Monday, April 11


My classes end in two weeks, the weather has been 75 + and sunny and I went on a boat ride on the ocean on Saturday ... is it summer? Of course today is cloudy and cold, but for the past two weeks I have been completely convinced summer came early. I had such a great week last week/weekend this past weekend and I have been very busy that I think I'm going to use these clouds as an excuse to just chill for a couple days. This post is going to be about the weekend, but I couldn't help but include a picture of one of my favorite classes. They are the equivalent of sophomores, and I have so much fun with them and I'm going to miss them so much! There are 38 of them, and I saw them all together for the last time, this week so I couldn't help being the cheesy TA that just HAS to take a picture. So, voilà:

Small church on Ile-Aux-Moines

Pascale and Corinne on the boat!
As I have said, Monday I work at an alternative high school, working with students with physical and mental disabilities. There are only two English teachers, Corinne and Pascale, who work with me and they are so nice and invited me to the coast on Saturday. I have been to the northern coast a few time, up to Saint Malo, Cancale, Cap Fréhal, and Mont Saint Michel, but somehow I have never been to the southern coast so I was so excited when I got the invite. Saturday morning we left around 10 am and could not have asked for a better day. The area we were in is called Morbihan and it took about an hour and half to get there. We parked the car and took a small, quick ferry to an island called Ile-Aux-Moines (which means Monk's Island, even though there are no monasteries on the island). While it is the biggest island in the gulf, it is very small, only about 3 miles by 4 miles. We walked all around the island and it was so adorable and picturesque. All of the houses are old stone houses, or houses that seemed very Mediterranean, all white with blue shutters. 
Admiring the ocean from above

the beach!

The flowers were incredible and were out everywhere - mostly wisteria and lilac so the whole island smelled like summer. We walked along the beach, through the middle of the island, and ended up back by the port where we had lunch. I had a very delicious scallop and leek galette. I couldn't get over how much it looked like Maine! We decided to take a tour of the gulf by boat, which took a little over an hour. There was someone on the loud speaker to describe to us what was "sur notre gauche" or "sur notre droite" - so different islands, beaches, and lighthouses. I couldn't believe that I was on a boat, on the ocean ... in April! 

Little John Island or Brittany, France?
Yarmouth Boat Yard or the gulf in south Brittany?

Boat ride around the gulf
the perfect beach house?
On our way back home, we stopped in Vannes, which is a larger 'city' on the coast that reminded me a lot of Rennes. We did little tour, stopping to admire the architecture, and the castle that is in the center of the old city with extremely impressive gardens. We got home around 7 and it was one of the best days I have had here. It made me miss the ocean and summer so much, but soon enough! 

Gardens at the castle in Vannes

After a true summer day on Saturday, I was out and about again on Sunday, this time to Paris to see my friend Julia (from Huckins, who is living in Grenoble) run the Paris Marathon. I went with my friend Margaret (go Yarmouth!) and we left Rennes around 8 am. We were fully prepared with cameras, sunglasses, sunscreen, summer attire, wine opener, and ready to cheer on Ju. We first arrived in Paris at 10:30 and grabbed a bus to the Arc de Triomphe where the race was finishing. At first there was supposed to be a detour, and we were going to have to walk a ways because the roads were closed, but our bus driver was so nice and along the road let us know that the route was now open so this is what we first saw about 20 minutes into our time in Paris:

Yarmouth in Paris!
 Not to shabby huh? We had some time to kill, so we took a little walk down the Champs Elysées and grabbed iced coffee and lunch before heading back towards the finish line. You never think that you care about little things like iced coffee, until you can't have it. It's not like I have been craving it all winter, but as soon as you know you can't have something, what do you do? Crave it. Much to our dismay, we became the Americans asking "Est-ce que vous avez café glacé?" At least it was in French right? Extremely content with our iced coffee we settled in at the end of the finish line and while we couldn't get close to the actual course because of the thousands of people, we sat in front of the screen anxiously awaiting Julia's finish. 

Where's Julia?
We ran into Jordan and Aaron, two of Julia's friends from Grenoble who came to cheer her on and the four of us flinched at every girl wearing a white hat and 'FINISHER' t-shirt, hoping it was her. When we finally saw her come in I was so impressed. I can't believe it was her first marathon! We got some more munchies, some wine, and lots and lots of water, and found a place to sit near Champs Mars, the park by the Eiffel Tower. Situated in the sun and with a beautiful view, we sat and chatted and congratulated Jules from about 2:30 to ... 7:30.

Yay Ju!! So proud!!

Beginning of a great day ...
The sun didn't leave for a second. No clouds at all. We took bathroom and ice cream breaks, but other then that we just hung out. It was one of the best days I have spent in Paris and I can't get over how lucky we were to have so much time to just sit in Paris and talk with good friends. We didn't do a great job of watching the time because Margaret and I were a bit stressed for time by the time we grabbed a quick dinner and got the train station, where the elevator was broken, of course. We made the train (thank god because it was the last train to Rennes that night ...) and both took a little snooze on our way home. Yet again, cutting it short, because we both RAN to catch the last bus heading in our respective directions. I finally got home around 1 am and after a long shower crashed completely. All in all, it was such a spectacular weekend. I was in the sun all weekend, ate good food, saw good friends, and really did my best to take advantage of every minute. Il faut profiter!

friends overlooking Paris (and the 'Inception' bridge)

Thursday, April 7

Officially Spring

The weather here has been so incredible and it truly feeling like Spring in Rennes ... almost summer! I am attempting to 'profiter' from my last two months here. March and April have been so busy, in the best way possible. I have been taking on extra hours helping teachers with their own work, giving oral exams for the bac (the exam you need to pass in order to finish lycée) and helping students with their science projects which they are attempting to do in English. In addition to school, I was SO lucky to have one of my BFF's from Bowdoin visit me and we had a Bowdoin reunion ... in PARIS. It was so surreal to see my friends walking around Paris, seeing the Eiffel Tower, and taking naps in the Tuileries Gardens. I feel like I have been so lucky lately that I am in complete denial of leaving. I have lots of pictures and updates so bear with me!

Nice weather brings delicious picnics ... 

Flowers blossoming at school

Spring in Rennes!
A couple weeks ago, before Margie visited, the weather had been spectacular, so my colleague and I went horseback riding about 15/20 minutes outside of Rennes. It started a little rainy in the morning, but after our two hour walk, the sun was shining and it had been the best afternoon. Even though it is only my second time, I love my horse Mélo (short for mélodie aka Melody). She is so beautiful and so easy to ride. After a very long, but beautiful day, I rushed home to shower then back out to the train station to meet Margie. It was SO incredible to see her and it felt like a dream that she was just getting off a train in Rennes and making dinner in my apartment.

We spent Monday and Tuesday walking around Rennes, eating at my favorite restaurants and just catching up. Monday was my friend Fabienne's birthday (she is the Germany assistant at Lycée Chateaubriand) so we had a big dinner for her. Margie was a trooper and came along, despite not knowing a word in French. The countries that were represented were: France, Spain, Russia, Italy, Germany, and of course the USA. It was quite the mix of language and conversation, but I couldn't have been happier to have Margie meet all of them!

International raclette dinner
Yula (middle) is a film professor at school, and she brought her
baby, Milo with her to dinner. Raquel (right) is the Spanish assistant
and was attempting to get Milo to understand a Spanish lullaby 
From left to right ... Elsa (Russia), Marisa (Italy), Fabienne (Germany),
Margie!, me, and Raquel (Spain)

Wednesday, even though it rained, we made the trek to Saint Malo for the afternoon after my class and had 'moules frites' and enjoyed the ocean despite the rain!

Our apartment

Thursday morning we left early for Paris and had the day to ourselves before Sarah came to join us. We went to the Pompidou which was great because I had never been and I really enjoyed it - it is such a cool museum and I really want to go back and spend some more time there. Thursday night Sarah joined us and we spent the night in a hostel. Friday and Saturday were THE best. Friday we slept in a bit and went to a garden in the Latin quarter to wait for Allie and Abbie to arrive. It was so nice to be reunited and so crazy to just be chillin' in Paris with friends from school who I hadn't seen in MONTHS. We rented an apartment on Rue de Rosiers in the Jewish Quarter and after checking in the afternoon, we unloaded, went grocery shopping and Margie made incredible pasta, along with bread, cheese and wine, of course. It was so comfortable and easy, it almost felt like we were back in Brunswick N (Abbie and Sarah's old apartment at Bowdoin) making dinner on a random Friday night. Saturday we were so lucky with the weather - it was like 70 degrees and even though we were a bit 'tired' we rallied and took a bus to the Eiffel Tower.

Cheers to Bowdoin!
perfect dinner.

We walked back along the Seine and made a couple pit stops at La Durée and a place to grab sandwiches. We finally ended up in the Jardins de Tuileries, in front of the Louvre. We lounged on the grass among other Frenchies for a couple of hours before saying goodbye to Allie. On our walk back the the apartment, we indulged in Berthillon ice cream - their 'caramel beurre salé' or salted butter caramel is THE best ice cream. Saturday night was very low-key more pasta making and we all attempted to get some sleep and prepare for goodbyes the next day.

Bagels in the Jewish quarter ... how can you not?
Bowdoin at Hotel de Ville
JUMP! For my love ...
Berthillon ice cream break on the Seine
Margie left in the morning and it was so weird to see everyone start to depart one by one, but Sarah, Abs and I took advantage of our rainy Sunday in Paris, getting Pierre Hermé macaroons, and going to l'As du Falafal for lunch - which seriously NEVER disappoints and is worth the wait. Sarah and I took the train home, she dropped me off in Rennes and continued on to Brest and I got home in time to shower, have some dinner, and have some time to myself (let's be honest, I caught up on the reality TV I hadn't watched all week ...) All in all it was SUCH a great trip and I feel like we did SO much in only 3 short days.

View from the Pompidou 
Miss Chanel herself
Back in Rennes the weather has continued to deliver sun, so in between school and extra hours I have been working, I have absolutely been enjoying the sun (and may or may not be burnt already ...). I have been seeing my friend Margaret a lot which is so fun - Margaret went to Yarmouth and is studying abroad as a junior this semester here in Rennes. She and I have been doing weekly dinners and last night we satisfied our mexican craving AND celebrated her 21st birthday! This weekend I am going to the coast on Saturday with two of my colleagues from the hospital school I work at on Mondays, and Sunday I am going BACK to Paris with Margaret, to see my friend Julia (Huckins girl!) run in the Paris marathon!! I'm SO lucky and so proud of her I cannot wait to see the whole thing. So stay posted for Parisian adventures.

And in case you are looking to go to Paris and want some (accessible) chic hints check this out!

à toute à l'heure!