Today we had pre-booked our tour with Radio Taxis Le Havre (www.taxis-lehavre.com), but it is not difficult to grab a taxi once you are at the dock. They have a bill board advertising the same tours and the drivers are all there touting for business.
Our trip included visiting Claude Monet’s Gardens at Giverny, then onto Rouen. Being tourist orientated, the fact it was Sunday didn’t affect our experience, but at Rouen it was only the cafes and restaurants that were open.
In 1883 Monet and his family moved to Giverny, and over the 40 years he lived there, he built a garden paradise complete with Japanese garden and a pond full of floating lilies.
Monet was literally an outdoor painter during a time when it was more orthodox for artists to study their subjects in the perfect lighting of a studio setting.
This site has been one of the busiest that we have been to, and the tranquil scenes made famous by Monet’s watercolours, were disturbed by the hustle and bustle of everyone trying to get the best shot.
The most popular feature of the garden was the best example of this. He diverted a river in order to create his water lily pond. With a Japanese theme, the banks were planted with willows and bamboo and the pond was filled with water lilies. A little boat, ducks and the wooden footbridges complete the scenes made famous in his paintings. Creating this beautiful oasis enabled him to continue his outdoor painting without traveling too far from home.
Impressionism, by choice or default, that is the question. I read that when he was going blind with cataracts, he compensated by using larger canvases and painting fewer details - could this be how it all began!
We wandered the little village of Giverny which probably would have remained unknown if it wasn’t for its most famous resident. Now a major tourist attraction boasting small galleries, cafés, restaurants and a very large carpark.
From there we had an impromptu stop at Vernon for the tastiest baguettes we have had since the last time we were in France.
I say Rouen, he says Le Havre; this seemed to be the tone of our conversation with our driver who persistently hinted that on a Sunday, Rouen does not have that much to offer. We won, and we drove into Rouen. Dropped off in front of the old clock tower we headed to the beautiful gothic Cathedral also known as Notre Dame. Reminded of Paris’s Notre Dame, this cathedral was home to some wonderful works of art and is the burial place of Richard the Lion Heart. It also has a small chapel dedicated to Rouen’s most famous personality , Joan of Arc.
Loving the old timbered houses, he was right about all the shops being closed.
Thanks to Sharon’s persistence to find Joan’s Statue, we came to the square where she was burned at the stake. A little more activity here as this area was geared more for the tourist.
Back to the ship and another deck 11 sailaway, and best of all, a sea day ….. finally,….