|We have breakfast at the hotel and head for the subway for the ride to the train station. I thought that we had time to walk over and I am glad that we didn't. Getting off the subway finding the Paris Gare du Nord Rail station was not too tough but finding the Europcar office took some doing. We followed the address of 18 Rue de Dunkerque and walked up and down the street with no luck. We then looked around inside the station even following some instructions we were given but we only ended up at another entrance. Finally we located the desk downstairs and started the rental process.
Our agent was ok as he went over the papers and where to buy a map etc but when it came to confirming our directions out of town he became Mr Comic. He pretended our saying Monet was money and launched into the places to get money. Two or three times around this silly block and finally he said Monet with the proper French inflection and reviewed the mapquest route we had brought. I am glad I asked him to write half full gas at depart because when I got home we got a bill for them to fill the tank. I faxed the Portland Maine Auto Europe office the papers and had to push them over six weeks to finally credit me the money even though the Europcar folks had not responded... but I digress.
We made it to the beltway around Paris and onto the A13 highway toward Giverny. The Michelin web site directions were good. A little over 2 hours and we were parking in the lot near Monet's and having some lunch. The area is a village setup with small parking lots, cottage homes part of an art colony or selling art. The feeling was relaxed as we walked toward the home. We paid 5.50 euro each to enter and had to ask 3 people before we got a written guide(finally got one in the gift shop)to the home and grounds.
The tour around was fun. In his photos he looked like Earnest Hemmingway with his beard. This was not the first time that the home of a person of stature had a separate bedroom from his wife's. The pictures around the home gave a glimpse into the social and family ties. Each room looked very much like the photos and you felt like you were walking in his footsteps as you looked upon the things he looked at and I could even see him making tea in the kitchen and walking to the large 1st floor studio.
Outside in the gardens you can see the inspiration behind so much of his art. The Foundation does a great job caring for the gardens and the pond with the blooming lily pad flowers and The Japanese Footbridge (looks like it does in the 1899 painting). We had a enjoyable visit and went into the nearby town of Vernon for a very nice lunch and another try for some cash machine roulette.(this is where I try to get my money out as HSBC tries to keep it). After several months they win most of the time!!
We take a little longer route to get to Vitre and once we get into the town we stop at a Ibis hotel to get clear directions. A woman checking into that hotel offers to call our hotel on her cell phone to let them know that we are on our way. Our hotel is behind the castle and once we park and check in we walk up to the front of the castle. There is a show inside so we continue to tour. These half timber homes are built in and over these medieval stone streets. It seems as if you are dropped back in time. Much like the feel of Brugge.
We find a pub that looks inviting and sit at the bar. They tell us they are not serving food but we got a ham and cheese quesadilla and a couple of drinks. We walk back down the hill to our hotel and just as we settle into the room the fireworks associated with the show in the castle begin. From the window I look up the castle walls and watch the show that is the fitting end to a great day of touring in France.