Three Days in Rennes
It was like a strange movie. I walked on the train and it was entirely empty. Kacy, the young lady I traveled with, and I were the only ones in the car. Was this the right train? Yes, it was the right train. We arrived in Rennes about an hour later.
When I stepped off the train, a snowflake stuck to my nose. Then another and another. It was snowing and it was cold. After figuring out the bus system, I arrived at my first hostel. At the desk, the woman told us we couldn’t check in yet but we could leave our bags in the baggage room. I asked what time we would be able to check in and I thought I didn’t understand her.
“Pardon?” I asked. “What time?”
“17h30,” she replied.
17:30. That’s…5:30. In the afternoon. What? “17h30?” I repeated.
“17h30,” she confirmed.
It was cold outside and most of our activities were outside activities. And it was snowing. So, we left the hostel and found a movie theatre. After several months of trying to watch it, I finally got to see Les Mis (it wasn’t playing in Northern Maine or Canada before I left for France, so I’ve waited a long time to see it)! So, how did they adapt an American musical for a French audience?
Well, they kept the entire audio version in English. They had subtitles in French. I read the subtitles in French and some of the translations were quite strange, but they embodied the same concept. I enjoyed the movie and it was definitely worth the wait. I’ve read the abridged version of Les Mis in English, saw the old movie and sang some of the songs in my high school chorus. It’s a wonderful story and I’d love to read the original version in French one day. However, I’ll need to wait a bit before tackling Hugo’s vocabulary!
After the movie, I checked my watch and discovered that it wasn’t time to go back to the hostel, so I grabbed some dinner instead. Kacy is gluten free, which made finding food difficult in France considering their diet consists of a large amount of gluten. But, we knew she could eat some things at McDonald’s so…I ate dinner at my first McDonald’s in France! Yay for being a stereotypical American!
The second day in Rennes, I started out trying to find a metro stop but ended up walking to St. Anne, which was a church we were going to visit later in the day. We decided to keep walking and what do you know? Rennes is a small city. The map looked huge, but we literally walked off the map. We walked the entire map and beyond in one day. We saw the parliament, the opera, and an amazing park (which had frozen fountains – it was cold)!
After a long day, we tried to go back to the hostel, but got a little lost and ended up back at the park! Rennes is so small that we just kept walking and walking and walking. Since we were at the park, we got a chance to visit a church that we hadn’t seen before, Notre Dame, it was our first Notre Dame and we saw a Notre Dame in every city! After we found the hostel, guess what? It was literally closed from 12-5:30! You couldn’t get in because it was the weekend. And, during the week day, you can’t get into your room from 10 AM- 3 PM! Weird hours for a hostel, but it was a great place. It was clean and the staff was super friendly. And breakfast was included. So what did we do with our extra time? Ate dinner. Where? McDonald’s. Don’t judge, it’s really hard to find quick food in France.
Our last day in Rennes was my favorite day. We went to Mont St. Michel, which is the whole reason we were staying in Rennes. Mont St. Michel is about an hour by bus from Rennes. At Mont St. Michel, they were doing construction because they are planning to destroy the land bridge which connects the island to the mainland. Why? Well, apparently the land bridge has messed with the ecosystem and the tides in Mont St. Michel. The new bridge will allow for a natural tide to return to the island. We went when it was low tide, but we didn’t walk in the bay because the tide comes up fast and we didn’t want to die.
The shops in the narrow Mont St. Michel reminded me of Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. At the top of the island was the abbey. To get into the abbey, you have to pay a fee, but I didn’t. Why didn’t I? Well, here’s the cool thing. I’m a student at a French university. I show my student ID and I am granted free access to most museums. In fact, I think I only paid for one museum, maybe two. Also, I get lots of reductions. It’s great.
The abbey was huge. We started in one room and we went up and down and all around!
After we went to the abbey, I wanted a photo of Mont St. Michel, but without all of the construction. We walked on the land bridge to get a good shot, but we kept walking all the way to the mainland. There was a dam and we could actually stand on the dam and get a good picture. The mainland was pretty empty, mostly just gift shops for Mont St. Michel. We returned to the island and continued to walk about a bit until our bus came to take us back to Rennes.
So, that was the start of my vacation. And what a start it was! The next day, I woke up and got on the train to Paris, the train I’d been waiting to take my whole French education…