France Trip Update: Day 3-4

Day 3 – 4

The adventure continues…

I was informed in the morning by the proprietor of our Bed and Breakfast that what we say wasn’t a riot or a demonstration but actually a ‘manifestation’ and that they have them quite frequently.  In fact on the way out of town we saw another group blocking traffic in a similar (though less flaming manure) sort of way.  The Bed and Breakfast we found out as we left was a restored 18th building and very nicely done.

The cathedral in Amiens is massive – as massive as I remember and it just goes on and on.  I won’t.  It was interesting to see things through a more art historical eye.  There was one chapel that was being worked on my some conservationists and it gave you a real behind the scenes sort of look at it all.  Also they have the head of John the Baptist which I somehow missed the first time around.  We spent a lot of time there – it is so serene.

The gift shop had (in English) the book that explains in great details European cathedral architecture that I had stolen on my list trip here (and that we couldn’t even find on the Internet) so buying that made me very happy.

Our next destination was Giverny. It was as lovely as ever – the sun shining and a wonderful breeze – just a magical place.  There is a museum of American art in Giverny but they were running an exhibition of … Monet!  Normally you can’t see any Monet in Giverny but they had 28 paintings from all over.  They also had a lot of photographs and even some color photographs that were originally taken for a stereoscopic display (though they were only showing one image).  A real surprise!

The house and gardens were fun.  No photo or video in the house so I just walked around with the video camera on and held it from the top handle to see if anything might come out.  The gardens were nice though not fully in bloom.  I did get a little video of me on the bridge in the Japanese garden.  Jenny is turning into a real cinematographer – positioning me for the best effect.  To make life easier I am shooting everything without any sound and then we will add voiceover in post.  This way I only need to add the microphone when I know I am going to talk.  The compromise is that we are using the shotgun mic now (and Jenny even insists that she monitors the audio to get it just right).  The base broke off of the shotgun mic (that attaches it to the camera) but we were able to jury rig a quick release mount to the microphone and the underside of my hand mount for the video camera.  It works really well.  And even with only shooting short ‘bumpers’ of 15-30 seconds each there will be a lot of them (30+castles as well as other places!).

The B&B in Giverny was almost too good to be true.  An entire split level apartment dating back to Monet’s time.  Full kitchen – 2 bedrooms (in a loft style second floor) – I can imagine spending a week there.   After we settled in we went to the cemetery and visited Monet’s grave and to give our respects.  It was a nice bit of closure to the whole space.  Jenny needed some aspirin so we drove to the next town over and I found a castle!  Well the ruin of some little towers.  I will have to fill in the name later – I think it in Vernon.  Tim opted not to go shopping so he missed it!

OK I lied – the closure to the day was dinner. Lamb and pate and crème caramel – yum yum.  Plus live music from a French band – it was really fun.  It did get cold though and the service here is not one to push you from a table or get you your check quickly.

Summary of Day 3
(1a) – Amiens Cathedral
(2a) – Monet’s House and Garndens (and Grave)
(3a) – The American Museum in Giverny
(5) – Ruined Tower in Vernon

The (a) indicates that the site is not a castle.

Day 4

Our first stop was the Chateau in Gisors.  It is a nice ruin. A little castle on an artificial hill surrounded by a curtain wall.  I can’t remember going up to the top because the last time I was there I didn’t!  We went in and looked around but to get up to the top is an hour long tour – in French – on the hour.  We walked around for a bit but skipped the tour.

I needed some lip balm and Tim wandered over to the cathedral (which we went to as well). It was a nice place and a bit of a surprise.  Those walkie talkies really come in handy for when Tim wanders off!

We then headed over to La Roche Guyon.  This is a big place.  It has troglodyte caves in the basement, a 12th century castles on the rocky hilltop, an 18th century castle with gardens by the river, Romel’s WWII bunker, and it is all connected by tunnels and mountain.  Jenny tried her EMF ghostmeter but alas she didn’t find any ghosts.  There was also an art exhibition of a surrealist who only paints imagery of Mont Saint Michel.  Very strange but very good.  The castle is quite a hike up and down and through and it took hours.

It is a good thing we stopped for Crepes before!  Oh yes my first Crepe of the trip.  Salmon and fresh cream and caviar (the last was a surprise).  Oh so good.

Our last stop of the day was the ruin of Chateau-Gaillard.  Richard the Lionheart’s stronghold.  It is a very nice ruin of what probably was a very unique looking castle.  Lots more hiking and very peaceful atmosphere as we climbed along the ruins.

After Chateau-Gaillard we drove to Caen (not Cannes were the film festival is or Kahn ie Wrath of).  We stayed at an IBIS (chain hotel) and had Italian for dinner.  Today we visit the Chateau Ducal (of William the Conqueror) and then head over to Mont Saint Michel.

On a technical note, I am loving the new camera.  The primary adjustment I use is not aperture or shutter speed but ISO.  I leave it on 100 and only adjust as needed. I find the shots tend to darker then I like so I am bracketing often and shooting between 150-200 shots a day.

Still having trouble getting the data off the GPS into something useable so that will happen soon (I hope) and later tonight I will post some more maps and another teaser picture or two.

On a continuity note – I am wearing the same shirt every day (a clean version of course).  Shaving every day has been too rough on my face so I am shaving every other day.  The joke is I am getting redder and redder.  Perhaps I will show you later tonight!

Summary of Day 4

(6) Chateau in Gisors
(4a) Cathedral in Gisors
(7) Chateau La Roche-Guyon
(8) Chateau-Gaillard

Thank for reading.  Look later for pictures and maps.  Tell your friends!


[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]