Giverny and Rouen | Visiting Monet’s garden and eating my way through Normandy

monet-garden

So this is a belated post. I am currently back in Texas. However, at the end of my trip I caught a bad cold, so I decided to push back blog posts until I got better.

Which brings us to now! Yay. Ok, so with that being said, the next two posts will be France-themed. Like I mentioned on my last post, I travelled around Paris and some northern French cities last week with a college friend. This post will be dedicated to the time spent in Giverny and Rouen, France. Both cities are north of Paris, and are easily accessible by train (Giverny was about 30 minutes away and Rouen 45).

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The main reason we decided to get out of Paris was because we (my friend Sasha and I) wanted to see some of the smaller cities and get a more authentic French feel out of our vacation. While Paris is beautiful, all of the architecture is the same due to Napoleon’s order to have the entire city rebuilt in the 1800s. Because of this, the city can feel monotonous if you have been there before. I really wanted to see some of the countryside and some medieval architecture. Which brought us to Normandy.

Monet lived in Giverny and used his house and garden for a good amount of his subject matter, the waterlily series being one example. When we found out how close Monet’s garden was to Paris, our side trip was decided then and there.

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I figure my photos of the garden are pretty self explanatory – they were gorgeous to say the least. However I also had a bit of a food nerd moment while I was touring Monet’s house. You guys can probably tell that I am an avid cook. So when I saw this gorgeous kitchen, I had to photograph it. Aside from the kitchen, his house was beautiful. There was an entire room dedicated to displaying his paintings.

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We stayed in a neighboring town called Vernon and slept in an adorable Airbnb there. We had what I assume was a renovated carriage house or storage house. We also had shared use of the owner’s garden. Pictured above is her cat (named Truffe).

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I took advantage of the host’s patio table. Sasha and I were pretty exhausted after walking around Giverny, so we spent the afternoon in the garden playing with Truffe, sipping tea, and eating pastries. The next morning we departed for Rouen.

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The photo on the left is one of the few I had of Rouen’s old architecture. The city’s “old” district is full of timbered buildings and hidden churches. There was also a surprising amount of street art – one example can be found on my Instagram. The photo on the right was actually taken in Giverny – there is an awesome garden restaurant next to the Giverny Foundation. It ran like a cafeteria of sorts, you pick up little wooden or paper trays of food and then find a seat outside where you can eat amongst the flowers.

Photographed is a mussel, leek, and fish bake; a beer brewed in Normandy (the cleanest tasting beer I have ever had – it’s made by La Richard Coeur de Lion if you ever come across it); and a rhubarb tart. I will soon be experimenting with a recipe for a similar leek/fish bake as that was one of the best meals I had while on vacation, anticipate the post for it.

Well that’s it for this post! The next one will focus on our travels specific to Paris and Versailles.

I’m back in Paris!

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So for those of you that are new to the blog, I’ll first start off by saying that I studied abroad a year ago. For four months, I lived, studied, and interned in Paris. I came back home to the States knowing that I would come back one day.

However I did not think this day would come so quickly. I am traveling from a college friend and for the next couple posts, I will show you guys what we have seen and eaten around Paris. (Also, just because I cannot bring my camera everywhere with me, you can also follow me on Instagram (@audperki) where I will keep my account frequently updated as I travel.)

We plan on traveling for a little over a week, and we will also hit up Monet’s garden in Giverny, and Rouen. This trip has been planned for months and I am so excited to show you guys our adventures. So far, we haven’t done much as we decided to not push too many sights in too little time. However, I have assembled some photos as a teaser to show you guys what is to come.

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*Shout out to my host family who not only let us stay with them, but also gave us breakfast on the patio this morning. It was such a sight to wake up to. On the left is chestnut paste, some crackers to eat with tea (at least I do), a baguette, and a sampler of plain and chocolate croissants.

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A close up of the croissants because why not.

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The Luxembourg gardens.

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Lastly, a haul of groceries we picked up at the market street where I used to go to school. On the left is fig bread – which I was told was sweet and salty, canelés – which are rum custard cakes, some fruit and vegetables and a roll of goat cheese.

 

Cherry clafoutis

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The first time I ate clafoutis was at a birthday party my host family held. As you guys may have read in my About page, I lived in Paris with a  Franco-Italian host family this last Spring semester of college. As awkward as it was with the language barrier, the family always invited me to their family gatherings.

My host aunt brought over two desserts, an apple and prune clafoutis. Both of which were shoveled onto my plate at dessert with a stern look from my host uncle. He said, “You must try both of them, my wife made them and they are delicious.” I, with a completely full stomach, accepted with a hesitant smile. He then made an “I’m watching you,” gesture with two of his fingers and then gestured to the two plates of cake. I all but licked my plate clean under his watchful eye and received an “I told you so.”

Regardless of how full I was, I loved those desserts. Mostly because of how simple they were. My host aunt explained the steps to me, it was pretty easy. A clafoutis is basically a custard poured over fruit, then baked. In the oven it will rise, looking almost like a cloud. Once cooled it sinks back down to create a dense cake. Cherries in this case make the dessert pretty striking and the acidity helps cut through the sweetness of this dessert.

*Fun fact for the day, the clafoutis cake (pronounced like clah-foo-tee) originates from the Limousin region of France. Looking back on my time there, I knew my host mother’s family originated from a southwestern area close to that region. Though I never found out what actual city where she was from, I wonder if she came from the region of the clafoutis.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup pitted, halved cherries

 

sugar

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, salt and zest.

 

eggs

Add the eggs. Stir.

 

milk

Then add in the milk and extract.

 

fill 1/3

Pour enough mixture to fill a greased dish 1/3 of the way. Bake at 350 °F just long enough to create a skin at the surface stable enough to support the cherries. This can take about 5 minutes depending on your baking dish.

 

cherries

Pull out the dish and add the cherries. Sprinkle with a little additional sugar. For those watching their sugar, you can either adjust or omit this step.

 

fill

Pour the remaining batter on top and return to the oven for another 40 minutes. The clafoutis is done when it is puffed, like a cloud, and golden brown. A toothpick when inserted should come out clean.

 

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Let cool just enough for the cake to sink back down. While this dish is good cold, it is best warm with a bit of ice cream like shown above in my mini version made with leftover ingredients.