We rose early this morning because we have over 450 miles to cover today. The hotel's breakfast room was on the top floor and when we entered we discovered the room had floor to ceiling windows giving us a spectacular view of Clermont-Ferrand.
Of course the black outline of the Notre-Dame de Clermont with its 108-meter spires immediately drew our attention. It looked quite similar in construction to the famous Notre-Dame in Paris, including the iconic flying buttresses. I thought the black color was a result of years of pollution during the industrial revolution but was surprised to discover in Wikipedia that it is black because it is constructed of black volcanic rock. I so wished we would have had time to visit it. I also noticed when I read the article on Clermont-Ferrand in Wikipedia that there is a magnificent equestrian statue of Vercingetorix there too.
But, alas, we are too short on time if I want to see Giverny today. So, we enjoyed a very nice breakfast of pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese and sausages then loaded up the car and headed north once again.
The sun was warm streaming through the window and I drifted off to sleep while once more gazing at the fields of wheat and blooming rapeseed of northern France. When I awoke, Richard and Cecelia were in somewhat of a panic as Richard had taken a wrong turn and somehow ended up on the very congested ring road around Paris. He feared that since we lost time trying to get back to our original course we would not have time to visit Giverny after all. I was very disappointed. We discussed our options and decided to pick up something to eat at one of the rest areas and eat in the car to save time so we would still have an hour or so to walk around Monet's gardens.
We finally arrived at Giverny and found ourselves in a really long queue to get in. Richard had purchased tickets online so we really didn't need to wait in line but trying to get through a crowd of tourists from a tour bus was a real challenge. I don't know why the tour operator didn't go alone to the admission booth and purchase tickets for everyone on the tour then return to the bus and hand them out. Instead everyone from the bus was in a big cluster blocking the entrance for everyone else.
Cecelia managed to wind her way through the line and check to see that we could get in without waiting then came back for me. I told her that since we had so little time we should skip the house tour and head straight for the famous lily ponds which we did. With so many people visiting it was hard to get good pictures of the serene ponds without people in the background but I figured I would just have to do a lot of editing in Photoshop. I was able to make one complete circuit of the lily ponds then we went over to the gift shop so I could buy a book about Monet's home. I had recently reviewed a BBC series "The Impressionists" so I knew quite a bit about Monet's life already and had seen some of his paintings at a recent exhibit at the Portland Art Museum and, of course, at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris when I was there in 2008.
So, after that whirlwind trip to Giverny, we struck out for Calais once more and arrived at the ferry with five minutes to spare. Richard had booked the lounge for us so we would have a little peace and quiet on our return trip across the Channel. The Channel was not as rough as it was the day we left so I managed to eat some quiche without feeling queasy at all.
Soon the cliffs of Dover loomed into view and we were back in England once more. Tomorrow we will be visiting Dover Castle so I went to bed early.