A Picturesque Tour of Monet's Gardens & Giverny Pt. 1

Racing across Paris was never the plan, but it was what we had to do to make our train to Giverny, a small town located approximately two hours away from Paris.

I had not booked tickets for Monet's Gardens considering Justin and I would be visiting on July 14th, Bastille Day. Knowing my luck, the gardens would be closed for the holiday and I wouldn't have a clue since my French is about as good as my cat-speak. Well, actually, my cat-speak might be better; I can at least imitate them. ;) Either way, we had our hotel concierge call Monet's Gardens and confirm that they were indeed open for July 14th. Then, we proceeded to get directions.

If you've ever been jetlagged you will understand our confusion. Justin heard one thing; I heard another. And this was all before our Seine River sunset cruise, so who knows who was right?

Either way, we had a difficult time waking on July 14th. We needed to get up between 6 and 7AM to make the train, but we pushed our alarm to give us the most limited time possible. #MistakeOne. Because I'm super organized (most of the time anyway), I was sorting our luggage and chomping on a croissant, taking my time getting ready. We left the hotel, according to the concierge's directions, just in time, but, of course, late if we had wanted to be early.

Justin's GPS directed him to the metro. And me? I didn't know why we were taking it. The concierge had clearly said the train station was a ten-minute walk from the hotel. So, when we missed our first metro (we were on the wrong side of the track), I convinced Justin to walk there with me. A ten-minute walk really isn't that difficult, is it? #MistakeTwo. Turns out, Justin's GPS was correct in having us take the metro to the train station. The walk was, in fact, thirty minutes. #stress! And by the time we realized, none of the cab drivers would give us a ride. "Too short!" they all complained. "It's a ten-minute walk," they all said. Psh! I think ten minutes in French time is a little different than ten minutes in American time.

Finally, we made it, one minute before the expected train departure. But! We didn't have tickets. And, of course, by the time we found the ticket desk, we were already too late. Argh. So, we opted to wait until the next train to buy tickets. #MistakeThree

That particular day, Justin and I were going to be swapping hotels from our swanky Hyatt du Louvre to the also swanky Hotel Brighton. I had booked a room at HB that overlooked the Eiffel Tower so that we could see the Bastille Day fireworks from our hotel room. And, man, was that a dream! For two tired, jetlagged tourists, there was nothing better than snuggling up and watching the Bastille Day fireworks over the Eiffel Tower from the comfort of bed! … But that's another story, and one we will get to another day. The point is: we had to switch hotels, so we had to move our luggage. And when you have an hour or more between train arrivals, why not go ahead and start the process? #MistakeFour, sort of.

We headed back to the Hyatt and proceeded to pack our things. Then, because our hotels were super close together, we walked our overflowing luggage to our new hotel. Even though our room was not yet available, the friendly staff placed our luggage in a holding room until we returned to check-in later in the day. The staff was wonderful and helpful even if we had had a difficult time getting to the hotel due to security measures already in place for the parade and fireworks that would be occurring that day.

With a bit of extra time still at play, Justin and I stopped to get some Angelina's hot chocolate located at the tea room right next to our new hotel. (I can't go to Paris without getting the delightful and delicious Angelina's. If you've ever had it, I'm certain you understand why!) Then, we made our way back to the ticket booth to get our train ticket and wait on the train.

We arrived a few minutes early, but it still wasn't early enough. Y'see … earlier in the day the line for the train had been minuscule, maybe one or two people. Now, later in the morning, the line was full to capacity. We had 30 minutes to get our tickets, but the line didn't move nearly fast enough. (And don't even talk to me about the confusing ticket kiosk! That was a no-go for us! Plus half of them were "out of order".) LUCKILY, when we got to the front of the line, the person we spoke with understand English. Phew! She explained that we may or may not be able to make the train she was ticketing us for, but if we didn't, our ticket would work for the next train. And thus we ran for the train!

I bet you can guess what happened.

We didn't make it in time. Rather than go anywhere, we opted to hang out at the train station until the next train came. With tickets in hand and our time at Giverny shrinking by the moment, we knew that we could not miss the next train. We ate a terrible lunch in the station, listened to some kids playing on the public piano in the main hall, and did a bit of walking/shopping near the station. Then, finally, our train arrived. It wasn't that our train was late, it was just that we were so crazy early that we didn't know what to do with ourselves! 

Of course, once we arrived in Giverny, we had no idea where to go or how to access the gardens. It didn't matter that there were signs directing us, we, at first had to go the wrong direction. *sigh* #Americans?

When we eventually found the "entrance", we knew it was the entrance due to the long, long, long line of people waiting to get in. 

And, because it was hot outside, everyone and their cousin was buying ice cream at a stand just opposite of the line. I'm not sure if I was that hungry or that hot, but this ice cream, my very first ice cream in France, was absolutely one of the best ice creams I have ever had! (And I've had a lot of ice cream in my life!)

Rather than pay the 10,20 € entrance fee per person for just the Monet House and Gardens, Justin and I purchased a combination ticket allowing us to see the Musée des Impressionnismes as well for an additional 8.20 €. Then, we began roaming the gardens…

Stay tuned! There will be more to come next week… (I took a lot of pictures!)

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** Linking up to City Trippers Mummytravels.com and Wandermum.co.uk

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