Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Accommodations in Giverny

I got lost again trying leaving Brugge. I went down a street that was blocked for construction and it turned into a dead end. I must have looked like I knew what I was doing because a two other cars followed me into the same trap. We all had to back up. But at least getting out of Brugge was a little easier. You just drive in one direction until you hit the ring road and then follow it around until you get where you want to cross the moat and exit. And so, with a minor detour, we are off to France.

I had my first encounter with the French near Lille. I was slightly lost and needing gas. I stopped at a Shell station and took my map in to ask where I was. Of course, the young man at the counter didn’t speak English and I had a limited knowledge of French. We did our best in sign language and we were joined by a truck driver who added his knowledge to the mix. In the end, I was successful in finding out where I was and I was pleasantly surprised at the patient helpfulness of these two strangers. It would be the first of many meetings with helpful French people.

Normandy is beautiful. It’s agricultural land with rolling hills, quaint towns and the odd chateau on the top of a hill. The view when we came to the edge of the bluff and descended into the Seine River valley was spectacular.

I had booked us into what I thought was going to be a beautiful river side hotel near the town of Vernon. I had my first pangs of doubt when I saw a weatherbeaten sign that directed me through a dark and narrow tunnel under the rail road tracks. The pictures on the web site must have been taken in better times because we found the place to be in dire need of maintenance and a coat of paint. And it didn’t have air conditioning.

We immediately set off looking for an alternate hotel and quickly discovered that air conditioning was not a common hotel amenity in Normandy. We eventually settled for a Comfort Inn that at least was clean and well cared for. And we left the windows open.

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