This past weekend I spent a wonderful two days seeing a bit of France, forging friendships and practicing some French.
Several people from the art class that I attend got together to visit Giverny, Château Gaillard, and La collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys located in the Normandy region of France.
We got off to an early start Saturday; most of us carpooled with Dédier chauffeuring the van. It was a long drive so after a couple of rest stops and a final stop for a picnic we met up with the remainder of the group.
Claude Monet, known for his impressionist paintings, called Giverny home from 1883 until his death in 1926. He not only lived and painted there but also designed the gardens.
The flower garden, named Clos Normand, was impressive even with autumn approaching but I have to admit the Jardin d’eau, the water garden, was my favorite. I can understand why Monet chose to spend so much time there.
After wandering around the gardens, touring the house, and visiting the Impressionist Museum we headed out for our hotel and later enjoyed a wonderful meal French style. It’s true that a good French dinner can last for two hours or more. We started with an aperitif, then an appetizer, the main course with wine, dessert and finally coffee or tea. Each course is served and not cleared until everyone has finished, nothing is rushed, and conversation flows freely.
The following morning after breakfast we headed off to Château Gaillard.
The Château was built in 1196 by Richard the Lion Heart despite a treaty declaring Andeli to be a neutral area. Les Andelys with the Château was considered a strategic location and passed back and forth between British and French control. Demolition of the castle began in 1598 with stones being removed for use in other buildings and stopped in 1611.
Château Gaillard overlooks the Seine River, chalky cliffs, and Le Petit Andely with the picturesque Saint Saviour’s church.
After viewing the castle ruins we made our way to Le Grand Andely for lunch and then a look around La collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys. Initial construction of the Cathédrale began around 1215-1220. Improvements and enlargement began in the 15th century and ended in 1570.
The interior of the cathedral is currently under renovation so only limited viewing was available. The impressive exterior provided many wonderful views.
I hope to go back sometime and explore this fascinating area further.