After departing Paris last night at 2 a.m., CroisiEurope’s Botticelli sailed the serpentine Seine in the direction of Vernon. With our arrival scheduled at 1 p.m., we enjoyed a morning of scenic cruising, certainly one of the highlights of any river cruise through Europe and something you just can’t get on a motorcoach tour.
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Imagine sitting in the lounge, with a cafe au lait in hand, or on the top deck, with the summer sunlight warming your face, as you cruise through the French countryside. Minute by minute, as Botticelli made its way downriver, the oversized windows in the main lounge framed scenes that would have inspired the great impressionists who found this region so beautiful.
Today, we would visit the home and gardens of one such impressionist, the artist Claude Monet, who lived in a small village along the banks of the Seine, only three miles from Vernon. Monet was one of the founders of French Impressionism. The term, in fact, is derived from his paining, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise). His ambition of documenting the French countryside led him to adopt a method of painting the same scene repeatedly to capture the changing light and passing of seasons, and in Monet’s mind, there was no place better to do that than in Giverny.
At a cost of €26, the 4.5-hour excursion to Giverny included the €9.50 entrance fee to Monet’s home and gardens. If you were up for a good stroll, you could walk from Vernon to Giverny on a dedicated footpath. Plan on nearly an hour for the 5-kilometer (3 mile) walk.
Giverny certainly becomes more charming when intoned in French than when pronounced phonetically in English. “Give Er Knee” becomes “Jeev Er Nay,” and thus the magic of Monet begins in this exotic-sounding place.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com