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EASIEST WAY TO VERNON: TAKE THE TRAIN

A dozen trains a day leave Gare Saint-Lazare for Rouen. A potential problem, especially for people who don't happen to have a train schedule: Not all trains to Rouen stop at Vernon.

I arrived at the station early Saturday morning. Before boarding I asked a conductor if the train I was about to get on stopped at Vernon. He said no. He took me to the departure board and pointed to the 2 o'clock listing. That train, he said, stopped at Vernon.I had a good part of the day to kill. Fortunately Gare Saint-Lazare is near good shopping. I stepped into one boutique after another with an eye toward the unusual and inexpensive. I also ate - a toasted ham and cheese sandwich called a Croque Monsieur, washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice.

I returned to the station at 2 and again checked with a conductor. He said the train I was about to board did indeed stop in Vernon. He also told me what time the trains leave Vernon for Paris.

The scenery kept my attention, which is why I forgot to write down how long it took to get to Vernon. I'm guessing it was less than an hour.

The concierge at the Meridien Hotel Montparnasse where I was staying had told me a bus made regular trips from the train station at Vernon to Giverny. I didn't wait to find out. I took a taxi. If you don't speak French, simply say "Musee Claude Monet, s'il vous plait," or "Giverny, s'il vous plait." Be sure to use a soft J, as in Zsa Zsa. Pronounce the ver as you would say very.

Giverny is only a few miles from Vernon. The taxi fare is minimal.

The museum is open daily except Mondays April 1 to Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

For information about travel in France write the French Government Tourist Office, 9454 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 303, Beverly Hills, CA, 90212, or call 1-900-420-2003, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time. The call costs 50 cents minute. - Kathryn Clayton.