|Well the last few days have been interesting to say the last. First off, I learned not to book a place that is not within walking distance or local bus service to the train station. Giverny is a very small town just across the Seine from Vernon, which is where the Gare is. There are few places to stay in this area - mostly expensive bed and breakfast places that cater to people going to Monet's house. While Monet's house brings in over a million tourist a year apparently, they mostly come for just the day from Paris either by train, tour bus, or car. Then they leave. I booked a room in a "hotel restaurant" called La Gueulardiere that's actually in Port Villez, just down the road from Vernon. It's actually like a boarding house with a small restaurant. More on this later. I thought it was only about 1.5 miles to Monet's house which would mean half that to the Gare - easily walkable. Plus, I had emailed the place months ago asking if there was local bus service to the Gare but the answer was no. However, the guy offered to pick me up and let me use his bike to get to town and Monet's house so I thought that'd be great.
So Benjamin picked me up at the Gare. No problem. Super nice guy. Cute too. But it quickly became obvious my distances were off. It was about 3.5 km to Vernon Port Villez and another 3.5-4 to Monet's house. I got to my room and couldn't find my regular glasses and thought I must have left them on the train. I told Benjamin and we decided to call the Paris station later. Well so I took off on the bike the first afternoon just to go to Vernon to check out the town and my front tire pretty much went flat. Well I was in the middle of nowhere on a two lane country road so I just kept riding on the flat tire. In the heat. I eventually saw what looked to be an auto repair shop so I went in and hand signaled for air in my tire and it filled up and was fine. Did I mention it was really hot? It was really hot. About 85 or so. So I looked around Vernon, ate and had a couple beers and headed back. Benjamin was in the restaurant and asked if I'd like dinner but I declined and promised for the next night. He said he had a surprise for me though - he found my glasses! Apparently they fell out of my bag when I checked in. Benjamin must have made me nervous.
Let's discuss the room. I don't know how to describe it other than a long shack that was broken up into 5 separate rooms with en suite baths that would never clear the first inspection by a city inspector in any US city. It was kind of like camping in a way. Having said that, every thing functioned perfectly and the bed was surprisingly comfortable with great sheets. Go figure. The next day I had a nice breakfast with Benjamin the cute innkeeper who, by the way, has a great espresso maker. I eventually got on Benjamins bike and headed to Monet's house. It's important to buy your ticket online ahead of time so you can skip the long line. There's a side entrance down a little street where groups and savvy travelers get in - no line. I was no SAT today. I used the savvy traveler entrance. I felt bad for all the poor schmucks waiting in a terribly long line in very hot weather. But I failed to mention the bike ride over. A very nice bike path, but I probably should have worn dark colors because every flea and bug outside of Paris was on my shorts, shirt, arms and legs by the time I got there. I'm pretty sure I had some in between my teeth. I spit more than a few times. A lovely ride all the same.
Monet's gardens were beautiful.
By the time I got back to Benjamin I was a hot and sweaty mess. From the bike ride that is. It was 90 degrees out and no air conditioning. So I showered and relaxed until dinner and I even put a dress on and some make-up. Turns out Benjamin owns the place having inherited it from his grandmother and he did all of the shoddy work on the place himself. (Actually he did a really good job making everything functional. And the restaurant is quite nice.). I asked Benjamin to pick for me an entree (appetizer) and a plat (main course) as well as a white wine. Great meal. The entree was asparagus lightly cooked drizzled with olive oil and balsamic with grated Parmesan cheese. The plat was ris de veau. Now I knew that was veal but Benjamin, who lived in Los Angeles for four years and whose English is very good, couldn't recall the name in English. He finally did. Sweetbreads. Shit. Now I have Hannibal Lector on the brain. But I've told myself I need to step out of the box a little and Benjamin assured me it was a delicious plat but I could send it back if I didn't like it. It was delicious! And the wine was tres bon!
I had an early train the next morning and to make a long story short, there was no taxi available or other method of transport than Benjamin offering me a ride. I felt bad because he had already done so much for me. But he was up bright and early and took me to the Gare. I gave him a nice bottle of Sancerre which I was hoping to drink but I felt he should have it.