Of all my spectacular days in Paris, and each was in its own way, there was no day I was looking forward to more than this one. While most think Versailles when they hear “day trip from Paris”, and of course I visited Versailles as well, it was always Giverny and Monet’s garden that really called out to me. I was beyond excited to even have scheduled in time to go, but once I realized I could take part in a bike tour to this village, I knew that was exactly the way to go.
The first part of our tour consisted of a 30-40 minute Coach bus ride to the French commune of Vernon.
The minute we arrived in Vernon, I knew I’d have to come back to France to focus on the countryside. And though we weren’t too far from Paris, technically on the borderline of Normandy and Île-de-France, the vibe was completely different than Paris.
Our tour guides divided us into two groups; one group would get their bikes first then head to the market, while the other would do the opposite. I was placed in the first. Our tour guide led us to a few storage units where we all got identical bikes, each with a different named taped on it; which he read allowed as he handed them out. My bike went by Mufasa.
After getting our bikes and walking them to the market, we were given a good amount of time to make any purchases from the market and nearby store and bakery, to bring to our picnic. Yes, this was the moment where all my French dreams came true. Hopping from stand to stand, I purchased some slices of salami from one, some slices of gruyere from another and a baguette. I also accidentally purchased a full-size bottle of pear cider, while thinking I was purchasing a cup or small bottle, but when can you have too much cider? And of course, you can’t pass a bakery without stopping in to get a lemon meringue tart.
We placed our purchases in our baskets and began our bike ride towards Giverny, all the while passing amazing church’s and small French homes and the cutest French women who waved as we passed by. As much as I fell in love with Paris, I may have fallen in love with Vernon/Giverny even more.
One of my favorite parts was when we came to open strips of bike paths and I, of course, took it upon myself to speed ahead and lead the pack. Eventually we got to the perfect picnic spot along the Seine River, where we not only had a view of the river and what looked like a castle but also that famous house built above the river that you always see when googling pictures of Giverny.
It was almost perfect. And I say almost only because I ended up popping my bottle of cider over our entire picnic blanket and half of the group. I was one of the youngest ones on the tour, but I met some amazing and inspirational people including bot not limited to: An older couple who was traveling all across France, an Australian couple who was spending a month and a half in France and Ireland, a newly divorced woman who, upon realizing she was able to take a leave from work for longer than she originally thought, decided to spend four months in France learning French, a writer who was finishing up a year living in Paris, and a woman who believed in up-and-going on adventures whenever she felt like it while also taking classes, this week being a massage class in Florence before stopping in France.
I didn’t think it was possible to want to be so many different people at one time.
After finishing, we packed up and hopped back onto our bikes and were off to the house and gardens of Claude Monet. We were given an hour and a half to explore at our leisure, and even after patiently strolling through both the gardens and his home, filled with rather slow moving lines, and stopping every three seconds to take a photograph, I still finished up with a little more than a half hour to spare.
Conveniently, the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny is a two minute walk from Monet’s house, and so I spent a bit of time strolling through there.
As I exited the museum, I met up with a couple of people from the tour and we grabbed some gelato nearby, before meeting back up with the group. After riding back to our orignal drop-off and packing our bikes back into the sheds, we were on the bus back to Paris.
I Uber’ed back to neighborhood and ended up spending a little time shopping and a lot of time window shopping. When I got back to my apartment, I cooked up some eggplant ravioli with green olive tomato sauce, warmed up a piece of a baguette, tossed together a basic salad and called it a night.
Read about the rest of our Paris escapade:
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