Saturday, September 25

Revenir à Rennes

Hydrangeas at the market
Photo exhibit in front of l'Opera
I arrived by train to Rennes on Friday, and my host mom met me at the station to take me home. It was so nice to see a familiar face. She dropped me off and went back to work and I got myself organized before my host sister, Lucile,

her older brother, José, and his two kids, Paolo (8) and Thomas (3) came over. I played with the boys for a while, you know legos, marbles, trucks, Shrek - my jams. We all sat down to dinner when my host mom got home and I helped clean up and get the boys organized before they left. My host mom, José, and the boys went to their summer house for the weekend, in Pornic, while Lucile and I stayed here. I slept in, Lucile and I had brunch, then I decided to venture into the city. It is very cold here suddenly so I bundled and stepped out with my iPod. It was really nice to be back in the city. Everyone was out and about, and I watched them close down the market. I walked everywhere, including finding an outdoor photography exhibit which has some hilarious photographs. Tonight I'm making Lucile and I some chicken before I go out and meet some kids from my program. I have a lot to do this week so I'm planning on just lying low this weekend and practicing French, in preparation for setting up a bank account and meeting the heads of my department ... yikes. It is so weird to be here without my friends who I met when we all lived here, but I know I will meet more people as the program seems to be pretty big.

Paris: one of the oldest cities in the world, never gets old.

Place Saint Sulpice
Due to a liberal arts, post-grad mentality of putting off finding a real job, I applied to a teaching assistant program through the French government that has landed me back in France! I'm so lucky and excited to return and get started. Even more exciting, I'm going to be back living in RENNES! I'm teaching at a lycée (French high school), and I will be the English teaching assistant. I will be living in student housing on one of the university campuses in my own apartment, but surrounded by other French and international students my age. Before my teaching program starts, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Paris. I am now at the house I stayed at when I studied abroad, and I am staying with my family until I can move in on October 1st. It is so nice to have my own space and be comfortable - it feels very much like home. I got back to Rennes yesterday after four wonderful days in Paris ...

Lindsay and Julia at Place de Saint Sulplice
I got to Paris early, early, Tuesday morning and after the longest taxi ride (thank you Paris rush hour) I arrived at my hostel - Oops! Hostel in the 13th arrondissement. I met my friend Julia (from Camp Huckins) and my friend Lindsay (who studied abroad in Rennes with me) at the hostel. Julia and I waited for Lindsay's arrival by getting coffee and un croissant amande and sitting in a children's playground. By the time Lindsay got to Paris it was around noon, and despite Lindsay and I being completely exhausted, we decided to go for a walk. We went all the way to Saint Sulpice, stopped for macaroons at Pierre Hermé (we tried olive oil and vanilla?! incredible) , and sat in the place surrounding the famous church. I sat in the sun while Lindsay napped and Jules did some writing. Lindsay and I wandered back around 4 to nap and shower before dinner, while Julia explored. For dinner we settled for Italian pizza close to the hostel (and a carafe of red wine, bien sûr), while afterwords we ventured to the Latin Quarter and sat outside at a wine bar on Rue de Moufftard - which was very busy with lots of young people. Back to the hostel by midnight for some much needed sleep ...

Boardwalk along the Seine
Wednesday morning we slept in, and got coffee at Place d'Italie while people watching before Julia left around 12:30. Lindsay and I decided make the most of our free time, and run some errands. We walked to Gare d'Austerlitz where we bought train tickets to our respective cities (Linds is teaching in Toulouse). We were scheduled to leave on Thursday, but of course there was a strike, so we decided to leave somewhat early Friday morning. We had an absolutely lovely picnic in Jardin des Plantes with bread, tomatoes, cheese, wine, and salmon. After lunch we walked along the Seine and ended up finding a beautiful walkway on the left bank, accessible by ramp. We walked along the
river all the way to Notre Dame. We grabbed a bus back to the hostel and showered and cleaned up before returning to the Latin Quarter for dinner. Honestly, one of the best dinner's I've ever had. We had discovered L'Ecurie with Julia the night before, and decided to try it for dinner. It is tucked away by the Pantheon at the end of Rue de Moufftard. We waited for about 15 minutes for a table (they brought us homemade Sangria while we waited) and had a lovely table outside. The menu said the restaurant had been around since about 1684 - it was amazing, and according to Lindsay, the bathroom is proof that it has been around forever. I asked the table next to us a few questions about the menu and they were nice enough to recommend several things. I settled for a formule (app. + entrée + dessert) so we could split the salad and crème caramel, and I got lamb, while little miss vegetarian got the shrimp. We were also given a free digestif. It was I would absolutely go again. The wait staff was more than friendly, and the food was delicious.

Thursday - my third and final day. Up early for the hostel's free breakfast, then off to figure out phone details. Success! We grabbed a bus to the Bastille, where Lindsay was hoping to exchange some travelers checks, but didn't get very far because of the strike. Sidenote: the strike was because the French government wants to change the retirement age to 62 ... it is currently 60. Anyways, we walked to the Bastille only to discover the march was starting there. Literally, like a circus. Music, balloons, megaphones, face paint, and tons of street food - it was a carnival. We got overwhelmed and headed to our destination: La Conciergerie, a former prison where Marie Antoinnette was held during the revolution, one of the tourist spots I have always wanted to visit. We stopped at Place des Vosges (where Victor Hugo lived and definitely one of my all time favorite places in Paris) and in the Marais for a quick sandwich. We got to the prison and it started to rain - at the same time we looked up and saw a huge sign "FERMETURE POUR GRÈVE" - translation "Closed due to the strike". Of course. We headed back to the Marais, for a cup of coffee, some vintage shopping, and people watching. Again, success. It was close to 5:30 pm, and the buses still weren't running so we walked all the way back to the hostel - which in retrospect was a lot easier then we anticipated and I walked through a part of Paris I didn't even know existed. We bought a bottle of wine on our way back and chilled for a bit packing up and showering before dinner. Lindsay was craving pasta so we walked down to Rue Saint Marcel where we there was a place recommended to us called Pizza César. Yet again, jackpot. It was delicious, and truly Italian. Lindsay had incredible, incredible pesto, and I opted for eggplant pizza. We made friends with the Frenchman next to us who was from Toulouse and was giving us the low-down on everything about the city. I think Lindsay was relieved to hear such wonderful things about it. We went back to the hostel where we went to bed pretty early as we were both leaving in the morning.

Striking at the Bastille
Place des Vosges

I have to say it was a wonderful trip and I had such an incredible time in only 3 days. I think it is because Lindsay and I travel so well together, and because I have been so so many times, I'm able to enjoy the different neighborhoods and I'm not stressed to run and see all the attractions. I also have to say that the Parisians couldn't have been nicer. Everyone was so patient with my French and more then willing to help in every capacity - so in sum, some people say people in Paris aren't nice, but I say, don't believe everything you hear ...

See my next post for everything about Rennes!