Chapter 16 - Claude and Camille
If you missed last week's post (you really should read it), Dave and I spent a little over a week in France, a few weeks back. We started in Paris and took a river cruise (rivieracruises.com) up to Les Andelys, Rouen and the Normandy beaches. The next step in our France adventure was Honfleur, a beautiful harbor town in Normandy. The old town has many half-timbered homes as well as churches and eclectic shops. We were there on a Saturday which was market day and the streets were full of vendors selling produce, bread, cider and cavaldos (a brandy like liquor and specialty of the region), cheeses, sausages, leather goods and clothing. In addition there was a man cooking mussels and lobsters in a huge paella pan basting them with garlic butter.
Honfleur was the home of a few painters and authors, one of the most prolific writers was Francoise Sagan, the author of Bonjour Tristesse or Hello Sadness among other books. The story is a coming of age one where a young woman decides she is going to meddle in her widowed father's love life. Of course, it ends badly for all.
We then went to Giverny the home of Claude Monet and his beautiful garden. The garden closes for the winter and had just reopened in early April. It was in bloom with tulips, azaelas, jonquils and other flowers too numerous to name. There are many books about Monet's life and gardens (which he grew just to paint, by the way), but one of the best is the novel about Claude and his wife Camille. Monet was expected to join his father in his nautical supplies business but instead followed his dream to become a painter. His wife believed in his talents and although they struggled he developed into a well known impressionist painter. Their story in Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell is beautiful and heart-breaking.
Then it was back to Paris for us and a long plane trip home. It was a glorious vacation and once again, France hit all the senses!