FREE Book Come to France with me DOWNLOAD NOW

French Travel Guide Books
FREE French Travel Book Download CLICK ON PHOTO

Please enjoy this FREE book – a selection of my French Travel Book writing

All my books are available on Amazon for Kindle or Kindle Unlimited and of course in Print

Neal is an established and extensively published French Travel writer with an aim is to impart his passion for France to his readers. Neal has travelled extensively in France with his family and friends and acted as ‘tour’ guide to others over the years.
Neal lived and worked in Lancashire, England and found the joy of travel later in life after a conservative travel upbringing that stretched only as far as stopping the car falling into the sea at the English coastline.
He now lives in Somerset close to his granddaughter and family and on the wonderful South West coastline that we enjoy so much. Neal loves the English game of Cricket, which he plans to write about soon, golf, soccer and photography. He has a great love of History and that is reflected in his writing.

Chocolat filmed in the quietest location village in Burgundy

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Flavigny-sur-Ozerain - L'Ange Souriant Chambres D'Hotes
Flavigny-sur-Ozerain – L’Ange Souriant Chambres D’Hotes

Chocolat

This destination is one of our favourites – Northern Burgundy. It is a much neglected part of France from a tourist standpoint. To the north is Champagne with its landscape of gently rolling vine covered hillsides. The towns of Champagne are steeped in wine making history and the money coming into the area keeps it looking expensively maintained. It is an area that will always delight but just to the south is a less travelled region that is more warts and all in its presentation. The towns are just that little more untouched and authentic, the countryside rural and pure, not quite manicured to within an inch of its life as in Champagne. It is a region that produces fine wine, wine that other than Chablis rarely reached the supermarkets of the UK. These wines are well worth finding when your car has an empty boot. They are astonishingly good value.

We are going to start this leg of our road trip in a small village in the French department of Côte-d’Or, in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. When you are asked to name one or two films set in France then the usual suspects come to mind. ‘A Good Year’, ‘Midnight in Paris’, ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’. If I ever asked the female friends of my wife then they always seemed to come up with ‘Chocolat’, the film based on the novel by English Author Joanne Harris. Starring Johnny Depp, Juliet Binoche and Judi Dench it was a popular addition to the genre. I have to say at the time of our travels I had never seen it of knew anything of the storyline. I certainly was not aware of the film location in France. Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is the setting for Chocolat and that is the village where our bed and breakfast accommodation is located. Somebody told me that film fact by the way, because you would not be aware of it when you are staying there. This rural village is just that and resolutely determined to stay one. There are no indications that it has a claim to fame, no signposts designating the places featured in the film. Certainly, there are no souvenir shops. I doubt you could even buy a bar of Chocolat. This would never be allowed to pass in England. If even an advert is filmed in the smallest of towns or villages in England they would certainly make sure you knew about it. You are absolutely not going to get the T-Shirt in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain.

I cannot say I am disappointed at that. I like my locations in France to stand on their own, keeping their individual charm. Flavigny does not disappoint on first view of the village from the Northern approach road. It looks the quintessential Plus Belle Village de France as you take it in from a distance. I pull the car over on the rise with the village beyond emerging out of the lush green countryside. The dominant feature as is the case in most French villages, however small, is the church spire. Abbaye Saint Joseph de Clairval is a particular stand out example and I should have realized, features in the film. It is a promising first impression.

Entering the village, we make our way slowly along the main street and cannot miss our clearly signed accommodation – L’Ange Souriant on Rue Voltaire. I am writing this in Covid lockdown times and of course most things are closed anyway but I suspect that this establishment is no longer trading which is a shame. It would be one of the most enjoyable places we stayed at in France, despite its modest pretentions. As I have mentioned this an extremely famous village, Hollywood superstar famous. Strangely no one seems to have told it. From entering the village, we have not encountered a soul. The first person we see is our host and then again that is not straight away by any means. She is not around when we arrive, so we have to wait, explore a few side streets winding around the property. Disturbing the slumbers of a couple of cats is the best we can achieve in bonding with the locals. Finally, the lady we are waiting for comes around the corner with her three young children. The school run accomplished she warmly greets us and apologises for not being here for our arrival. She sets the tone for our visit, and we are immediately part of the family.

Her home follows the usual style of furnishing in rural France. In our bedroom large solid chunky furniture dominates our space. Throughout Burgundy and other parts of France it seems that furniture is handed down from generation to generation. Dark wood fixtures may be well out of fashion in England but not here in France and it is always oversized. It is an extremely clean and well cared for space though and the overall atmosphere is homely and generous. Having unpacked we are welcomed into the family space, the owners three children doing their homework. As always in France little excuse is needed to offer a guest a glass of wine and our delightful host continues that tradition with a lovely light Burgundy.

Soon it is time to go in search of food, a typical Burgundy auberge perhaps in another picture-perfect village. We head out through the village gates and into the expanse of countryside beyond. The light is already gently fading with the sun just obscured by the cloud on the horizon. It is a gorgeous view and completely tranquil. As we drive down the narrow lanes and pass-through various villages it becomes readily apparent just how tranquil it actually is. Apart from the odd cat and assorted cattle in a field there is no other sign of life. Despite it being dusk very few lights are flickering in the villages and although there may be an auberge sign or two gently swaying in the breeze the attached restaurants are resolutely closed. So too are any village shops. Except one that we eventually stumble upon after driving around for around an hour. Our French evening meal feast is a couple of slightly past their best chocolate croissants and a bar of chocolate all washed down with a cheeky little half bottle of sauvignon blanc of dubious parentage. Still, being able to gorge on this feast back at the village sat by the church in the deserted town square, peace all around, it is not a bad end to the day.

Flavigny-sur-Ozerain – A quiet corner of Northern Burgundy

We explore a little more on the following morning, but Flavigny is just a pleasant, quiet Burgundian village. There is no ‘Chocolat’ tourist trail, no souvenir shops where you can buy your ‘Chocolat’ Chocolate. It is a village were the local life goes on at its slow unconcerned pace. We saw a man tinkering with a car down a side street at what I presume passes as the local garage. An old lady wanders across the church square to talk to a neighbour. That is about it really. The French do not really do celebrity transformations of their villages and that is the same story throughout Burgundy and much of France. As you tour the Burgundian countryside you pass through so many lovely villages, many are incredibly famous throughout the world. The wine villages around Beaune such as Pommard, Aloxe-Corton, Gevry Chambertain, Vosne-Romanie and so on are names to conjure with. However, when you arrive at these villages there will be just a simple village sign as there is on entering any village in France. These villages have remained small and undeveloped and if you are expecting any sort of fanfare announcing their important status then you will be disappointed. In fact if anything they discourage any additional attention. I for one am happy with that and the countryside of Burgundy remains very unspoilt and is much as it has always been. The only drawback is that because they do not overly put themselves out for the hungry tourist you can find even in summer if a restaurant only opens Wednesday to Sunday, lunch only, then those are the hours and even if there are coachloads of ready customers those hours will not change. Bring a sandwich!

Cycle by the riverside in Noyers Burgundy France

Flavigny does have its charm even if you are a disappointed ‘Chocolat’ tourist, which I am not. The old walls and gateways to the village are well worth seeking out as is the area around the church. Its charm as a filming location is obvious and although a stroll around the village will be uneventful you will encounter one or two villagers and the welcome is friendly. At the entrance to the village is the one claim to fame that the villagers will acknowledge with genuine pride – the Anise of Flavigny shop and manufacturers. It is in the Benedictine Abbey in Flavigny that this tasty little treat has been made since 1591. Always produced according to the same ancient recipe, each individual aniseed is still patiently coated in thin layers of a secret delicately flavoured syrup. To the villagers sharing a sweet with a hidden aniseed at its heart is symbolic of love itself. Having a pedigree going back through more than four centuries of history, this is one of the oldest brands in France. They do last a long time so a couple of their attractive tins for the winter are a welcome addition to any store cupboard or the car glove box. One thing however, even in this shop, you are not going to find and that is a bar of Chocolat Chocolate or a Aniseed Chocolat here in Flavigny. There are no souvenirs to be had of the film location. All the better for it really, we enjoyed the quiet and to wander round the village with my camera was a photographer’s dream – no cars, no people.

Our stay at our chambres d’hôtes here in Flavigny was extremely pleasant and we bid adieu to our host and her charming children following another copious breakfast. At least this was a regular source of food for at least one of our daily meals here in rural Northern Burgundy. Flavigny is a charming village but please bring a packed lunch if you are not coming in July or August.

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Chocolat filmed in the quietest location village in Burgundy

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Flavigny-sur-Ozerain - L'Ange Souriant Chambres D'Hotes
Flavigny-sur-Ozerain – L’Ange Souriant Chambres D’Hotes

Chocolat

This destination is one of our favourites – Northern Burgundy. It is a much neglected part of France from a tourist standpoint. To the north is Champagne with its landscape of gently rolling vine covered hillsides. The towns of Champagne are steeped in wine making history and the money coming into the area keeps it looking expensively maintained. It is an area that will always delight but just to the south is a less travelled region that is more warts and all in its presentation. The towns are just that little more untouched and authentic, the countryside rural and pure, not quite manicured to within an inch of its life as in Champagne. It is a region that produces fine wine, wine that other than Chablis rarely reached the supermarkets of the UK. These wines are well worth finding when your car has an empty boot. They are astonishingly good value.

We are going to start this leg of our road trip in a small village in the French department of Côte-d’Or, in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. When you are asked to name one or two films set in France then the usual suspects come to mind. ‘A Good Year’, ‘Midnight in Paris’, ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’. If I ever asked the female friends of my wife then they always seemed to come up with ‘Chocolat’, the film based on the novel by English Author Joanne Harris. Starring Johnny Depp, Juliet Binoche and Judi Dench it was a popular addition to the genre. I have to say at the time of our travels I had never seen it of knew anything of the storyline. I certainly was not aware of the film location in France. Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is the setting for Chocolat and that is the village where our bed and breakfast accommodation is located. Somebody told me that film fact by the way, because you would not be aware of it when you are staying there. This rural village is just that and resolutely determined to stay one. There are no indications that it has a claim to fame, no signposts designating the places featured in the film. Certainly, there are no souvenir shops. I doubt you could even buy a bar of Chocolat. This would never be allowed to pass in England. If even an advert is filmed in the smallest of towns or villages in England they would certainly make sure you knew about it. You are absolutely not going to get the T-Shirt in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain.

I cannot say I am disappointed at that. I like my locations in France to stand on their own, keeping their individual charm. Flavigny does not disappoint on first view of the village from the Northern approach road. It looks the quintessential Plus Belle Village de France as you take it in from a distance. I pull the car over on the rise with the village beyond emerging out of the lush green countryside. The dominant feature as is the case in most French villages, however small, is the church spire. Abbaye Saint Joseph de Clairval is a particular stand out example and I should have realized, features in the film. It is a promising first impression.

Entering the village, we make our way slowly along the main street and cannot miss our clearly signed accommodation – L’Ange Souriant on Rue Voltaire. I am writing this in Covid lockdown times and of course most things are closed anyway but I suspect that this establishment is no longer trading which is a shame. It would be one of the most enjoyable places we stayed at in France, despite its modest pretentions. As I have mentioned this an extremely famous village, Hollywood superstar famous. Strangely no one seems to have told it. From entering the village, we have not encountered a soul. The first person we see is our host and then again that is not straight away by any means. She is not around when we arrive, so we have to wait, explore a few side streets winding around the property. Disturbing the slumbers of a couple of cats is the best we can achieve in bonding with the locals. Finally, the lady we are waiting for comes around the corner with her three young children. The school run accomplished she warmly greets us and apologises for not being here for our arrival. She sets the tone for our visit, and we are immediately part of the family.

Her home follows the usual style of furnishing in rural France. In our bedroom large solid chunky furniture dominates our space. Throughout Burgundy and other parts of France it seems that furniture is handed down from generation to generation. Dark wood fixtures may be well out of fashion in England but not here in France and it is always oversized. It is an extremely clean and well cared for space though and the overall atmosphere is homely and generous. Having unpacked we are welcomed into the family space, the owners three children doing their homework. As always in France little excuse is needed to offer a guest a glass of wine and our delightful host continues that tradition with a lovely light Burgundy.

Soon it is time to go in search of food, a typical Burgundy auberge perhaps in another picture-perfect village. We head out through the village gates and into the expanse of countryside beyond. The light is already gently fading with the sun just obscured by the cloud on the horizon. It is a gorgeous view and completely tranquil. As we drive down the narrow lanes and pass-through various villages it becomes readily apparent just how tranquil it actually is. Apart from the odd cat and assorted cattle in a field there is no other sign of life. Despite it being dusk very few lights are flickering in the villages and although there may be an auberge sign or two gently swaying in the breeze the attached restaurants are resolutely closed. So too are any village shops. Except one that we eventually stumble upon after driving around for around an hour. Our French evening meal feast is a couple of slightly past their best chocolate croissants and a bar of chocolate all washed down with a cheeky little half bottle of sauvignon blanc of dubious parentage. Still, being able to gorge on this feast back at the village sat by the church in the deserted town square, peace all around, it is not a bad end to the day.

Flavigny-sur-Ozerain – A quiet corner of Northern Burgundy

We explore a little more on the following morning, but Flavigny is just a pleasant, quiet Burgundian village. There is no ‘Chocolat’ tourist trail, no souvenir shops where you can buy your ‘Chocolat’ Chocolate. It is a village were the local life goes on at its slow unconcerned pace. We saw a man tinkering with a car down a side street at what I presume passes as the local garage. An old lady wanders across the church square to talk to a neighbour. That is about it really. The French do not really do celebrity transformations of their villages and that is the same story throughout Burgundy and much of France. As you tour the Burgundian countryside you pass through so many lovely villages, many are incredibly famous throughout the world. The wine villages around Beaune such as Pommard, Aloxe-Corton, Gevry Chambertain, Vosne-Romanie and so on are names to conjure with. However, when you arrive at these villages there will be just a simple village sign as there is on entering any village in France. These villages have remained small and undeveloped and if you are expecting any sort of fanfare announcing their important status then you will be disappointed. In fact if anything they discourage any additional attention. I for one am happy with that and the countryside of Burgundy remains very unspoilt and is much as it has always been. The only drawback is that because they do not overly put themselves out for the hungry tourist you can find even in summer if a restaurant only opens Wednesday to Sunday, lunch only, then those are the hours and even if there are coachloads of ready customers those hours will not change. Bring a sandwich!

Cycle by the riverside in Noyers Burgundy France

Flavigny does have its charm even if you are a disappointed ‘Chocolat’ tourist, which I am not. The old walls and gateways to the village are well worth seeking out as is the area around the church. Its charm as a filming location is obvious and although a stroll around the village will be uneventful you will encounter one or two villagers and the welcome is friendly. At the entrance to the village is the one claim to fame that the villagers will acknowledge with genuine pride – the Anise of Flavigny shop and manufacturers. It is in the Benedictine Abbey in Flavigny that this tasty little treat has been made since 1591. Always produced according to the same ancient recipe, each individual aniseed is still patiently coated in thin layers of a secret delicately flavoured syrup. To the villagers sharing a sweet with a hidden aniseed at its heart is symbolic of love itself. Having a pedigree going back through more than four centuries of history, this is one of the oldest brands in France. They do last a long time so a couple of their attractive tins for the winter are a welcome addition to any store cupboard or the car glove box. One thing however, even in this shop, you are not going to find and that is a bar of Chocolat Chocolate or a Aniseed Chocolat here in Flavigny. There are no souvenirs to be had of the film location. All the better for it really, we enjoyed the quiet and to wander round the village with my camera was a photographer’s dream – no cars, no people.

Our stay at our chambres d’hôtes here in Flavigny was extremely pleasant and we bid adieu to our host and her charming children following another copious breakfast. At least this was a regular source of food for at least one of our daily meals here in rural Northern Burgundy. Flavigny is a charming village but please bring a packed lunch if you are not coming in July or August.

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

FREE Book Come to France with me DOWNLOAD NOW

French Travel Guide Books
FREE French Travel Book Download CLICK ON PHOTO

Please enjoy this FREE book – a selection of my French Travel Book writing

All my books are available on Amazon for Kindle or Kindle Unlimited and of course in Print

Neal is an established and extensively published French Travel writer with an aim is to impart his passion for France to his readers. Neal has travelled extensively in France with his family and friends and acted as ‘tour’ guide to others over the years.
Neal lived and worked in Lancashire, England and found the joy of travel later in life after a conservative travel upbringing that stretched only as far as stopping the car falling into the sea at the English coastline.
He now lives in Somerset close to his granddaughter and family and on the wonderful South West coastline that we enjoy so much. Neal loves the English game of Cricket, which he plans to write about soon, golf, soccer and photography. He has a great love of History and that is reflected in his writing.

Portleven Harbour Cornwall looking over to the Ship Inn

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Porthleven is a great place for enjoying painting in the wonderful light

Porthleven is one of our favourite Cornish towns. You need to take care on this small pier at the entrance to the harbour. You can easily be caught out by a gust of wind or the tide crashing in which it regularly does in Porthleven. The harbour is a great place to enjoy an outdoor meal, perhaps a fresh crab sandwich and a pint. It boast a superb fishmonger and that with a good wine supply is all ask from a holiday destination. The long beach and cliff walks are spectacular and an excellent place to clear the head by a long walk both sides of the town.

FREE Book Come to France with me DOWNLOAD NOW

French Travel Guide Books
FREE French Travel Book Download CLICK ON PHOTO

Please enjoy this FREE book – a selection of my French Travel Book writing

All my books are available on Amazon for Kindle or Kindle Unlimited and of course in Print

Neal is an established and extensively published French Travel writer with an aim is to impart his passion for France to his readers. Neal has travelled extensively in France with his family and friends and acted as ‘tour’ guide to others over the years.
Neal lived and worked in Lancashire, England and found the joy of travel later in life after a conservative travel upbringing that stretched only as far as stopping the car falling into the sea at the English coastline.
He now lives in Somerset close to his granddaughter and family and on the wonderful South West coastline that we enjoy so much. Neal loves the English game of Cricket, which he plans to write about soon, golf, soccer and photography. He has a great love of History and that is reflected in his writing.

Writing a New French Travel Book from home

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Sadly, travel to France is still not possible. However, I still want to enjoy writing. So, my current project involves some new writing about regions I have so far not covered. These include Normandy and Brittany, parts of Burgundy and Beaujolais and the Lot et Garonne. I have decided to make this a larger book – a tour de France by using some excepts from my four book serious on France. This give the opportunity for readers who have not read all my books to get a flavour of them but also offer lots of new writing also. Hopefully, I can travel again soon and write about post Covid France where I am sure there are some great new adventures awaiting the traveller.

This is an except of new writing from my next book:

Monet’s House & Giverny

The story goes that Monet in his search for a house to accommodate his growing family set out one day from Paris by train and spotted what was then the tiny hamlet of Giverny. Standing out in the cluster of properties along Giverny’s long main street he saw from his carriage a long but low house set in surrounding scrubland. The railway line is no longer there although there was no halt in any case at Giverny so Monet walked back through the fields from Vernon to find this property. What made this building stand out was that unusually it faced away from the road towards the river. For a modern day visitor there is no inkling of the beauty behind the stark long wall on the main street.  He found to his delight that this property was available for rent and the rest is history. Monet eventually purchased the house and garden and you could say it is bequeathed now to all the visitors that can experience this most magical of places.

Monet was at the time a widow after the death of his first wife and mother to his children – Camille Doncieux. Before her death however he had begun a relationship with a woman of a higher social standing than himself. Alice Hoschedé became his lady-friend as they would have been discretely known and with Camille and their children they lived as a menage for some time up until Camille’s death. At Giverny Monet and Alice set up home with his two sons and her six children although they could not marry until 1892 after the death of Alice’s husband Ernest. The house would be Monet’s delightful home for the rest of his life and he was completely devoted to the property and gardens, all becoming synonymous with his name. In front of the house lies the Clos Normand, full of flowers. The other side of the road he developed into what we see today by having the waterlily pond constructed. To achieve his aim, he was decisive and didn’t hesitate to change the landscape by diverting a branch of the Epte River. We shall visit the house and gardens more than once on our stay but first we must find our accommodation for the final leg of this trip.

La Pluie de Roses is located some way past Monet’s house as you come to the end of the village. We are welcomed after our rather fraught day collecting and driving our hire car by Philippe and Elisabeth. They couple have recently sold this gorgeous property but the current owner appears from the excellent reviews to have more than maintained their high standards. Giverny is blessed with some fine Bed and Breakfast accommodation with this property exceeding our expectations. The rooms are beautifully decorated in a style that could only be encountered in France. There are some quirky touches especially in the downstairs bathroom that is adorned with theatre posters and related photos. It could be a place to linger and read the walls. Our bedroom is sumptuous and in sympathy with the period of the house. It also has a quirky feature in that the fabulous shower has to one side a full-length plain window. You get a great view out over the village and presumably someone in the right place at the right time will get more of a view than they bargained for. The odds are in your favour due to the position of the bathroom – but you just never know. The house has a wraparound garden that is lovingly tended. The grand stone steps that lead to the French doors at the rear of the house are a very typical feature in a house of this style. It has an intimate grandeur.

The hosts do not provide an evening meal but there are some good options for dining in Giverny. We contented ourselves on this first evening with a light snack before sleeping very well, only waking with the birdsong, ready for the main event of our visit – Monet’s house and garden.

Our hosts at La Pluie de Roses have an especially useful scheme whereby they can sell you tickets to enter Monet’s house and gardens. It is only when you gain a sight off the house that you realize just how much of a life saver this is. Strolling to the front of a queue that stretches back way down the main street and gaining instant admission to the accompanying despair and groans of the waiting throngs was a great relief. Actually we did not go straight into the gardens. Just by the entrance a young newly married couple were emerging after having had some wedding photographs taken in Monet’s garden. It would be difficult to beat that for a location for your photographs. They kindly obliged while I took a couple of photographs of my own and they added a touch of glamour to the scene on this hot sunny morning.

As you pass through the entrance the gardens are on first impression slightly underwhelming. I think it is because you feel that an iconic Japanese bridge should be right there in front of you. There is no question that expectations are extremely high. Initially, however, you must make your way around a grassy section complete with discarded garden tools and a wheelbarrow before you come round to your first view of the long low house that Monet so loved. Now you are completely engrossed and drawn into this magical place that Monet created and has been lovingly maintained as an incredibly special place in France. The house is gently shaded from view by the lush growth of the trees and plants as Monet skilfully teases you to explore and find the perfect view of his house. That perhaps is to be found when you reach the main pathway leading up to the house, a view that Monet captured so well. Today that pathway is flanked by a gorgeous array of flowers in the lush borders either side of the path. One of the tricks he used, one which shows his skill not just as a painter but as a gardener, is how he leads you around the pathways to continue giving you different glimpses of the house. It is stunningly beautiful. If you have done your homework and have a love of his Giverny paintings, you will also be able to imagine and indeed expect one of his children to emerge from behind a tree or shrub or emerge from the house into the garden.

The setting for painting his young ones would have been magical and inspiring for him and you can clearly understand why he painted so many canvases of a personal nature here at Giverny. Monet also liked to take himself away and be alone in the garden. He would not have lacked for any number of beautiful subjects in the garden in front of the house. Then he could go across the railway into the Japanese garden and be quite peacefully secluded to paint the images that he is most famous for. Today the Japanese garden is reached by a short subway that takes you under the road where you are transported back in time to an atmospheric setting that is beautifully tended and familiar to anyone with the slightest knowledge of Monet’s work.

The Japanese section of Monet’s garden is a delight and very sympathetically maintained. Although the lily ponds and the ubiquitous bridges are of course the highlights you have come to see it is the secluded, tucked away parts of the garden that really delight. The area shaded by the trees with a small river of water, a rowing boat tied up by the bank waiting for Monet to step in with his easel and paints.

Monet House and garden Giverny France

These atmospheric tableaux really transport your imagination back in time, giving a genuine sense of how Monet must have delighted in the construction of this gorgeous garden and then to enjoy using it to paint some of his most enduring landscapes. They are also a welcome quiet section to enjoy before embarking on the path around the Japanese garden, a path that will need a little patience to negotiate. Being one of the world’s most famous gardens you will find it busy at most times. Waiting for a loving couple to finally finish their photography on one of the famous bridges does need some tolerance on your part but it is worth the wait. The views from the bridges over the lily ponds are spectacular and do not be put off or intimidated – take your time and get the shots you want. You will be glad you endured when you get home.

Monet House and Garden – a quiet spot with the Japanese Bridge.

A French Journey by Photography – Take a tour

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Abbesses Metro station Paris France

All the photography was taken by myself on our visits to Paris and the French regions. I hope you enjoy them and please look up my stories of our travels on Amazon.

Neal is an established and extensively published French Travel writer with an aim is to impart his passion for France to his readers. Neal has travelled extensively in France with his family and friends and acted as ‘tour’ guide to others over the years.
Neal lived and worked in Lancashire, England and found the joy of travel later in life after a conservative travel upbringing that stretched only as far as stopping the car falling into the sea at the English coastline.
He now lives in Somerset close to his granddaughter and family and on the wonderful South West coastline that we enjoy so much. Neal loves the English game of Cricket, which he plans to write about soon, golf, soccer and photography. He has a great love of History and that is reflected in his writing.

A French Journey by Photography – Take a tour

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Abbesses Metro station Paris France

All the photography was taken by myself on our visits to Paris and the French regions. I hope you enjoy them and please look up my stories of our travels on Amazon.

Neal is an established and extensively published French Travel writer with an aim is to impart his passion for France to his readers. Neal has travelled extensively in France with his family and friends and acted as ‘tour’ guide to others over the years.
Neal lived and worked in Lancashire, England and found the joy of travel later in life after a conservative travel upbringing that stretched only as far as stopping the car falling into the sea at the English coastline.
He now lives in Somerset close to his granddaughter and family and on the wonderful South West coastline that we enjoy so much. Neal loves the English game of Cricket, which he plans to write about soon, golf, soccer and photography. He has a great love of History and that is reflected in his writing.

Writing a New French Travel Book from home

Please enjoy my Travel books – LINK TO YOUR COUNTRY : https://bit.ly/bookneal

Sadly, travel to France is still not possible. However, I still want to enjoy writing. So, my current project involves some new writing about regions I have so far not covered. These include Normandy and Brittany, parts of Burgundy and Beaujolais and the Lot et Garonne. I have decided to make this a larger book – a tour de France by using some excepts from my four book serious on France. This give the opportunity for readers who have not read all my books to get a flavour of them but also offer lots of new writing also. Hopefully, I can travel again soon and write about post Covid France where I am sure there are some great new adventures awaiting the traveller.

This is an except of new writing from my next book:

Monet’s House & Giverny

The story goes that Monet in his search for a house to accommodate his growing family set out one day from Paris by train and spotted what was then the tiny hamlet of Giverny. Standing out in the cluster of properties along Giverny’s long main street he saw from his carriage a long but low house set in surrounding scrubland. The railway line is no longer there although there was no halt in any case at Giverny so Monet walked back through the fields from Vernon to find this property. What made this building stand out was that unusually it faced away from the road towards the river. For a modern day visitor there is no inkling of the beauty behind the stark long wall on the main street.  He found to his delight that this property was available for rent and the rest is history. Monet eventually purchased the house and garden and you could say it is bequeathed now to all the visitors that can experience this most magical of places.

Monet was at the time a widow after the death of his first wife and mother to his children – Camille Doncieux. Before her death however he had begun a relationship with a woman of a higher social standing than himself. Alice Hoschedé became his lady-friend as they would have been discretely known and with Camille and their children they lived as a menage for some time up until Camille’s death. At Giverny Monet and Alice set up home with his two sons and her six children although they could not marry until 1892 after the death of Alice’s husband Ernest. The house would be Monet’s delightful home for the rest of his life and he was completely devoted to the property and gardens, all becoming synonymous with his name. In front of the house lies the Clos Normand, full of flowers. The other side of the road he developed into what we see today by having the waterlily pond constructed. To achieve his aim, he was decisive and didn’t hesitate to change the landscape by diverting a branch of the Epte River. We shall visit the house and gardens more than once on our stay but first we must find our accommodation for the final leg of this trip.

La Pluie de Roses is located some way past Monet’s house as you come to the end of the village. We are welcomed after our rather fraught day collecting and driving our hire car by Philippe and Elisabeth. They couple have recently sold this gorgeous property but the current owner appears from the excellent reviews to have more than maintained their high standards. Giverny is blessed with some fine Bed and Breakfast accommodation with this property exceeding our expectations. The rooms are beautifully decorated in a style that could only be encountered in France. There are some quirky touches especially in the downstairs bathroom that is adorned with theatre posters and related photos. It could be a place to linger and read the walls. Our bedroom is sumptuous and in sympathy with the period of the house. It also has a quirky feature in that the fabulous shower has to one side a full-length plain window. You get a great view out over the village and presumably someone in the right place at the right time will get more of a view than they bargained for. The odds are in your favour due to the position of the bathroom – but you just never know. The house has a wraparound garden that is lovingly tended. The grand stone steps that lead to the French doors at the rear of the house are a very typical feature in a house of this style. It has an intimate grandeur.

The hosts do not provide an evening meal but there are some good options for dining in Giverny. We contented ourselves on this first evening with a light snack before sleeping very well, only waking with the birdsong, ready for the main event of our visit – Monet’s house and garden.

Our hosts at La Pluie de Roses have an especially useful scheme whereby they can sell you tickets to enter Monet’s house and gardens. It is only when you gain a sight off the house that you realize just how much of a life saver this is. Strolling to the front of a queue that stretches back way down the main street and gaining instant admission to the accompanying despair and groans of the waiting throngs was a great relief. Actually we did not go straight into the gardens. Just by the entrance a young newly married couple were emerging after having had some wedding photographs taken in Monet’s garden. It would be difficult to beat that for a location for your photographs. They kindly obliged while I took a couple of photographs of my own and they added a touch of glamour to the scene on this hot sunny morning.

As you pass through the entrance the gardens are on first impression slightly underwhelming. I think it is because you feel that an iconic Japanese bridge should be right there in front of you. There is no question that expectations are extremely high. Initially, however, you must make your way around a grassy section complete with discarded garden tools and a wheelbarrow before you come round to your first view of the long low house that Monet so loved. Now you are completely engrossed and drawn into this magical place that Monet created and has been lovingly maintained as an incredibly special place in France. The house is gently shaded from view by the lush growth of the trees and plants as Monet skilfully teases you to explore and find the perfect view of his house. That perhaps is to be found when you reach the main pathway leading up to the house, a view that Monet captured so well. Today that pathway is flanked by a gorgeous array of flowers in the lush borders either side of the path. One of the tricks he used, one which shows his skill not just as a painter but as a gardener, is how he leads you around the pathways to continue giving you different glimpses of the house. It is stunningly beautiful. If you have done your homework and have a love of his Giverny paintings, you will also be able to imagine and indeed expect one of his children to emerge from behind a tree or shrub or emerge from the house into the garden.

The setting for painting his young ones would have been magical and inspiring for him and you can clearly understand why he painted so many canvases of a personal nature here at Giverny. Monet also liked to take himself away and be alone in the garden. He would not have lacked for any number of beautiful subjects in the garden in front of the house. Then he could go across the railway into the Japanese garden and be quite peacefully secluded to paint the images that he is most famous for. Today the Japanese garden is reached by a short subway that takes you under the road where you are transported back in time to an atmospheric setting that is beautifully tended and familiar to anyone with the slightest knowledge of Monet’s work.

The Japanese section of Monet’s garden is a delight and very sympathetically maintained. Although the lily ponds and the ubiquitous bridges are of course the highlights you have come to see it is the secluded, tucked away parts of the garden that really delight. The area shaded by the trees with a small river of water, a rowing boat tied up by the bank waiting for Monet to step in with his easel and paints.

Monet House and garden Giverny France

These atmospheric tableaux really transport your imagination back in time, giving a genuine sense of how Monet must have delighted in the construction of this gorgeous garden and then to enjoy using it to paint some of his most enduring landscapes. They are also a welcome quiet section to enjoy before embarking on the path around the Japanese garden, a path that will need a little patience to negotiate. Being one of the world’s most famous gardens you will find it busy at most times. Waiting for a loving couple to finally finish their photography on one of the famous bridges does need some tolerance on your part but it is worth the wait. The views from the bridges over the lily ponds are spectacular and do not be put off or intimidated – take your time and get the shots you want. You will be glad you endured when you get home.

Monet House and Garden – a quiet spot with the Japanese Bridge.
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