As we dithered about seating, I was startled by a voice behind me questioning 'Ian?' I turned round to find a lady called Julie who I had worked with for a number of years on Nottingham in Bloom. Life is full of coincidences! Julie was also visiting Monet's garden.
Lunch at the Baudy Inn was great - French onion soup with crusty bread followed by a rich chocolate brownie and strong coffee. After lunch I went in search of the men's room and discovered a wonderful romantic but semi-derelict garden at the back of the inn - a perfect painter's paradise! Tucked into the hillside was a small building that I found was equipped as an artists studio, looking as if the artist had just popped out for another tube of paint but 50 years ago! A curious time capsule. From around the 1880's until WW1, a number of impressionist artists settled in this area, drawn by the presence of Monet, the landscape and the atmosphere. Apparently the Baudy Inn was very much the centre of artistic life in those days.
The village is picture postcard charming with little stone cottages and pretty rural gardens - very photogenic! At the end of the village is an old church with Monet's grave (not very photogenic). Inevitably there is a level of commercialism with numerous small galleries selling a variety of questionable art. There is also an impressionist museum with a well designed modern garden divided into colour compartments and a mechanical museum full of huge industrial equipment. Altogether a very pleasant day out and we were back in Paris in time for dinner!