To start, France graced me with another long holiday and my friends and I took advantage of two weeks of vacation at the beginning of April. The first week I stayed in Rennes catching up on sleep and doing what you are supposed to do on vacation: nothing. We kicked off vacation with an amazing six hour long mimosa brunch complete with homemade bagels (thank you Kels and Steven) and hours of charades.
|quite the spread.|
I did take a day trip to Normandy with one of my colleagues to see the Les Haras Nationaux. I have to explain a bit because I think this is a weird concept for Americans, but yes, it is very similar to what we did in November: visiting a stud farm. It seems bizarre to explain what is basically visiting a historical, high class prostitution ring for horses, but France takes a lot of pride in their haras and they are always architecturally beautiful and historically very interesting. We visited the haras in Saint Lô. Built in the late 1800s the haras was used by Napoleon and after the bombing of Normandy during WWII, some of the buildings were reconstructed to be exactly as they were at that time. We went in the rain (surprise surprise) so we were the only ones to show up for the guided tour. We were able to poke around, ask questions, and most importantly meet the studs.
|old horse carriages.|
|where the manager of the haras used to live.|
That weekend we lost internet which came at a good time because I had plans to jet south to meet my friends Helen and Lindsay for the second week. (sidenote: it's week three without internet and I'm proving to myself going three weeks without compulsively checking email and watching online television is possible). I started by meeting Helen in Montpellier for a quick visit. Two days and two nights were met with lots of walking around, lots of wine, and lots of eating. Of course we couldn't visit the south without taking advantage of our favorite restaurant: L'Entrecote. I'm so glad this place doesn't exist in the US because I'm pretty sure I would turn into steak-frites. We only had one full day there which ended up being the only non rainy day so we spent it in the "park" which was more like an organic jungle playing cards, listening to music, drinking rosé and enjoying the sun. The next day we hopped the train to Toulouse to meet up with Lindsay and stay in Toulouse for a few days.
|red wine and secret steak sauce at l'êntrecote.|
|lazy day in the jungle.|
We found this great buffet vietnamese place with an amazing menu including pho which is actually the best cure to a rainy afternoon:
|goat cheese and fig tart with helen's homemade crust|
from lindsay's farm? don't mind if we do.
|traditional southern sausage with ...|
|traditional southern cheese ...|
|with roasted spring vegetables ...|
|and some radishes with butter as an appetizer ...|
|makes for very happy friends.|
|i mean, come on.|
|berit and rowan.|
|i wasn't kidding ... all eyes on sir ro.|
|i also met miss keziah, my colleague carine's|
six week old baby girl and we had a staring
contest that turned into love for a good two hours.
Yesterday was the first beautiful day we had in a while and it was labor day (which we all know the French take extremely seriously: complete with no public transportation and lots of striking) so we hosted a spa day to ring in spring with clear skin and manicured hands.
|and yes, there was champagne involved.|
|mayonnaise and egg hair mask?|
|claire and i: co captains of the synchronized|
This week is going to be filled with packing and getting ready for the transition home which will definitely be interesting, so I'm planning on getting my fill of bread, chocolate and wine before I leave. Home bound in T minus 6 days ...