So, I'm pretty well at the end of my séjour in France. I'll be back in Calgary 3 weeks from today & I actually leave Lyon in one week. I'll be heading up to Munich for a few days, then on to Prague & back down to Strasbourg before heading back to Lyon to pick up my bags & taking the train up to Paris for a final day before the long flight home. This also means that I'm on to my final 4 shifts at Starbucks. No more free coffee for me...I'll have to figure out a new plan to support my caffeine addiction, I suppose.
Anyways, I've been enjoying a really nice spring over here. All the terraces are back out & there's nothing better than a drink on a terrace after a busy day at work. The grass is green, trees & flowers are in bloom & I've even got a bit of a tan. In fact, my friend Jamie (who's father is black) was mad the other day because I'm just as "tanned" as she is. I don't really know how this has happened, but I'm not going to complain. Perma-tan is cool with me.
The majority of my international friends in Lyon took off travelling for spring break at the beginning of April, so I had a pretty chill week. Jamie stuck around a little bit longer so we spend a lot of time together. I never would have thought that shopping could involve so much walking, but we hit the market, rue de la ré (in the center), croix rousse (my neighbourhood up the giant hill) & Part Dieu shopping mall in one day. Did I mention that neither of us have cars or bus passes this month, so we went all over on food. & if that wasn't enough, we headed over to Rachel's that night to make pizza, popcorn & watch Bridget Jones' Diary. It was a pretty good day, shopping-wise as well as food (bagels at City Bagels in town!! yum!) & company-wise. We also managed to enjoy a beer on a terrace & relaxed in the park for a while. Ah yes, life is tough for me. The following night, I headed over to Rachel's again to watch Remember the Titans. Classic.
They both took off for Rome the next day though, so I had a pretty lowkey weekend at home. I'd bought a train ticket to Rennes that week & hopped on a train early Monday morning last week to head over to one of my favourite cities in France. I'd been expecting somewhat dreary, cold weather in Rennes, but I arrived to find cloudless blue skies. I found my way to the Youth Hostel & set out for the day, grabbing a picnic lunch on my way to Parc du Thabor. The park there is absolutely beautiful. There are so many beautiful flowers & trees & the grass is so green (it rains a lot, so that's really no surprise). I spent a good chunk of the afternoon there enjoying the sun & relaxing. I finally decided it was time to leave & got ambushed by some guy as I was leaving the park. He was fairly nice & incredibly chatty, but I really wasn't interested. Problem is, I really don't know how to tell people I'm not so interested in French without being incredibly rude. & he wasn't being incredibly bothersome, I just wasn't interested in having a drink or dinner with him. I do however, now have a place to stay in Paris, should I ever need. (haha, ya right) Anyhow, he accompanied me to the Tourist Office & then down to the metro & waited for me to buy myself a ticket even (I'd lied & told him I was going up to Villejean to meet friends) before taking off. I saved my ticket for Thursday morning, when I'd be leaving Rennes & went for Ice cream at Quick instead of meeting my imaginary friends in Villejean.
I spent the rest of the evening wandering around Rennes. The city is really quite small so around every corner I found something familiar. I couldn't go anywhere without being hit with some memory from when I lived there. The city was virtually unchanged which was a bit of a surprise. It was nice though, however unexpected. I have such fond memories of Rennes, so it was wonderful to just wander around. It's hard to explain, but that city will always be something special to me.
Hanging out in Parc du Thabor
green grass, sunny day, perfect picnic in the park
les portes mordelaises: original gates into Rennes
For dinner that evening, I indulged in some typical Breton food- a galette complète at one of the many crêperies in town. Galettes are savoury crêpes that you can find all over Brittany. They're made with blé noire (dark flour, black flour??) & are one of my favourite things about Brittany. A galette complète has jambon, oeuf, fromage (ham, egg, cheese) on it. There are tons of other combinations however.
galette complète: jambon, oeuf, fromage
The following day, my good luck with the weather ended. It was rainy & cloudy as I set out for the day after breakfast. I decided to head up to Villejean. It's not really your typical tourist attraction in Rennes. In fact, it's not really a nice neighbourhood at all. It's where the Université de Rennes 2 (aka where I went to school) is. It's also where my rez was, so I know the neighbourhood pretty well. The school was completely unchanged, apart from perhaps some new paint to mark the building letters & more graffiti. It's not the prettiest school around. Rez looked exactly the same as well, aside from renovations on the inside. (Excuse me?! Toilets IN the rooms?! not fair!!) Seeing as it's easter break right now, everything was pretty deserted & it was a little bit eerie. Not quite as bad as when the entire school was on strike though.
I wandered back to the center afterwards & did some shopping. For such a small city, Rennes really does have incredibly good shopping. Furthermore, people actually wear colours other than black & grey or some shade between the two. It was incredibly refreshing to see people in hoodies & colours! That night I went to my favourite moulerie/crêperis: L'Abri du Marché. It is so cozy & cute & looks right out onto Place des Lices. I had Moules du Nord, which were muscles with crème fraiche, smoked salmon & leek. It came with homemade french fries & a dipping sauce. I also got a nice glass of white wine & enjoyed the meal. I'd been looking forward to Breton food the entire time I've been in France. Actually, I've been looking forward to it, since I left in 2006. Yes, it's that good! I decided to splurge & get dessert as well. I had a dessert crêpe called La Houat which was pear, raspberry coulis & whip cream. Basically: amazing!
the most delicious moules et frites! Brittany <3 span="">3>
The following day got even better weather-wise. By the time I arrived to the centreville, I was completely soaked. I had also learned that my rain jacket is, in fact, not waterproof. Sweet. I tried to spend most of my time inside. Wandering around the exhibition at the tourist office, the mall & little shops along Rue du Bastard. Finally I decided it was time for some lunch & headed to another crêperie, this one on Rue St Georges. I enjoyed a galette chevre miel (goat cheese & honey) & a crêpe caramel buerre salé. Caramel & butter in Brittany are both salty, which I love. I'm much more a savoury person, so I really enjoy the buerre salé. & yes, part of the reason I came back to Rennes was for the food. Food is France is delicious, but I especially love the food from Brittany. (we all know my stomach is in charge of most of my decisions...)
In the afternoon, I headed back to the hostel & took a siesta before making dinner. In the kitchen at the hostel, I met a few guys on exchange in Brest. (ya, I know....sucks to be them...). There were 2 spaniards & a belgian. They shared some beer & brownies with me & we decided to head out for drinks all together. We headed to Kenland first where there happened to be a football game on there. We had a drink there & then they took pity on me & decided to change venues. We headed to Le P'tit Velo, which used to be one of my favourite bars in Rennes. I think they were going renovations though because it wasn't as large as I remember it being. It was still a nice evening on a terrace in Place St Michel. We headed back to the hostel pretty early so I could pack for the following morning. It was time to go home & back to work, sadly.
Everyone was back in Lyon when I got back & we all met up at Kate's on Friday night for a drink & some Starbucks cookies & cake. Then Kate & I headed out to Vieux Lyon to meet up with Anne. I hadn't hung out with her in ages so it was nice to see her despite the bar being incredibly crowded. There was also a really great band playing covers of Coldplay & the like. It was a good night. I worked the rest of the weekend & then Sunday night headed over to Kate's to make poutine. Turns out she's never had it before! It wasn't as good as when Alyssa & I made it because she didn't have compté, but it was still quite good. We hadn't had a sleepover in ages so we did that as well. How grade 7 of us. ;) haha.
The next morning I headed out on my velo'v to work. I had picked up a shift to help Nadya out while everyone was doing this training stuff at the other store. I got off at 1 & met my friend Johan that I worked with at Republique (he was my tutor). He wanted to take me for a drink because he headed off to Alsace to see his family & wouldn't be around to say goodbye. We were both starving though so we ended up at Ninkasi. It's this little chain in Lyon that has great beer & burgers & fries. It's so good! We chatted & hung out there for a few hours & then headed back to Starbucks to say hi to some of the others & ended up hanging out for a good chunk of the afternoon with my store manager, shift supervisors & DM.
Yesterday, I randomly found out it was Free Ben & Jerry's day! Jamie, Kate & I met in Vieux Lyon & had our fill of free Ben & Jerry's. It was delicious. They even let people have refills! We were pretty stoked about the random find...especially since the weather was so good.
Free Ben & Jerry's day!
So, that's about it...I'm now in procrastination mode. I should really start getting organized & packed, but we all know that's not going to happen before the weekend. I have to move all my stuff to my friend, Rachel's, by Tuesday & knowing me, I won't start packing until Monday. Smart idea considering how much stuff I've accumulated. Oh no...
Anyways, I've bored you long enough with my random adventures. I'm sure to have even more exciting stories as I head off for a couple weeks of last minute travel. I'm already dreaming of all the delicious food I'm going to enjoy....& the beer!. Yup, I've picked 3 cities that are very proud manufacturers of beer. Now I just need to plan a trip to Belgium & I'm all set on that front!