WEEK 3: RENNES, FRANCE
Week 3: Excursions à gogo
Bonjour from the third week in Rennes!
We’ve finished up this week by taking a weekend trip to the coast, at a little town called Concarneau in the more western, Cornouaille region of France.
This has been, by far, my favorite excursion -- we stayed in a hostel on the beach, and had some free time to go exploring on our own before and after dinner. Sans tour guide, me and a group of friends took the opportunity to explore the historical “Vieille Ville” enclosed area of the city, now home to a series of creperies, bakeries, and souvenir shops. A small stage had been set up in the city square for a concert that night as well, so we got the chance to enjoy a bit of music before returning to the hostel for the night to stay in our rooms of four to six.
The trips between Rennes and Concarneau also included a few stops for meals and further exploration of the local towns. On the way there, we first visited Pont-Aven, a small town known for its many art galleries and boutiques that we explored on our own time after eating our packed lunches for the day. We then made our way to Quimper, where we followed a tour guide through some of the more important parts of the city, like the Saint-Corentin Cathedral, before exploring the many street vendors and shops on our own.
The river at Pont-Aven, Pictures from the Château de Trévarez
On the way back, we visited the small towns of Locronan and Trevarez. At Locronan, we had about an hour to see a few shops and art studios, where me and a few other students picked out matching dresses and little gifts to bring home for friends and family. We made friends with a few local dogs we met before heading into the restaurant “Le Prieuré” for lunch. After another hour on the bus, we arrived at the Château (or castle) de Trévarez, an enormous mansion with amazing views of the surrounding landscapes, complete with sprawling gardens and pathways lined with hortencias (the emblematic flower of the Brittany region). On the inside of the house, we read together about the history of the castle and its owner, noting the little differences between the explanations in English and in French.
Aside from the breathtaking views and adorable little shops, this excursion has been my favorite for two main reasons: first, we’ve had more freedom than ever before on this weekend trip, and second, this has been the excursion that to me felt most unlike anything I could possibly do at home. Language immersion itself is a unique experience that isn’t open to most high schoolers, but to be immersed in language and culture through independent historical and geographical discovery is beyond anything I could have hoped for when I imagined what kinds of “excursions” we might go on during the trip. Hearing from restaurant staff about regional ingredients in food, seeing actual rooms in the Château that were bombed during World War II, and interacting with locals left and right has left me in awe. I’m happy to have come this far, and I look forward to our last week in Rennes. Stay tuned-- until next time, à bientôt!