rate, we made it to Monet's Gardens! Lynn loved the gardens, as she does a lot of gardening herself.
I live in a virtual desert, so gardening holds little appeal for me. I was rather smitten with the house, which oddly reminded me of my great-grandparents' home in Kerr, Ohio. With eight children between them, Claude and his second wife Alice Raingo Hoschedé Monet needed a large kitchen and an equally large dining room. This house surely suited them well!
I loved the period chintz upholstery and curtains, the antique furniture, and the delicate wall paper, although I honestly failed to appreciate having every square inch of wall space covered with artwork, either Monet's or his carefully collected Japanese prints.
What really caught my eye was the Delft blue and white tiles (inspiration for a quilt?) and the wonderful array of copper-ware in the kitchen. If in working order, both the kitchen sink and the huge cookstove could be used by any good cook today, and with each meal a homemade French country dish, the cuisine must have been excellent!
So, we had a pleasant ending to a lovely day! In my next post, I'll tell you about how we spent our last day in Paris--with a trip to the Gobelin Tapestry Manufactory!!