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Part Four of Family Paris, Brittany, Normandy Trip Report: Honfleur, Rouen, Giverny

Part Four of Family Paris, Brittany, Normandy Trip Report: Honfleur, Rouen, Giverny

Old Nov 8th, 2002, 04:36 AM
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amy
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Part Four of Family Paris, Brittany, Normandy Trip Report: Honfleur, Rouen, Giverny

Honfleur: This board was very helpful in deciding our post trip plans. Having considered Trouville, Deauville, etc., enlightened posters said, &quot;Honfleur is it.&quot; Yes, it's touristy, but in the same way that Anapolis is touristy. <BR><BR>Of course, I made the mistake of wanting to see the towns in which we did not stay. We took the coastal route instead of the autoroute and were stuck in French vacation traffic. But we certainly got to see why the Normandy experts here said not to spend time elsewhere. All the towns had some charm to it, but it wasn't what we were seeking.<BR><BR>Our accomodations (again, thanks to this board) were at the L'Absinthe Hotel, the same place that operates the restaurant. We <BR>must have had an &quot;off&quot; night at the Absinthe restaurant. Our service was shabby and the food was good but not as outstanding as so many reviewers have described. The hotel was quite good. Accommodations are expensive in Honfleur, and we felt we got our money's worth. My husband and I took the suite on the top floor. The room was dark (the hotel is dark) but the bathroom is to die for.
 
Old Nov 8th, 2002, 04:43 AM
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amy
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After breakfast by the harbor the next day, we set out for Rouen. I want to add that we would be willing to go back to Honfleur and &quot;hang.&quot; Several British couples were staying at our hotel, and they said they come over on the ferry several times a year--it's a relaxing weekend. <BR><BR>We were going to Rouen on a Tuesday, a day I knew most things were closed. Still, I had wanted to see this city; the previous year we had concentated on Joan of Arc places and couldn't fit in this one. It worked out fine. We took the Petite Train (again, I love being la tourista on these things)which gave us a good city overview. Told my husband we had to take kids to England to see Chester and York--Rouen just reminded me of those places, and I had a flashback of how charmed I was by them at age sixteen.<BR><BR>We enjoyed the cathedral (good to combine when going on to see Giverny), but were stunned by person walking dog inside. ????? I do have a pet peeve (no pun intended) about tourists' behavior in churches. For just one hour or less, can people refrain from eating, drinking, shouting, and taking pictures? What is so difficult?<BR><BR>Back to the topic...we left Rouen for Giverny late afternoon.<BR><BR>Next: La Reserve
 
Old Nov 8th, 2002, 04:45 AM
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The final two nights of our last France trip were spent at La Reserve, just outside Giverny. It was delightful. My husband was not as impressed by the place as much as the owner--Didier Brunner has to be one of the best hosts we've ever encountered.<BR><BR>The place is unique in that it's completely new, but was built by Didier and two men to look and feel very old. Each of the large rooms are quite different. His wife made all the draperies with gorgeous fabric. <BR><BR>You can access information about it at http://giverny.org/hotels/brunet/index.htm<BR><BR>It was like having a den mother during our stay. After a warm welcome, Didier got us refreshments, and then made a highlighted a map of all the local restaurants. He sold us &quot;group&quot; tickets for the Monet gardens, made sure we knew how to get in by that entrance, and was pleased that we planned to be there at opening. He was worried we didn't have hair dryers. He was quite concerned we were leaving early the last day without breakfast, and he spent quite a bit of time with my husband going over driving directions. <BR><BR>As we came and went from the B&amp;B, he was always busy with his wife working on the grounds--cutting grass, pruning, painting. He and his wife and their St. Bernard live in a red barn on the grounds. It's just gorgeous property. His work also extended to Giverny--the field landscaping near the American Impressionist museum was his handiwork (he didn't tell us--we read it in the museum brochure).<BR><BR>As we were leaving, we decided we'd better study what else we could see in the area (we did Auvers-sur-Oise from there) beside Les Andelys so that we'd have an excuse to return. It was that nice!<BR>
 
Old Nov 8th, 2002, 05:08 AM
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amy
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Giverny and Auvers sur Oise:<BR><BR>Upon Didier's recommendation, our first night's meal was at Le Mougin near Fourges. The food was quite good; the service was not. <BR><BR>As instructed by Didier, we were at Giverny at opening. Wow, did that make a difference. The gardens stunned us. I look at the photographs today and they are surreal. Looks as though the kids are standing against painted backdrops. We had just seen Renoir's farm home in the spring, so it was fabulous to get a sense of another artist's interior life.<BR><BR>We visited the American Impressionist museum, and we feel it was not really worth our time. The gardens were gorgeous there, but the temporary exhibit was quite modern--I don't think we were mentally prepared for that.<BR><BR>We left Giverny for the hour ride to Auvers sur Oise, the last residence of Van Gogh. Considering that the town has no paintings of his, it does a great job of presenting his art by wonderful displays of prints at various intersections, landmarks around town. A constant &quot;then&quot; and &quot;now&quot; comparison. <BR><BR>A brochure for the town illustrates several different ways to &quot;tackle&quot; all the little landmarks. We started at the church, visited the cemetary and wheatfields, visited the Ravoux inn to see Van Gogh's room and attend the film, and finished with the Absinthe Museum.<BR><BR>We tried to eat at the Ravoux Inn, but reservations are a must: 3301 30 36 60 60. The waiter there was kind enough to direct us to a little restaurant just below the church. I hope the correct name is &quot;The Rose,&quot; for it was one of our most delightful meals in Francce. The food was a good value, and the service was very warm and attentive. We just had the special quiche and salad (excellent), but the real star was dessert. We had choices of ten or so dessert laid across a sideboard. Hardest part of our day was choosing.<BR>
 
Old Nov 8th, 2002, 05:15 AM
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amy
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I made a typo with the restaurant in Fourges: the correct name is Le Moulin (de Fourges).<BR><BR>Returning to La Reserve, we just wanted a quick, informal meal before we packed. We ate outside at the Hotel Baudy. While it was Ok, we probably should have just driven down the road a bit to Vernon to one of the three establishments Didier recommended there.<BR><BR>We returned to our lovely, huge rooms to pack. At dawn we left our rental car outside of Paris, took a short train hop and whisked ourselves by taxi to CDG.<BR><BR>It was a lovely trip, and I look back on it as one of our best family trips ever.
 
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