Some friends from my program and I decided to take off for a weekend and, based on a combination of ticket prices and desire to see the ocean, ended up in Rennes. It’s only 2 hours west of Paris by TGV but about 5 if you’re a student trying to save money by going for the cheapest bus option. The city was super cute and seemed to have a lot going on–we encountered both a brass band parade and a treasure hunt in one afternoon. We also had to eat the regional specialty and had an epic crêpe brunch on Sunday.
But mostly, Rennes was a jumping-off point for the real destination: Mont-St-Michel. A sometimes-island that’s cut off from the mainland at extreme high tides, it’s a spectacular sight. There has been an abbey on the site since the 10th century, which at this point is a maze of different time periods, styles, and functions. The bus from Rennes drops you off a few kilometers away, and the walk to the island took about twice as long as it needed to because we had to stop and take pictures every few steps. The view of gothic spires against shocking blue sky and uninterrupted ocean never got old. I also loved wandering the abbey itself, from the vast dining hall to the massive wheel that once brought supplies to the abbey during its brief stint as a prison. We also watched wave after wave of parachutes land directly in front of the city. It was awesome!
I think it’s a mark of student life that one of the highlights of the trip was staying in a real house. Sitting on a couch, going to the bathroom without taking a key, having your refrigerator in the actual kitchen… it feels like the height of luxury at this point. We took advantage of the swanky digs and made a feast Saturday night–grilled (!!) steak and zucchini, green beans, epic garlic bread, and grilled peaches. It was so nice to live like a grown-up for a weekend!