France – Day 10 – Giverny

To have seen Monet’s famous water lilies at the Musée de L’Orangerie and then to see where he painted them was just amazing. We decided it was best to start early when dealing with trains, since we are not good with them. We were able to go right to the station and watch the boards. My Trainline app showed me the boards in real time, but somehow I lost it and never found it again. It was still easy to watch the boards. When our train, though, came up on the board, a mass of people went towards the train. We had reserved seats in first class and found them immediately. We then took the 80 minute ride to Vernon and I remembered exactly where to pick up the bus, so we went directly to the bus, gave the driver 20 euros for a return ticket, then made the 10 minute drive to Giverny.

As I remembered, the line for tickets was extremely long, and I remembered correctly. We had pre-purchased, so were able to go in the group line, which was about 2 people long. I would recommend this even in low season, as I remembered there being a line in September -October. I have hundreds of pictures, but I believe you can see them best in my video, which I have also posted.

We enjoyed our day and it really wasn’t even hot. We walked back to where we were let off at the bus. Be sure to remember where this is, as we had a momentary heart failure when we tried to remember, but did remember and caught the bus just a few minutes later. We also had to remember where we had put the return tickets, but found them without issues.

We arrived at the station in plenty of time with about 1000 other people, who had the same idea. Although we had first class tickets, the ticket agent said there was no assigned seating and I know why. We ended up standing along with nearly everyone else in a second class car because we couldn’t move. Fortunately, the air conditioning was good and we were cool.

We came back to our apartment and stayed in to watch the Women’s World Cup final, which ended up being worthwhile, as the US was victorious.

Tomorrow is our last day and we intend on spending it at the Louvre. Our Navigo Découverte will expire tonight, so I think I will try to get a one day ticket for both of us, then see if we can just get one ticket to get to the Charles DeGaulle airport on Tuesday.

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France – Day 10 – Giverny Video

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France – Day 9 – Saturday – Chantilly

We took the train to Chantilly and, unfortunately, got off at the wrong stop – 5 minutes before our stop. When I had booked the tickets, I could have sworn it said the first stop, but I guess not. In any event I had planned for a long day. We waited about an hour for the next train and rode about 5 minutes to the next stop. We walked to the “stables”, which took about 20 minutes. The walk was nice through the woods.

We went through the horse museum, which was wonderful and then watched 2 dressage demonstrations, which were all in French. Instead of being outdoors, which was how I saw it last time. This time it was in a rotunda.

We then walked to the Chateau, which is supposed to house the greatest selection of art in France outside of the Louvre. It was really incredible.

We then walked in the gardens, which were amazing.

A visit to Chantilly would not have been complete without a sampling of the famous sweet cream, so we stopped at a cafe for a snack, then back on the train to Paris. This time, however, we did it right!!!!

Paris – Day 8 – Friday

We started early as the lines in Paris have been horrendous. We did not have tickets to the Arc De Triomphe, but I didn’t think we’d need to get tickets ahead. I was right, but there was a short line – maybe 5-10 minutes – in the underground to get to the arch. It was a beautiful day and nice at the top. We did have to walk up the steps and back down. Up is always hardest.

We went back to the Grande Palais and saw a wonderful exhibition on the moon. It was very different to see the moon landing from the perspective of the French. It was very well done with lots of art to go along with it.

We then took the bus to the Hotel de Ville and went into an exhibition about the LGBTQ community. Again, well done.

We walked across the Seine and along the river to see Notre Dame for ourselves. We came from the back, which was always my favorite and were distressed, but not too surprised that there was a lot of construction materials around, but no actual work being done that we could see.

We continued to walk and stopped by the Tour Saint-Jacques and walked around the park and then just had a snack that we had carried with us, then back to the apartment.

Paris – Day 7 – Thursday

Today, we will be going to Versailles. The RER Line C appears to be out of order for a couple of weeks, so we will attempt another line and then take the bus to where we need to go to present our tickets. We woke up a little earlier as the Chateau will be closing early (5:30PM).

We arrived at the Palais a little after 10:00AM after taking 2 RER lines and a short bus ride. It was hard to see where the line ended as it was long – AND we had tickets!!!

We waited for about 45 minutes and as we got closer to Gate A for ticket holders, we realized that the line was twice as long as when we began. Must be a 2 hour wait for the people behind us.

I had downloaded an app to help us navigate the Palais, but it was a little confusing to begin with. Once we figured out that we had reversed our direction, we were able to do our “tour” of the Palais. However, it was just a long line of people, made more difficult by those who were just standing in the line, listening to their headsets or their guide.

We decided to get through it quickly and make a note of each salon, not waiting to hear every single thing about the particular room and its artifacts from our downloaded tour. We made it outside to the gardens and were disappointed to see that the beautiful fountains that Versailles was know for were not running.

When I made the decision to go on this day without the “musical” fountains, I did not realize that it may have meant no fountains at all. I’m still not sure about that, as most fountains that we have seen in Paris are not running. We have had no rain since we’ve been here and there may just be a drought.

We snacked on the steps in the garden, but decided not to drink a lot of water because of the crowds in the restrooms.

There were some restaurants inside the gardens, but all seemed too crowded to wait. We decided to leave a little early and have a late lunch, since we had not been eating much dinner. We walked to an area of the city of Versailles with many restaurants to choose from and stopped at a cafe for a late lunch. We were so late that many were closing. We were able to get lunch, though, and sat outside to enjoy the cooler weather here. 50’s in the morning and 70’s in the afternoon.

We took only one RER line to return to Paris. Since we are both fans of the Netflix Stranger Things, we bing watched a few episodes of the new season before heading to bed after a long day.

Paris – Day 6 – Wednesday

We switched our days around, so today would be Montmartre. We took our time getting up and took the Metro and walked to the funicular. We waited 2 minutes and it came right down, then took us to the top. As always the view did not disappoint. It was a little hazy from the heat over the last few days, but still beautiful to see Paris from a hill. The line was short to get into the cathedral and as always, they wanted to check our bags before we went in. The world has really changed, hasn’t it!?!

We then went around the corner to St, Pierre De Montmartre where we saw the statue of St. Denis, who was beheaded and then walked a mile with his head in his hands.

Then around the corner to the artist’s market, a very colorful scene!

Then around another corner to the Salvador Dali Museum.

Then down to the Moulin Rouge area to get some “culture”.

We took the bus to the Palais Opera Garnier.

Paris – Day 5 – Tuesday

Today was a really fun day. We slept until we waked up and then headed out to the Musee D’Orsay (my favorite museum (other than L’Orangerie), It was markedly cooler – in the 50’s. We arrived around 10:00AM from the Metro and there was a line. We had purchased combo tickets from L’Orangerie, which was a good idea. We probably waited 30 minutes to get into the museum. As always, it didn’t disappoint, though.

One thing I forgot to mention is the heightened security in Paris museums and points of interest in general. Even in the grocery store, they ask to look in your bag. This was a big surprise to me, but made me feel very protected.

We stayed in the museum for a couple of hours, then came outside and were horrified at the line. It wound around the block!!! We must have really hit it right.

Perhaps I had forgotten, but it was nice to be able to go outside.

We tried to get on the RER, but the museum entrance was closed for repairs. We used Google maps once again and found our way to another subway station and went to the Luxembourg Gardens to watch children sail their little wooden sailboats. Before we made it to the gardens, though, we stopped for lunch just outside the gardens. Afterward, it was nice to sit in the sun/shade and watch the world go by.

After a nice reprieve from the city, we got on the bus and rode to the Sainte Chappelle to see the stained glass windows, the Palais du Justice and the Conciergerie. The line was short, even to buy tickets. Shannon was shocked at the stained glass windows. I always am. Again, we hit it just right as there was a serious line to get tickets to the Sainte Chappelle.

We spend about 30 minutes in the Palais du Justice, then went to the Conciergerie. I don’t believe I had ever gone and it was a wonderful idea to go. A major scene in the French Revolution. We were able to find out more about Marie-Antoinette, who was beheaded as part of the Bourgeoisie. We talked about the book and the opera – Les Miserables. I was able to get through the read and I think Shannon will make that effort.

We have tickets tonight to see a pianist playing Mozart, Satie and Beethoven at the Saint-Ephrem Church. I have never been there, but am looking forward to the concert. We dropped by the grocery store and bought dinner and dessert, so we wouldn’t be too pressed tonight.

The young Asian woman played beautifully, although I believe she was a little shy to speak to us. She never even told us her name! The Church had wonderful acoustics.

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Paris – Day 4 – Monday

Today we had to get up early to get to the train station — only a few minutes away, but it seems I am always doing something wrong at the train station. This year was no exception. We arrived in plenty of time and waited and waited and waited. The train was late. Unfortunately, we looked at the board wrong and found that we were waiting at the platform for arrivals. We exchanged out tickets for the train leaving the next hour, but it cost an extra 20 euros. Oh well. As we found our seats, there was an announcement and suddenly, everyone started getting up and running off the train. It seemed that they were running towards the front of the train, so we followed. We finally got under way.

A really funny story. We ended up in a super town called Rouen. Well……..we were supposed to go to Caen. When we arrived in Rouen, we asked for information to get to Normandie and were told to go to the Cathedrale where they had tours. We found a locked cathedral that was absolutely beautiful (gothic style), so we decided to stay and enjoy the town. Had a lovely time exploring and just relaxing.

The town is full of these gothic churches, but is small enough that you want to travel down side streets. We found a really cool museum that was in an abandoned church that actually looked like the one above. It had all sorts of antique utensils. Everything was in French, but we managed to figure out what most of it was.

Horse bits and a spur - picture is sideways

We also found this wonderful fountain that overlooked the city. Not currently operations, but…..oh well…..

Paris – Day 4 – Monday

Today we had to get up early to get to the train station — only a few minutes away, but it seems I am always doing something wrong at the train station. This year was no exception. We arrived in plenty of time and waited and waited and waited. The train was late. Unfortunately, we looked at the board wrong and found that we were waiting at the platform for arrivals. We exchanged out tickets for the train leaving the next hour, but it cost an extra 20 euros. Oh well. As we found our seats, there was an announcement and suddenly, everyone started getting up and running off the train. It seemed that they were running towards the front of the train, so we followed. We finally got under way.

A really funny story. We ended up in a super town called Rouen. Well……..we were supposed to go to Caen. When we arrived in Rouen, we asked for information to get to Normandie and were told to go to the Cathedrale where they had tours. We found a locked cathedral that was absolutely beautiful (gothic style), so we decided to stay and enjoy the town. Had a lovely time exploring and just relaxing.

The town is full of these gothic churches, but is small enough that you want to travel down side streets. We found a really cool museum that was in an abandoned church that actually looked like the one above. It had all sorts of antique utensils. Everything was in French, but we managed to figure out what most of it was.

These were hose bits and spurs, although the picture is sideways. :-(.

Paris – Day 3 – Sunday

We slept in just a little and started our journey to St. Sulpice, a Roman Catholic Church known for its fabulous organ.

Just outside the Church, there was a ceramics market day, so we spent a few minutes looking at the ceramics. Fortunately, Shannon is not much of a consumer, so we got out without buying anything. We did go into the Church during a service and, of course, understood nearly nothing, but the organ was very present. This Church is the second largest (second only to Notre Dame), but it was surprisingly not full of worshippers. There were a lot of tourists. When the service was over, the organ took over and everyone clapped at the end.

We were able to take a look around and saw the famous obelisk (gnomon) that played a large part in the book, The Da Vinci Code.

We then decided to take the bus to the Musée Rodin, but the bus driver needed to take a break, so we just decided to walk the rest of the way. We stopped, though, for an outdoor lunch at Les Ministeries just off the main road in Saint-Germain-Des-Pres.

After lunch, we continued down the street to the Musée Rodin and enjoyed the museum and the gardens. It was very hot inside, but nice outside. It seemed that after enjoying the Musée Rodin, that a storm might be approaching. It was very cool on the walk to Hotel des Invalides.

The Kiss

Just next door is the Hotel des Invalides/Musée de L’Armee, but it is a little bit of a walk because you have to enter from the front. Or I suppose you could also enter from the back, but it is just so much more impressive to leave Napoleon’s tomb for last.

We spent a few hours here and then finalized with Napoleon’s Tomb. To be honest, I always thought he was just entombed here, but found out that his ashes are here. Who knew???

So it’s back to the house for some much needed foot resting!!!

We had bought tickets for the train for tomorrow, but realized that the tickets took us to the wrong city. I went out to trade in the tickets, which was a great idea because I was able to get the layout of the train station and the best way to get there. It will take about 10 minutes to get to the platform.

We did go out to eat at a Brasserie and I can’t remember the name. It was about 8:30 Sunday night and not much was open. The restaurant that we had decided on was closed, so we just went to the first place we found open. It was absolutely packed and the food was actually good. It’s 10:40PM and we should be asleep. Tomorrow will be a traveling day and we were warned that there would be a lot of tourists, so our trip home might be interesting. We’re headed to Normandie to learn about D-Day. Can’t wait!!!!