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Review: Monet's Garden

Escorted Tour - Coach

Giverny, France

Monet's Garden and chateaux of the Loire Valley

  • By SilverTraveller Arabesque

    5 reviews

  • Apr 2012
  • Partner

126 people found this review helpful

We were met at St Pancras Station by Lorna, a cheerful and knowledgeable courier. In Paris we joined a sparkling Dutch coach, driven by Marco. Coach seats were pre-allocated on a time of booking so we were fairly near the front. The first night we stayed in Vernon and travelled to Monet's Garden in Giverny the next morning. This did not disappoint with masses of tulips and other spring flowers and shrubs. We had time to look round the house, admire the paintings, and get a cup of coffee before boarding the coach to Chartres. The cathedral is magnificent, but unfortunately renovations were going on and we could only see the first part of the nave as the rest was blocked with scaffolding. The next three nights were spent in the Alliance Hotel in Tours which was centrally situated so handy for getting an evening meal and wandering round the city. Trams are being installed in Tours so some streets were messy and closed to traffic, but pedestrians were allowed access. We found our fellow travellers very friendly and we exchanged details of where we'd found good places to eat in the evening. Next day we travelled along the Loire Valley to the Chateau of Villandry which has extensive gardens, some edged with box hedges and filled with colourful vegetables and their leaves. This garden has been on BBC Gardener's World and it was a delight to see it for real. It is all beautifully kept with an immaculate mirror lake, a maze and themed garden areas. The chateau was impressive too. On the way back to our hotel we visited Chinon a mediaeval town. We then went to Amboise with its castle and more importantly, Leonardo's house. This was fascinating as Yale University had made up models of da Vinci's ideas and it was spell-binding to see his 'helicopter, parachute, hand-glider' and other mechanical devices, all powered with rope and pulleys. In the garden were other full-size models with a working tank firing cannons (blanks of course!). We walked down the hillinto Amboise and took advantage of the lovely sunshine to sit outside a cafe, taking in the atmosphere and drinking wine, with the nibbles the French provide when you order a drink. There was even a tame macaw parrot to add to the scene. During the afternoon we visited Chenonceau chateau where Mary Queen of Scots spend part of her childhood and again there was a wonderful garden to explore as well as the chateau. That evening we were taken to a local French restaurant where we ate local dishes. Our next chateau was Fontainbleau, surely one of the most impressive chateau in France, and we also had time to look at the town. Our final night was spent at the Mercure Parc du Coudray, south of Paris – a modern hotel, but breakfast was rather chaotic as the bacon ran out, the scrambled eggs were cold and the coffee difficult to acquire. Our journey back to Paris was enhanced by Marco taking us on a coach tour of Paris and Lorna pointing out the sights. A ride on the Bateau Mouche completed our holiday, but there was time for those who wanted to walk to the Eiffel Tower or, as we did, stroll along the banks of the Seine and have a final meal in Paris. Eurostar was unfortunately delayed as someone had been ill on the incoming train, so we had rather a rush to catch our train at Euston – no time to visit the Champagne Bar at St Pancras. This was a very well organised trip, with a courier who had spent 20+ years in France so could point out places of interest and give us the local history. Lorna knew the best places to stop for photo opportunities and even persuaded the staff at Eurostar to let the Riviera party board the train before anyone else! We enjoyed this holiday and would certainly travel with Riviera again.

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