Four weekends of the Paris program are dedicated to excursions, where the group leaves the city and heads somewhere new to learn about the culture and history of the country and region.
This past weekend, the Temple group packed itself into a coach bus to head out to two amazing sites outside of Paris: Rouen and Giverny. I had heard of Giverny before this excursion, being the art nerd that I am, and was extremely excited to hear that we would get to visit the house and garden (and water lilies!) of Claude Monet, the impressionist painter; but had never known anything about Rouen until looking it up the day before leaving. My excitement to visit increased ten-fold when I learned that not only is it home to the cathedral that Monet famously painted over and over to study the light and atmosphere, but also the location of Joan of Arc’s trial and consequent death.
Monet’s garden and home were everything that I had dreamed of and more. They are so peaceful and stunning, despite the crowds that you’ll find there on a beautiful day. Monet’s infatuation with painting the scene made sense to me once I saw the way the light and color played off the water, the intense colors of the flowers, and the lushness of the greenery.
Rouen also surpassed my expectations, with its dazzlingly ornate cathedral and its sweet, tiny streets. We went to a museum dedicated to Joan of Arc and watched a multimedia exposition on her life and the debate surrounding her death. I had no idea how controversial she was and nor how tough she was (she was shot in battle twice!).
Overall, the excursion was absolutely eye- and mind-opening and definitely has me looking forward to our next!