Once we had regained sufficient energy for sensible conversation , we realised that our synchronicity was getting a bit scary. We had both had the same thought at the same time ie. - stay another night here, make the most of the culture in Rouen and the environs ( Giverney), do some washing and rest those legs. Luckily the Hotel could let us have our room for another night so after cancelling the next proposed stop we proceeded to plan the day.
First stop laundrette. Can be tricky in England but in France with the extra layer of bureaucracy that simply has to be added to every transaction it was a minor challenge. The lady in charge was very sweet though and promised not to sell our lycra whilst we were indulging our cultural leanings.
The next stop therefore had to be the Musee des Beaux Arts. A truly fantastic collection . I would thoroughly recommend a visit. The art is arranged in chronological order which I railed against at first but soon saw the sense in it. There seemed to be a top notch example of every art movement from the 16th to the 21st century- and loads of Impressionists. The Museum was full of school groups. We were particularly taken with the primary age group listening with jaws agape to the bloody tale depicted in a huge 18th century wall painting- lots of beheadings, bodies being thrown from ramparts and much pillaging.They loved it!
After exiting via the gift shop we retrieved the laundry then headed for the train to Giverney.Stopped for lunch in a fab little cafe with very decent coffee then on to the very smart double decker train to Vernon. The station was linked to the Gardens and the village of Giverney by shuttle bus . The Village is basically one bijou street containing as many cafes and art and antique emporia as possible. All designed to ensure that the visitors part with as many euros as possible...We did our bit for the local economy with a stop in a pretty garden cafe.We just had to make the most of the fact it wasn't raining.
We had no idea what to expect from the house and studio and were therefore really pleasantly surprised to find a simple and elegant home. The use of colour in all the different rooms gave each one it's own character and ambiance and I would move in very happily. I particularly liked the blue and white tiled kitchen adorned with gleaming copper pots. No need for mirrors on the ground floor.
The studio space was very enviable and contained some atmospheric family photos including some of the great man at work.
We had to drag ourselves away to catch our bus and train. Perhaps in an effort to leave non french visitors stranded the bus was 10 minutes early but we had been warned by a friendly driver of a bus going in the opposite direction. Due to the earliness we had a wee bit of hanging about to do at Vernon which at best could be described as uninspiring. The intended destination for tomorrow was Conches en Ouche via train then a cycle to Montagne sur Perche. There was no direct route to Conches by train but tleast the wait meant I could have a lengthy discussion with a very patient ticket lady about a route which would only involve 1 train change and would not take a year and a day. PHEW.
A more leisurely turn around before supper was very welcome. On the way back to base I had been seduced by the Monoprix and decided that as I had had enough of my one and only non cycling outfit I would splash out on a cheap and cheerful alternative. So scrubbed up and sporting new togs we headed to the Vieux Marche. This was supposed to be the hub of the nightlife of Rouen but I guess on a rainy Monday night before the start of the holiday season we were pushing our luck. We did find a lovely restaurant which provided me with a cauldron full of moules so I was cetainly not complaining.
We headed back with the happy prospect of another good sleep tempered by the marginally worrying prospect of negotiating a complex rail journey with our bikes and luggage. But given what we had accomplished so far we figured we could cope!