A short visit to Normandy
21.05.2013 - 23.05.2013 9 °C
We got here in morning and our friend Quentin came to pick us up at the train station. We took off immediately and went to Giverny, a small town not that far from Rouen, not that far from Paris, where Monet spent most of his life and where his house and garden have now been turned into a museum. Luckily the rain held off for a few hours, for the first time in what feels like a year, and we got to enjoy the gardens and town. If you've seen Monet's work, it's no surprise that his gardens are unbelievable. The water garden was of course the inspiration for his most famous pieces, and it's stunning. Unfortunately there were no water-lilies in bloom, but it was still really something to see. It's definitely worth a visit, and although I think it's easiest to reach by car there are tons of shuttles from surrounding cities to the gardens. We left when it started to rain, which I'm told is a lifestyle in Normandy, not a weather condition.
That evening Quentin's (volunteer) theatre group had a rehearsal and kindly let us sit in. They're putting on the play “Why torture is wrong and the people who love them” (in English) in about a month, and so far it's hilarious. I wish we could come back to see the show.
The next day we met Quentin in town and he took the day to show us around the city. We're lucky to have such awesome friends. We saw the cathedral there, which was the subject of over 30 of Monet's paintings. There's a special impressionist exhibit on at the fine arts museum which we went to, and we also went into the museum in the clock tower in Rouen. We spent the day walking around the city and got an awesome tour from Quentin, who grew up here.
There's a market downtown now in the place where Joan of Arc was burned alive and a really nice, new church in the same square. It doesn't look like a church at all, but it's quite nice on the inside. The windows are huge stained glass ones which they saved at the beginning of the war, from a church which was destroyed in the bombardment of the city. I thought that it was really beautiful for a more modern church.
Our last day in Normandy we were going to go to the coast, to Étretat and Dieppe, but we had some car troubles and ended up staying in Rouen for the afternoon. It turned out to be a great day anyway. Rouen is a great city. That night we headed back to Paris on the last train of the day and met up with Thibault once again. We originally had plans to visit a friend in Poitiers for the last few days of our trip, but it turns out he had to stay in North America longer than expected and won't be there. A few more days in Paris doesn't sound so bad, though.