For the past few blog posts, I’ve been writing about a trip to Nancy before my summer job begins. Now it’s possible that quite a different opportunity might be unfolding. This is the seventieth anniversary of the Allied offensive to liberate France. My mother’s brother died on August 19, 1944 in the Battle for the Seine. He was only 21 years old. He’s buried in a cemetery in the village of Putot-en-Auge. His story has become important folklore in our family. My parents, my oldest brother, and I are going to try to make it to see where he fought, died, and is buried. Plans are still shifting from day to day, and we may not be able to pull this off, but this is the possible plan. Even if we can’t make it work with the tight time parameters we’re working with, we can try again next year. This anniversary is only symbolic, after all.
- Day 1: Paris to Giverny
- Day 2: Caen
- Day 3: Putot-en-Auge
- Day 4: Honfleur
- Day 5: back to Paris
Here’s the detailed plan for Day 1: We’ll head north-west from Paris to Giverny, where Claude Monet moved in 1883. His former home is decorated as it was when he lived there, including large-scale reproductions of many of his most famous paintings. Of course, his garden is the real star. He tended thousands and thousands of flowers and the pond with the Japanese bridge and lily pads attracts tourists from around the world. My mom loves flowers, so this is a natural first stop. French writer As Victor Hugo said, “L’âme d’une fleur parle au cœur d’une femme,” (lam doon flur parl owe kur doon fam), which means “The soul of a flower speaks to the heart of a woman.”
A few hundred yards down the road is the musée des Impressionismes, formerly known as the musée d’Art américain. Their current exhibit is L’Impressionisme et les Américains, featuring eighty works by painters such as Mary Cassat, John Singer Sargent, and James Whistler and the scenes of Giverny, Paris, and various American cities.
When I came here with my daughter a number of years ago, we stayed at L’Hôtel d’Évreux in the little town of Vernon, a couple of miles away from Giverny (11 place d’Évreux Vernon, 27200 T. 02.32.21.16.12 F. 02.32.21.32.73). It’s in an old inn that looks a little rustic, but the restaurant downstairs is quite wonderful. The town of Vernon itself is quaint with several tempting antique shops in tiny, half-timbered houses and pretty river views.