Our Time in La Roche-Guyon and Vernon/Giverny

Return to International Travel – Introduction
Review: SWISS A340-300 ORD-ZRH and Marhaba Lounge ZRH
Lodging Review: Sina Villa Medici, Florence, Italy
Our Time In Florence, Part 1
Our Time In Florence, Part 2
Lodging Review: Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris, France
Our Time In Paris, Part 1 (Louvre, Sainte-Chappelle, Arc, Eiffel Tower)
Our Time In Paris, Part 2 (Versailles)
Our Time In Paris, Part 3 (Catacombs, Musee d’Orsay)
Viking Kari and an Afternoon in Montmartre
Our Time in La Roche-Guyon and Vernon/Giverny
Our Time on the Normandy Beaches
Our Time in Les Andelys and Le Pecq
Lodging Review: Renaissance Republique, Paris, France
Review: Air France A350 CDG-ORD

La Roche-Guyon

When we awoke after our second night on the boat, we were docked near the small town of La Roche-Guyon, named for the 12th-century chateau that sits near the river. The town is quite small, with only about 500 inhabitants.

The castle was built to control the Seine river crossing and traffic going between Paris and Normandy on the river. “La Roche” means “The Rock” in English and it’s easy to see how it got its name. The castle is hollowed out of a cliff and the keep rises at the top of the hill. The fortified manor, the chateau, was added in the 13th century.

The Chateau, Keep and Gardens

In World War II the chateau was headquarters for Erwin Rommel and it is where he led the defense of Normandy after D-Day.

We approached the chateau on foot through the gardens.

The moat is long-since gone and the wing on the left was once the stables. We walked up the path on the right which led to the main entrance on the second level.

La Roche-Guyon Chateau and Stables

The chateau had its own chapel.

La Roche-Guyon Chapel

And the ballroom was fairly ornate for a non-royal residence.

La Roche-Guyon Ballroom

La Roche-Guyon Ballroom

Below ground were chambers that were more crude but heavily fortified.

La Roche-Guyon Underground Chambers

The dovecote was fascinating and though no birds were there while we were present, it was clear they came and visited often.

La Roche-Guyon Dovecote

From the 3rd floor balcony it was easy to see how strategic this location is for controlling traffic on and over the river.

La Roche-Guyon View of the Seine and Town

Though we didn’t get to explore it, the little town – or commune, as it’s called – was cute.

The commune of La Roche-Guyon

After our visit, it was time for lunch and as we ate, the boat cruised to our next port of call.


During our evening briefing the prior night, our cruise director joked that we’d be visiting the hometown of Roy Orbison the next day. While we were scratching our heads over that one she revealed that while he’d been born in Vernon, it was Vernon, Texas and not Vernon (pronounced like “Vere-NO”), France. In some ways that’s too bad. I love me some Lefty Wilbury!

My roommate and I opted for the Monet’s Garden by Bicycle excursion. It’s only about 3 miles each way and relatively flat. The downside was that it was raining that day and because it was not a downpour, the biking excursion went forward as planned. This later became an issue for me.

The reason we docked in Vernon is that it is very close to Giverny, where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. It is here that he painted the water lilies and the Japanese bridge which populate some of his most famous paintings.

On the way to Monet’s home we stopped at the church of Sainte-Radegonde. We noticed this unusual grave marker which is for seven WW II Royal Air Force servicemen whose plane crashed nearby on June 7-8, 1944, just a day after D-Day.

RAF World War II Memorial

Nearby is the Monet family grave, final resting place of Claude and many of his relatives.

Monet Family Grave

We were able to step inside the church for a few moments. It’s not large but it dates to the 12th century so it was definitely worth a look.

Inside Sainte-Radegonde church

We then pedaled the rest of the way to Monet’s home and gardens. If you’ve seen the paintings from his “Water Lilies” era, you’ll recognize the environs. If this wasn’t the same boat used in his painting “The Row Boat” from 1887, it’s certainly very similar. Unfortunately I was never able to capture a photo of the Japanese bridge without people on it.

The gardens were still quite lush, even in October, with well-defined walk-ways throughout.

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When we reached the house, we were able to walk through it and, as there was no air conditioning, the doors and windows were wide open in places. We were a bit concerned when we got to the studio that there were so many paintings and no temperature or humidity control but we soon had it confirmed that these are all copies.

Monet Family Photos

On the ride back to the boat we stopped near the Île du Talus, or what remains of it. This was the bridge leading to the island where a hospital once was. This was likely the bridgemaster’s quarters.

Isle of Talus Bridgekeeper’s Lodging

As we approached the boat on our bikes, the paved path we were on took a hairpin turn. Even though I was going slowly, I got off the path on to the wet grass, which was sloped. My bike slid out from under me and in an effort to prevent falling (mistake, I should have just gone with the fall) I ended up injuring my knee. We docked in Rouen the next day but I skipped the tour to rest my knee. My roommate was able to buy a crutch at the local pharmacy and after her tour we went back there to get a knee brace. That helped but I limped for the rest of the vacation and ended up having to stay off my leg for six weeks upon my return. At least I didn’t need surgery!

In the end

La Roche-Guyon was interesting and I’m glad we paid for the excursion because otherwise we would have gone through it quite quickly. The bike ride to Giverny would have been fine had it not been raining. While I likely won’t do a bike excursion again, I certainly won’t do one in the rain.

Categories: Attraction Review, Cruises, Europe, France, Tours, Trip Report, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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