2021 Europe: Paris, Part 3 – Monet’s Gardens and Ash’s Birthday Dinner



This post is for Tuesday, August 31, and today is Thursday, September 2. I got the photos uploaded on this morning’s train ride to Lausanne, Switzerland, and am writing this on the afternoon train to Zermatt. Hoping I can get this posted before we get there! We’ll see.

This was the morning I realized I would get behind in the blog. I usually upload the photos to WordPress and place them in the post the night before, then do the writing in the morning over coffee. But the photos wouldn’t upload that night and I was getting strange messages from WordPress. I thought maybe it was a traffic thing and it would all be fine early in the morning (that’s happened in other places). No such luck.

We still had groceries from which Ash made breakfast and we headed out about 8:30am. On the Uber ride into Paris from the airport Saturday evening, I’d asked Ash if he’d ever been to Giverny, home of artist Claude Monet. He hadn’t. One of the few times I’ve been somewhere he hasn’t, I suggested it would make for a lovely side trip if he was interested. We made arrangements to rent a car Monday afternoon on our way back from the Louvre and Tuesday morning we were on our way.

Just a snip of some pretty French countryside.

Me wearing a purple polo, gray shorts, and a big smile, walking along one of the paths with flowers on either side.

I’d been here on my last trip to Europe in 2018. Then you entered from the house. This time there was a whole different path that had you enter through the rear of the house gardens first. The lily pond is actually across the highway from that, and you take a tunnel to get there. So we did that first.

lily pond with yellow daisies in the foreground

The photos here will tell the story.

Ash on the same path pointing at something in the garden.

Everywhere you look is some beautiful plant or flower.

Shows the length of the pond, starting in the foreground and running all the way to the back of the photo. White flowers on the left foreground. Big red leaves of something center foreground. Trees in shades of pink and green in the background.

Definitely one of my favorite photos of this bunch.

Red leafed plant framing the front

Actually this one I think IS my favorite. And according to the little Facebook teaser I did since I couldn’t blog, it was the favorite of several others. “Fairy tale” was actually used by someone and I agree.

lily pond across the center, pink flowers lower foreground, dark green leaves top foreground as a frame

Just like one of his paintings. Which is the thing about being here. I’ve been a fan for years and have always loved his work, but it never occurred to me that his inspiration came literally from his own backyard.

It’s a little surreal seeing all of this in real life.

Ash was fascinated with the guy in the boat cleaning the pond.

lily pond framed on the bottom by pink flowers on the left and bright magenta flowers on the right.

I love the vivid colors of these flowers in the foreground.

Similar to the one above but bluish flowers on the left, same magenta on the right.

You hardly ever see flowers that color of – blue? Purple? Whatever that is on the left I love it.

Closeup of a bright magenta flower, looks like a huge daisy with an orange center.
A bright red flower, looks like a chrysanthemum.

Ash taking a photo of a Formosa tree. My Granny had one of these in her back yard in San Antonio, which was essentially ours as well since we were next door and there was no fence separating the yards. I can’t remember seeing one anywhere else. A very unique tree with fuzzy pink blossoms.

There was a single path you could take through the house gardens to the house, everything else was closed off. You couldn’t walk through them row by row as you could before.

His pink house with green trim in the background, both pale colors, with bright pink and red flower beds in the foreground.

I find the colors here dazzling.

Paintings on the left wall, huge window in the center.

His studio, above and below, when you first enter the house.

A wall full of his paintings.

Same room, the wall you see as you enter.

His bedroom.

The view from his bedroom window.

Country yellow dining room!

Pretty modern kitchen for its time.

We had lunch at the garden restaurant just outside his house.

I had quiche Lorraine and a salad.

Ash had, fittingly, the Monet salad, with salmon and foie gras.

It’s about a 1.5 hour drive each way. On our way back we had a harrowing ride around the Arc de Triomphe. There are no traffic controls whatsoever, 12 avenues intersecting it around the circle, and cars swirling in, I don’t know, 6-10 lanes around it. Let’s just say it’s wild and I was happy when we were out of it. And even happier that Ash was driving. He was thrilled. He laughed. “Just wait until we drive in Cairo!”

We dropped the car off and started walking back to the apartment. The neighborhood is starting to feel familiar. We stopped at a Lisbon place for coffee and dessert.

Nata and cortado. Nata is a yummy egg custard in a small pie. Cortado is an espresso with a little bit of steamed milk.

One of the pedestrian-only areas on Le Marais. We did a little shopping. I tried on some shoes that Ash really wanted me to try on but dang were they uncomfortable! Pass.

Superdry is a clothing chain of casual clothes. I realized shortly after I got to San Francisco last week that somehow I’d forgotten my hoody, although I clearly remember laying it out by my bags. Oh well. I’d said then: guess I’ll just have to buy one because there will be times in Switzerland when it’s in the 30’s. We’d been looking all over and finally found one at a Superdry in the Marais, along with a fun summer shirt. The guy in the photo above is the manager. We never got his name but, if you’ve met Ash, you know he’ll talk to anyone, especially if he can charm you into giving us discounts. He did get this guy to give us more than he’d planned so gets credit for that. When he put the credit card machine in front of me he said “stick it in” to which Ash quickly said “I bet you say that to all the guys.” And this hunky guy pictured above turned the brightest shade of red and pulled his mask up over his full face trying to hide his blushing but huge smile. It was pretty funny. That’s when he handed Ash the promo item above. “Contact me on Insta” he says. (We did, but he didn’t reply…too bad…)

By the time we got back to the apartment, we just had time for quick showers and to head back out. We took the subway to our dinner destination. Ash has a friend, Bo, who he met when Bo was a guest at Ash’s Airbnb in San Francisco. Bo works at The Peninsula, a 5-star hotel in Paris. Ash reached out to him when we were planning this trip to see if he had recommendations for a nice restaurant for Ash’s birthday, which is this day – August 31. Turns out there’s a Michelin rated restaurant on the top floor with 360 views of Paris he promised, L’oiseau Blanc. So that’s where we were headed.

Ash to the left of the photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background center. Still daylight.

He wasn’t kidding about the views. Our reservation was for 7:00pm so we figured we’d get to see the lights come on at night.

The food started coming right away. Bread was served on top of a white tree stump. Later more came in a bowl which was much more practical if not as whimsical! The butter that came with it was fabulous.

I figured this was the amuse bouche, two small bites for each of us: a macaroon of some kind – raspberry with mascarpone – and crème fraiche in a buckwheat shell.

But no, this was the amuse bouche, they said when they served it. Like a very thick corn porridge with fried onion strings. Quite tasty, especially because we love corn anything.

There were only 2 starters on the menu so that made it easy: one each. We literally each ate half way through our plates then switched, passing them across the table to each other. Classy, huh? This was lobster on deep fried seaweed and some other garnishes, all edible of course we just no longer remember what they were!

Leeks at the bottom with oysters, caviar, and other things we don’t recall now. Both of these were terrific and very new for me.

There’s the bread and butter I mentioned earlier. We finished the first one just because it was there, then they immediately brought a second one. Each time still warm. You can’t ignore it then. The drinks are non-alcoholic, duh. We asked what they had that was fun and he suggested these saffron drinks. Pretty and tasty.

A bi plane propped on the roof of the building with the Eiffel tower in the background.

I will almost always use the restroom in a place like this because they often do interesting things. As far as the restroom goes, nothing was photo worthy, but what I didn’t expect was an open balcony with this view out of it. There’s a plane theme to this restaurant.

Ash had the bream – a white fish, perfectly cooked he said. A nice variety of vegetables on top.

I had the pigeon, largely because I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on a menu before. It tasted more like duck than anything, maybe a slight beef flavor, was pink in color, tender and moist. The sauce was excellent. I would do it again.

And yes, we did make it until the Eiffel Tower lit up. At this point it was literally twinkling, although later calmed down into a solid lit tower.

Ash Really likes cheese and wanted that instead of dessert. It’s his birthday after all! The bottom is goat, which he loves and I don’t, but I try it each time just to be sure. Nope. The middle was strong and good as long as you didn’t eat the outer layer, which had an odd taste to me. I had two of the white cheese at the top which was nicely mild.

When we were seated we were the only ones in the room, but it filled up quite nicely as you can see.

I got dessert anyway, a Meyer lemon tart. That outer layer was edible and the crust was inside it at the bottom. I don’t remember what the white outer layer was but you broke into that to get into the lemon inside. I really should have taken a photo of it after I opened it up but was too busy enjoying it I guess!

And the plane theme makes another appearance, as they brought Ash a final bite for his birthday – like a chocolate mousse in a vanilla wafer.

But wait, there’s more! Three more final bites for each of us (Ash ate the first one before I got a chance to take the shot!) – I don’t remember the white one, the green was pistachio, and the final was chocolate. A perfect ending. Note this was the 3rd item just brought to us, not counting the birthday bite, that we didn’t order.

It was an excellent meal in a beautiful setting. We were grateful to have such a special way to celebrate Ash’s birthday.

As we made our way to the subway station on the Champs-Elysees, I was able to catch a beautiful shot of the Arc de Triomphe all lit up. The perfect nightcap.

PS: I wasn’t able to finish this on the train ride to Zermatt. It’ll be almost 11pm Switzerland time on Thursday by the time I get this posted. One final proof and away it will go, and I’m headed to bed right after.

2 thoughts on “2021 Europe: Paris, Part 3 – Monet’s Gardens and Ash’s Birthday Dinner”

  1. What a lovely day. The gardens were beautiful and the final picture was spectacular. And a great way to celebrate Ash’s birthday!

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