The last day of our trip was spent all over the map – quite literally – since we had a few major destinations we wanted to fit in. First up was a half-day trip out of the city to the quaint village of Giverny, best known for being the home to Monet’s gardens.
We took a 45-minute train ride through a bit of lovely French countryside to the small town of Vernon. From there, we rented bikes for the 6km trip to Giverny. This was a wonderful choice, especially since we had perfect weather. I think we both enjoyed the ride to and from Giverny almost as much as the destination itself.
We went straight to Monet’s home. The gardens behind his home/studio did not disappoint, even in mid-October when it would have been understandable to have less-than-exciting gardens:
Next we crossed under the road and visited the setting for the famous Water Lilies.
If we were to do this again, I’d give ourselves more time in Giverny. We would have liked to explore some of the little art galleries or cafes, but we had to get back to Vernon to catch the train so that we could finish up our Paris sightseeing. The bike ride back was just as fun and scenic as the ride to Giverny, though.
We had time to stop in a cute little patisserie/cafe in Vernon to enjoy a bite for lunch (and a treat of macarons, of course) before returning our bikes and boarding the train back to Paris.
The train station was on the north side of Paris, which was perfect because we had not yet had time to really explore the Montmartre area, even though we had been there two days earlier for our cooking class. First stop: La Basilique du Sacre Coeur, which sits atop the only real hill in Paris.
After touring the interior of the church (no photos allowed), we walked around the neighborhood a bit. Montmartre is known for its artsy, bohemian scene.
Before leaving the neighborhood, we stopped at a cafe for a late-afternoon glass of wine. At this point we debated whether we should go back to the hotel, but we decided we didn’t have time since we still had more to explore!
We traveled by subway to Rue Cler, a well-known market street. Unfortunately, since it was early evening by now, many of the shops were closed, but we still got a taste of what it would be like. It would definitely be more fun to visit in the morning and see the hustle and bustle. We stopped for dinner and enjoyed some lovely omelettes, and then picked up some crepes (yum, nutella!) to eat on our walk. I was really excited about our next destination, which we had intentionally saved for a nighttime visit. As we walked, I knew that if I glanced to the right I could probably catch a few glimpses, but I purposely kept my focus straight ahead. I wanted to enter the park, make a turn to the right, and see this:
It was worth the wait to see the illuminated Eiffel Tower in full view!
A few days earlier, we had purchased tickets to go up to the second level of the tower (not the top) at 10pm. We had about an hour to kill, and I didn’t have my much-needed jacket (it was much colder this evening than any other evening of the trip), but we waited it out. Unfortunately, I would have to disagree with our guidebook’s advice about buying tickets in advance, because others were able to walk right up to the ticket counter, buy tickets, and get in line for the elevators, and we had to sit and wait. Eventually, we made it up and saw the views of a lit-up Paris. I was too cold to enjoy it much (as evidenced below), but Craig explored a bit.
We took the subway back to the Odeon neighborhood and walked the stretch to our hotel for the last time, exhausted (but happy) from an extra-long, extra-busy day.
The following morning we had one last Parisian breakfast at a cafe around the corner from our hotel – baguettes and croissants and coffee and hot chocolate – and then headed off for the airport. We had our only real glitch here, with luggage in tow, when we couldn’t buy tickets at the commuter train station. The ticket window was closed and the machines wouldn’t take our US credit card. So, since I am the better navigator of the two of us, I left Craig with all of our bags and headed out to try to buy tickets. The next station didn’t have a window, and a nearby newstand only sold tickets in batches of 20. We didn’t have enough cash (or want to spend the money) for a taxi, but I knew we could stop at an ATM and go that route if we really needed to. I decided to go back to Craig and we would walk together to the next station that the newstand man told me would have a ticket window. Of course, when I got back, our ticket window was open, we bought our tickets, and all was well. This little diversion cost us about 30 minutes, so we were glad we had given ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport.
Our trip was absolutely wonderful, and we are both so happy that we took it. We hemmed and hawed over whether we should spend the money on a trip like this, especially after our hurricane issues and getting the news in mid-September that we could receive a referral any day. (Ha!) But at that point the airfare was paid for (and nonrefundable) and we decided to go for it. And we enjoyed every single second of it. We needed the break from real life and we were able to enjoy a truly special experience for just the two of us before we become a party of three. We will treasure the memories forever.