GUEST POST: Kristine Irene- North-West France
Au Revoir, Paris. There's more to this beautiful country than just the city of lights, and I am eager to explore every single part of it. How lucky I am to have a significant other who is a Frenchman and knows this country like the back of his hand. How lucky I am to have found a man who loves to travel and explore the world, just as much as I do.
This summer we embarked on a road trip of discovery. Direction North-West. Brittany, or Bretagne – as it's called in French.
As much as I love and romanticize the idea of a road trip, there's nothing I find more uncomfortablefor my legs, my bladder and my personal hygiene. It's almost as if the inside of the car drains me of freshness and well-being. And the long drive makes me bored enough to sing along to the silliest songs on the radio, too.
First stop, Saint-Malo. A beautiful coastal city with sandy beaches, ancient buildings, and tall granite walls surrounding the old town.
It was the fourteenth of July. Bastille Day. We celebrated in a charming crêperie and enjoyed one of the most famous specialities from Brittany; crêpes – accompanied by cider, just the way the locals prefer it. Note to self, don't ever compare crêpes to pancakes, or call them 'thin pancakes' in front of a Frenchman. Apparently they take it as an insult.
After a lovely meal, we rushed to the beach to get a good view of the fireworks. Music was played in the background, beautifully synchronized with the firework display.
I recorded, applauded - and grinned like a child celebrating new years eve for the first time.
The following day was spent visiting Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. One of France's most famous tourist attractions, a spectacular medieval monastery on top of a very small, inhabited island. I was told to bring a jacket and even a scarf, as it could get quite windy and chilly on top of the island, but I ended up wearing neither, as it was warm and sunny all day during our visit. The tide was low, very low, and we could clearly see all the thousands of fish that were panicking as they were attempting to escape from the hungry seagulls circling around.
Our next stop was Dinan, an idyllic Breton town with narrow cobblestone streets and plenty of artisan boutiques and small galleries, as well as teahouses and cafes. The town was like taken from the imagination of a francophile novelist. I fell in love. I wanted to settle down here and write a novel about the place.
A river cruise took us on a gorgeous tour down the river Rance, before we made our way to a gastronomic restaurant to satisfy our taste buds and empty our wallets.
Last destination, Rennes. A young, vibrant city with bars on literally every corner. We visited a random one, as my other half wanted a beer. He ended up having two, as I didn't like the one he'd ordered for me. There was more to Rennes than its bar scene, though. Parc du Thabor, a beautiful 18th century park and botanic garden, was packed with people having a picnic, reading, photographing or going for a walk. There I was, photographing like crazy, while my other half was dozing off in the grass. That was, until security guards told us – and everyone else – to move. Apparently it was prohibited to step on the grass.
We finished the day with a lovely meal in a restaurant whose slogan was 'French cuisine – without all the fuss'. And the food was exactly that. Nothing fancy, nothing artsy, but absolutely delicious.
The North-West. I've fallen in love with you, just the way I fell in love with Paris when I first moved there. And now, I daydream about Dinan.