Laura’s French Odyssey Part 1

The Abbey of Mt St Michel by night from my Hotel room

Dear reader (apologies I’ve just finished Jane Eyre Laid Bare) my holiday has been just about the only thing that has kept me going the last few weeks (that and high content caffeine drinks and chocolate) so I intend to enjoy it all.

My journey from home to Paris was much uneventful – just the way I like it. I arrived at Gare du Nord and meet my companion for my adventure in the west of France. We went to buy our ticket for the following day – I learnt an important lesson – I need to work out how to book tickets in advance of arrive in paris – last minute tickets are v dear and unlike british trains where they cram as many in as possible the snfr is a journey train and you are allocated seats like US trains. Almost all on the train were armed with suitcases. The result of being ill prepared meant that there was only broken journey trains from paris to Rennes and for the first part to Le Mans I had to travel First Class. The only other time I brought a 1st class ticket was in italy again lack of planning meant last minute tickets in first to get a plane!!

The ride on the metro always surprises me that it only takes 20 minutes to Monteparness – where we checked into my regular haunt – hotel odessa – before heading to the best creperie in paris 2 doors down. We Queued for 15 minutes for the table but as always my crepe Nordic was delicious – wholemeal crepe wilted spinach and a v generous amount of smoke salmon. My companion went for the more butch quimper crepe with fried egg ham and cheese. We washed it down with cidre breton in traditional stoneware cups and completed the meal by sharing a crepe avec nutella.
A post pig out walk led us to discover a breton pub – the atmosphere from out side was v much like an Irish pub from the writing above the door to the celtic symbols. If it had not been for an early start we would have slipped in.

Just up the road there was to my delight a small supermarche. Now I have a small confession to make, I LOVE LOVE LOVE french supermarkets! I always have – they look and smell different to ours, they have small trolleys for children, they allow dogs in, the fruit and veg look so big and bright and natural and the fresh counters are great. This was a small express Super U but I was excited! Breakfast briosh, cerial bars Clementines & OJ was brought. A slow walk back to hotel before turning in to the Simpsons in french – yes simple things.

The french also put their clocks back on the last weekend of October. Thank goodness Blackberry knew to do that or we would have missed the first train!

Its a 5 minute walk to Monteparnass station from the hotel, and espressos and snack and lunch in the form of macroons and Quiches were brought from Paul.

I love continental Europes train stations, I love the chimes to draw attention to announcements, I love the flippy floppy retro departure boards and I love the tickets. They state the trains number so its easy to find on the board.

The first part of our journey was in First class. The seats generous, the table space good the fellow passengers pleasant. The trains are quiet and smooth, and before long we arrived at Le Mans. The change over was only 10 minutes or I would have had a nose around the town famous for racing vintage cars.

The 2nd class compartment was just as comfortable once the snfr guard chucked the arrogant wannabe rap artist from my seat. The only real difference in the class carriages was the type of people. You don’t get hungover students in First. Because we left tickets to the last minute myself and my companion were in different seats.

The travel was made nicer by the french countryside and the quirky things you see like the abandoned retro citron car in a field, the ramshakle tumbledown shacks and barns and the variety of different breeds of Cows and sheep of all colours.

Although it is another day of travel its not bad travel like commuting to work its exciting as you like the destination and its relaxing travel as there is not start time, its your time to think, day dream, write, indulge in some dodgy pop music or just look out the window.

Rennes train station has not changed in 10 years since I was last here! I left the satation and headed to the closed coach station hoping that there would be coaches to Mont st Michel. My luck was in – there was one and the lady driver was very kind. The coach was comfortable and the road smooth and myself and my companion were the only 2 non Japanese travellers.

Stain Glass Windo in Mont St Michel Cloister

Ever since I was a child I have loved mont st michel. I dream and pine for both italy and france and just like Venice, Mont st Michel has stolen my heart. I returned 12 years ago as an adult it it still held the magic it did to a 10 year old!

This post has been more travel log than historic ramblings and musings – but dear reader for that I do not apologise!

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One Response to Laura’s French Odyssey Part 1

  1. Andrew says:

    Awesome blog post, and cheers for sharing. 🙂 I’m looking forward to part 2.

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