Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mont-Saint-Michel / Rennes

We left Paris on a high-speed train for Rennes. As much as I wanted to sit the whole time with my nose to the window, I succumbed to sleep pretty early on. And then kept getting woken up after each stop because the official in an all-purple uniform (hat included) had to check our tickets again. Halfway to Rennes, a man couldn’t present a ticket and was kindly given the boot at the next stop. We got to Rennes and bought tickets to Mont-Saint-Michel. We got to MSM in the afternoon amidst scores of other tourists. The island is certainly a spectacle, simultaneously remote and crowded. For the roughly 20 hours on the island, we circled up and down the winding path, admired the castle-like facade, resisted buying every pretty watercolor painting of the island, took a guided-tour of one of the museums that was all in French (sometimes I fake-laughed along with the group because I felt left out but got the side-eye from Jason), walked out along the road and took close to a million photos as the sun dipped below the sea beside the island, watched the sunset colors – bright oranges and pinks and deep blues – reflected off the sand and water, had a tables-are-turned moment being among mostly French tourists after our time in Paris as tourists among French locals, were dazzled by the abbey and the views on top – SO GORGEOUS, learned about the history of the abbey and the angel that drilled a hole into the founder's skull, admired Marisa’s gumption at getting up before sunrise to take photos, slept-in and missed the morning service at the abbey (sad), woke up to the sounds of seagulls, and explored the surrounding rocky beach (thanks to low-tide) in the morning in peaceful solitude.

We also stayed a day in Rennes, although there is less to say as it was mostly a day of sleeping, wandering and eating. We did see a quaint music festival in a lovely garden with tons of roses and every other imaginable beautiful flower. And a lot of cool medieval-style buildings. It was the place on our trip where the least amount of people spoke English, but people were nicer than in Paris. We stood for a long time in the metro station trying to translate and two different people came up and handed us their tickets with time left on them. We didn’t speak any of the same words, but it was touching.

A lady who took our dinner order kept trying to translate the menu for us and would blow a raspberry when she couldn’t think of the word. We went into a pharmacy and Jason had to gesture the word “deodorant” and the lady at the counter giggled. Perhaps because the deodorant he picked out smelled distinctly feminine once he started using it. We found a grocery store here and it was quite huge for Europe. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I felt much more at home in a huge store with a myriad of options than a little neighborhood market. There I hoarded more cheese, duh.

I think we may have enjoyed the city more had we spoken French and been able to take a tour of Parliament or go to a museum. As we were waiting in the train station to go back to Paris, I talked with the guy sitting next to me. He was originally from Turkey, living in Rennes to get his masters. He asked, “Why are you in Rennes? There is nothing here.”


  1. You are seriously making me want to travel ASAP with all of your beautiful photos & accounts of your trip.

  2. these are STUNNING! that bike photo looks like it should be used for an advertisement or something.. so perfect!

  3. I have an oval one and I am thinking of selling in and getting something from RH.

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