On my first trip to France, I spent five days doing a whirlwind trip to Paris followed by a homestay in Marseille for two weeks. The train ride across the country and our subsequent excursions in and around Provence quickly showed me that France is dense with beautiful scenery. Rolling hills, green pastures, mountains, and beaches; this country has it all.
I have been fortunate this week to spend some time in the French countryside deep in the Loire Valley. I visited Angers (first two photos) and some nearby towns including Mayenne and Bagnoles de l’Orne. All across the region sit beautiful châteaux of all sizes, many waiting to be purchased and renovated and some sitting vacant for years already. To make use of these gems in the crown of the patrimoine française, some of them (such as the one in Bagnoles) has been repurposed as the local Mairie. I am so glad to see this gorgeous place being put to good use. It’s so sad to think of so many falling into ruins. Anyone up for the purchase and subsequent long-term maintenance of a couple-dozen-room château?? 😉
Last week, I treated myself to a day away at Giverny. As you probably know, Giverny is the town where Claude Monet lived and had the garden that was the inspiration for so many of his works of art.
I took an early train for the 45 minute ride to Vernon, caught the bus (all the while strategizing where I would sit so that I could get out quickly), then rushed to be among the first to reach Monet’s home and gardens (it opens at 9:30). My strategy was successful, but it didn’t take long for droves of tourists and several group tours to show up. If you’ve ever been to Monet’s Garden before, you know that here more than many other sites, lots of bodies can ruin any chance of a clear shot. Indeed with it being Fall, the garden was very full meaning there was a bit less space for people to walk along the paths.
After visiting Monet’s home and gardens, I made my way through the town of Giverny, then had lunch at the charming Hotel Baudy. I was so fortunate to have a beautiful Fall day with sunshine flickering on the colorful leaves. It was truly the perfect day away from Paris. I highly recommend visiting it at this time of year; the dahlias and salvia are incredibly beautiful right now.
I had the chance recently to get away (in a car!) and see some of the French countryside. I have so many photos to share, but my full computer will be putting a damper on me sharing them for now, so I have a few snaps-gone-Waterlogued here for you. The first is from a “pull over, pull over!!” moment. I got out and shot vines from every angle, all the while looking to see if anyone might come scold me. The scene was absolutely beautiful with fields of vines as far as the eye could see, all of spectacular color. I was so grateful that we stopped there because most of the rest of the vineyards I saw along the way were blocked by fences. 🙂
The second image is from breakfast at a B&B. Who doesn’t love brioche, homemade apple compote, hot tea, and homemade jam in the morning?
The final image is from a beautiful village that we were driving by and saw at the top of a hill, and once again asked if we could maybe go take a look. (Incidentally, there would be many more villages atop hills in the hours that followed.) We really fell upon a gem with this one, because Lauzerte in the Dordogne region was truly one of the most charming places I’ve ever been. I was giddy with excitement that day. We saw so many beautiful things that I’m looking forward to sharing here.