The town also offers an Impressionism museum that sounds fascinating, and having lunch in a cafe outside the city of Paris may be the perfect way to relax after a week and half of constant travel.
Ok --- well, there was a bit of adjusting going on here.
After the experience with Tony - my "pick up" guy - I have been a little leery to travel too far out of my comfort zone --- and getting on a train to Giverny at Gare St. Lazare was definitely out of my comfort zone. So over the weekend I decided to splurge and take my chances on another tour. I had found this tour some time ago. The negative side of the tour was the cost (169 euros) and the fact that it received mixed reviews on Trip Advisor. However, over the weekend I decided to thoroughly read the reviews and it seemed for every negative review, there was a response from the company asking to be contacted so they could make it right. This seemed like a step in the right direction. In addition, this tour not only provided transportation to Giverny (if i took the train I would have to catch a bus or taxi from the station in Vernon to Monet's house) -- but it also included a second tour to Auvers - where VanGogh spent his last days. I threw caution to the wind - once again - and booked it.
The tour was scheduled for Wednesday - so my original plan to do the Eiffel Tower and Marmottan museum beforehand has been switched to tomorrow (so stay tuned....)
Unlike the wine tour yesterday - this tour picked me up right outside my apartment. Again, they were only about 5 minutes later than anticipated, so that was perfect timing in my book. The tour guide was not as polished as Jean-Bernard --- and he was also training another guide, so most of his time was spent speaking french with her. There were only two others in the van, so we were a small group. Sylvain (the guide) was very good about pointing out areas of Paris that we might be interested in as we were leaving the city, and he provided good commentary about Monet on our way to Giverny. The others in the van were very quiet, so I assumed that this would be a very independent (and quiet) day. Which is not a bad thing in my book.
We were then able to visit the Impressionism museum which was currently exhibiting a collection of Impressionism paintings from the Clark collection. They were magnificent - several Renoirs, plus Degas, Manet, Monet, etc. The ideal part of this tour, I think, is that we were allowed a full two hours to see and do whatever we wanted. If we wanted to stay in the garden two hours and forego the house tour and museum, we could. While the guides did not actually lead us through the exhibits - to be honest - there was no need for them to do so. It was the absolutely the perfect amount of time to spend - and I spent it exactly the way I wished.
The next stop was Auvers - and Chelsea was a great admirer of VanGogh so she was able to share lots of information on the one hour drive. When we arrived we first visited his room where he spent his last days. Because others were superstitious of staying in a room of a man who committed suicide -- all the furniture had been removed and the room left exactly as it was in July, 1890. The holes where he apparently hung his paintings to dry were evident - and a portion of the 7 square meter room has been partitioned with the hope of putting the original painting of "his room" for us to view. It was a sober experience.
We then traveled back to Paris - only about 40 minutes away - and I arrived home a bit after 5:00PM. I am half tempted to go out and do something - and half tempted to stay home and relax, plan my last three days in Paris, and just relish the joy of these two tours.