French teacher, travel lover and train enthusiast, Ben Ratliff writes about his “life changing” journey across Europe. Armed with a France Rail Pass and an Eastern European Pass (courtesy of Rail Europe), Ben visited Bucharest, Prague, Vienna, Paris, Avignon, Nice and Bordeaux with his partner and (soon-to-be) in-laws. We hope that you find his journey as inspiring as we did.
The future in-laws on their first one-week trip to Paris arrived yesterday. Yes, this was a good thing for those of you who have in-laws! Fortunately, they decided to come with their son, Michael, my fiancé. While carefully choosing a readers digest itinerary, I made it clear that Giverny would be at the top of the list of places to see while staying in the area.
Unlike Versailles, Monet’s house is about 45 minutes, by train, outside of Paris. Once again, I used the RailEurope App on my phone in order to find direct train service to Vernon, the village connecting Giverny by rail via Navette bus service. One would think that trains would depart regularly to Eden, otherwise known as Giverny. The schedule provided four direct service options at various times of the day, mostly in the afternoon.
Giverny never tires. While recuperating from jet lag in Vienna six weeks earlier, I saw a documentary about Monet’s house. Did you know a gardner dusts the lily pads once a week in order to maintain their pristine appearance? Similar to Olmsted’s Central Park in New York City, the winding paths near the lily ponds create an illusion of a never ending park. To see the magic land once cultivated by Claude Monet through newcomers eyes invigorated me.
With a round-trip bus ticket from the train station (Vernon) to Giverny, the conductor gave us a schedule that allowed plenty of time to board the train headed towards Paris. My favorite part about any brief train ride in or out of a city center is the time spent looking at the pictures, reliving the moments and landscapes that shaped our experience.