I stayed in Rennes, the capital of the Britanny region, for three days. The day I arrived, there was a chill out zone set up in the main square with deck chairs, palm trees and live music – and they were giving out free mint tea. It was cool, only, I couldn’t sleep later because of the caffeine. I should have known better but it was free. Curse you, caffeine!
They also had free tours of the town hall and I learned quite a bit about the town too. In the past, there was a big fire in Rennes which they managed to contain in the centre. Which means that now, the buildings in the centre are relatively new and you only see the older period houses further out.
I was told there was “dancing” in the big park that evening. Turns out it was a music show with a small performance in a pagoda followed by a larger one on the main stage. The atmosphere was lovely. There were a lot of locals, many families. The first performance was traditional Breton music with a modern edge. I counted guitar, bass, recorder, drums, violin and bagpipes in the band. And then the people started dancing the traditional Breton dance. There were a few different dances and they all seemed to know it – I think it’s nice how the culture is still so strong. Some of the kids joining in were really cute about it, they couldn’t follow the steps so they would miss out some and join in again later.
There were galettes and drinks to snack on. I went for a galette saucisse and cider – specialities of Britanny! The galette saucisse is the Breton version of the hot dog. But with a galette to replace the bun. Brittany is the region of crepes and galettes so it makes sense, I guess. I saw galette kebabs too, wish I’d tried them now. Always next time.
I was staying in a hostel, the only hostel in Rennes. Well, it is a small city. And yet, it had a buzz. It felt more ethnically diverse than Caen. The nice thing about staying in hostels is that you get the chance to meet people, if you want to. Here they had a well-equipped kitchen and breakfast was included. Not all you can eat but you wouldn’t want more than one serving anyway – cereal, bread with spreads, yoghurt, hot drinks, a slice of quatre quart cake, juice. I do love breakfast.
The next day, I visited Mont Saint-Michel.
The heat was terrible but the view was stunning. If you can’t stand crowds and tourist groups then it might not be for you. It must have taken me an hour to get into the Abbey at the top. I got in free though (under 26, citizen of the EU) so that made me feel much better. There was this so-called speciality, the omelette de la Mère Poulard. It’s an extremely fluffy and light omelette, due to beating the yolk and whites separately before folding together again and cooking. Or so I hear, because I wasn’t prepared to pay 20 something euros for a fancy omelette. I might try making it at home though. Instead, I had some very fresh and tasty moules frites .
Three course tourist menu: fish terrine, mussels and fries, and apple tart.
There was a light show in the main square in the evening. It was very much like the fête des lumières in Lyon but it was a single stand-alone 20 minute show. They projected lights onto the building facades and made them look like they were moving and changing shape and colours. It was magical, like being in Lyon all over again.
On the last day I went to Saint-Malo, a town on the coast and about an hour away by train. Sadly, the weather was pretty miserable but I consoled myself with a crepe filled with frangipane. It was a nice enough town, but very touristy (and expensive) compared to Rennes.
And then that was the end. Visiting Normandy and Brittany just proved to me how much more there is to see of France. It’s only over the channel after all, a one hour trip by plane. I feel like I’ll be back very soon… a weekend trip to Bordeaux maybe?