Early on the morning of 5th July, armed with one of Mariethe's delicious picnics, we left Paris for the village of Gerberoy in Picardy.

As we drove further into the beautiful French countryside and closer to our destination, we suddenly realised that we were on the route for the Tour de France. People were already lining the roads and there was a lovely festive atmosphere; and I might add the sun was shining.

When we arrived at Gerberoy, it was immediately apparent that we were in a very beautiful and special place......and because of the Tour de France, we were the only people there until mid afternoon! This was indeed good luck.

We parked the car at the edge of the village by this avenue of beautiful trees. From the moment the engine was turned off, it was as if we had entered a different world. All my senses were delighted with the scent of roses and other blossoms, along with the most beautiful birdsong. The air was crisp and clean and other than the birdsong, there were no man made noises.

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There are places where photographs simply cannot do justice....and this was one. We meandered through the village to our first stop, the beautiful garden which had been designed by the post impressionist Henri Le Sidaner - I have to confess, an artist I had not know of before.

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In 1901, the artist took what was then the ruins of the ancient chateau fort, and designed the most beautiful gardens. Set on terraces, the gardens lead you up to 'le temple de l'amour' (the temple of love) a replica of a temple at Versailles. From this enchanting place, the views are stunning.

Looking up at Le Temple de l'amour.

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From this high vantage point, I was able to look down at the house and garden of Henri Le Sidaner. Meanwhile, the birdsong was exquisite, the sun kept peeking through and all my senses were fed with the most beautiful sensations.

The house and garden of Henri le Sidaner.

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As the garden was only open until 12.30, we decided to use our last hour to sketch.
I climbed further up where I could see over the roof tops of Gerberoy, and the beautiful French countryside.

My sketch book is on the wall in the foreground. When I do these rapid sketches, my goal is to capture the atmosphere and a moment in time.

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The sketch.

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As we left the garden, we met the lady who is now responsible for its upkeep. I told her that I felt as if I had 'died and gone to heaven', and she understood:)

What the garden said to me, is that when we take care of nature, nature takes care of us. Although, I believe that we have tipped over the edge, we can still learn so much from a place like this.

After the garden, a delicious picnic, and then a meander around the village. This was one of the spots I picked to sketch

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and then, mid afternoon, after the Tour de France had passed, people began to enter the village, and although still a magical place, I realised just how fortunate we were to be able to experience this place on our own.

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For a short period, it was like walking through a magical door, into the world as it should and could be.

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Then, home and a wonderful dinner.

A Bientôt