Thursday, July 2, 2009


“The Green Jersey (French: maillot vert) is the jersey worn by the leader of the Tour de France’s points classification since its introduction in 1953.” The color was originally chosen because the sponsor manufactured lawn mowers! “The green jersey classification is calculated by adding up the points collected in the stage, minus penalty points. Points are rewarded for the first cyclists to cross the finish-line or the intermediate sprint line, and for the cyclists with the fastest times in the prologue or individual time trials according to a set scheme.”

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For more information on Lance Armstrong and his new team: ASTANA

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Back to our adventure in 2004………..

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004 Around Paris to Giverny and Monet’s Gardens

We experienced our first day of real rain. It was one of those rainy days where you can generally dash here and there but need an umbrella for a long walk. We only had about a two-hour drive by toll way to our next hotel; so we decided to have another serendipity day on the local roads which turned into a four hour trip. As navigator, my job is to read the maps and road signs. That’s great if Jim slows down here and there so that I can focus long enough to read the signs.

We were doing fine until we reached the large town of Mantes la Jolie on the Seine River. Back and forth we went on one road after another. No sun for directions so we were depending on the maps and signs only. At one point we cross the Seine River and then I knew we’d gone the wrong way. Turned around and found the reason for our error: God wanted us to see a spectacular cathedral that we would never have seen had we been able to find our road! Spotted the spires as we crossed back over the Seine River and could only think about getting to the church! Found it, parked, took photos and then decided to go inside. The organist was playing a magnificent song, a Bach Cantata; and the interior was as striking as the exterior. On a side table we found a black and white photo taken in spring of 1944, on May 30th. The entire area was destroyed except for the church. On the river we saw one of the Cruise Boats that take tourists for a week long cruise up and down the Seine River; it was tied up so this was definitely a stop for them.

Back in the car we magically found our road instantly and headed towards our destination of Giverny. Giverny was the final home of the artist Monet and has a lovely garden; his second most loved occupation after painting.

Our hotel is old and quaint. We’re in the attic or as some would say a garret; on the top floor with great views and a slanted ceiling. The bed is soft and lumpy but the ambience is the fun part of it. We do have a television, telephone which has allowed me to connect to the Internet (they had to turn the phone on at the reception desk) and a full private bathroom all in one room. Our toilette has been inside its own closet in the last two hotels with the sink, bidet and tub in the second closet. The rainstorm, thunder, lightening and heavy rain; started just as we got our luggage inside the hotel. The race today is north of here and they are riding in the rain! We had a fun welcome to the hotel. Friends in Florida had sent an email to the hotel manager for us. Thanks Dave & Janice….it made our day special

Jim went to the museum to see work by the American Artists who were here before WW I; American Museum of Impressionist Art. Bowers Museum in Santa Ana (where Jim is a docent when we’re home) has many paintings by Guy Rose who painted many of them here in Giverny. After the bike race was over we drove over to visit the Monet Gardens and home. Jim had been here before and delighted in showing me all the special parts especially the pond with the lily pads. It was raining when we started and the sun broke through the clouds just as we entered the garden. Didn’t have time to see his home; but we did go down the road to the village church and cemetery for a viewing of his grave. The graveyard also held a joint grave of seven British Airmen who died together in WW II when their bomber was shot out of the sky in 1944. They were buried together here in the Giverny cemetery. The stone listed each of their names and some have verses engraved from their families.

Today’s race was a team event and Lance’s US Postal Team came in first…Lance will be wearing the yellow jersey tomorrow as the overall leader time-wise! Happy days are here again! At least for one day!

Thursday, July 8th, 2004 Normandy Coast Drive

We were off to the Normandy Coast after a truly continental breakfast in Giverny: bread, jam, some butter and coffee or tea. We’re never quite sure what the hotel will offer when we enter the breakfast room. This morning Jim requested coffee for both of us, we received a pot for two and then he requested tea for himself; leaving the pot for me. It held two cups of coffee! It was not our best hotel. I found a spring in my back during the night plus Jim felt that his fish soup came from a pot that had the fish in the bottom and they kept adding water…he never found any fish in his bowl. I had a complete salad that was great except the lettuce wasn’t washed very well and I could feel the bits of gravel in my mouth as I chewed. The cider was excellent! The village only had two other places to eat that we found; so there wasn’t much choice. After dinner I was looking out our bedroom window and saw the manager go sit on the stoop in front of the gate. I thought he was out for a smoke; but within a short time a motorcycle came up and delivered a pizza for his dinner! Jim said this was definitely a journal entry.

Overcast weather as we started towards the toll road. We decided to take the more expensive but shorter route today. It was a fee for the road to Caen and then free beyond that point; same quality of road. For those who want to know the cost; it was about one hundred miles to Caen from Vernon (near Giverny) and the cost was about ten euro.

By Caen it had started to rain and we had rain all the way along the coast until we reached Le Mont St. Michel. We stopped in Avranches at a grocery store for gasoline and also to purchase large black trash bags to put our luggage in for getting from the parking area to the hotel. We passed a touring group of five old pre-WW II automobiles, probably built somewhere in the late 1920’s to 1930’s all from England. Some of the body types were open and the rain was torrential at that time. We decided to stop at a restaurant on the causeway out to the Monastery that we’d eaten at before. Open twenty-four hours a day; good food and reasonable. It was nearly two o’clock and still raining so we decided to have our main meal of the day. Jim had a wonderful plate of fish with French green beans and I enjoyed roasted chicken and fries. Delicious food and also the rain stopped while we were there.

We arrived at the parking area for Le Mont St Michel and carried our luggage into the village walls and found the Hotel La Mere Poulard; our home for the night. It is located in the small village at the base of the Monastery. There are no cars allowed past the wall; roads are more paths than streets. But, since we had reservations we were allowed to park in lot #1; closest to the gates. We still had a piece to walk in the very strong wind that nearly knocked you down occasionally. After we finish watching the race on television today we will get out and walk through the village and enjoy the sights again. We toured the Monastery when we were here for the day in 2002; so we will spend the time exploring everything else. We have to move the car this evening before the tide comes in as most of the parking lot is covered with water for the night. The photo that is in the slideshow was taken on our approach to the Monastery after our stop for lunch.

The race today is headed south and will go through the area that we just left. But, if we’d stayed around to see them we would have arrived here very late; we changed our plans and will first view the race in Dinan. They will end their race today in Chartres.

The sun looks like it trying to come out. It’s nearly 4 pm and the sun doesn’t set until nearly 11 pm this far north during the summer months. It will be a short night!

1 comment:

Mary said...

O so enjoyed reading todays entry. Yes it would help if the driver slowed down so you could focus on the road signs.... and you got lost...
o the memories of recent times.
Loved the bit of the manager getting a pizza for his meal.