Trip to France, part 2: Rennes & Mont Saint Michel, wedding at Nantes
The idea of having Rennes as a sojourn was very spontaneous. We met a sympathetic French artist from Rennes on the Ruzyne-de Gaulle flight. He collects rare carnivorous plants and often flies to foreign exhibitions to add his collection. We chatted and decided to use Rennes as the transfer point to Mont Saint Michel because it is a nice little town with great wine and cheaper seafood (as he said) which suited our travel and wine budget:-). And it ended up true, plus a great pattisserie near the train station and the nicest gyros ever.
The little town was actually large in terms of tall and old Romanesque buildings, public places, and green space. Its scenic roads and thriving centre made our day. Old pretty wooden houses (as I call them gingerbread house:-)), XL size gardens, abundant choices of resto and bakery, and the PASTA fast food served us well. As the capital of Brittanie, Rennes reputation as the university town is supported by the availability of various studies centres such as law and politics. The only drawback was our painstaking efforts to find a warung telepon or paid telephone outlet. The outdoor international photo exhibition and our "wine lesson" with Laurent Duthion closed our lovely night before we were off to Mont Saint Michal the next day. Bonjour mon ami.
Tabor in Czech means a camping place. Well, this Parc du Thabor maybe can accomodate that meaning too. This park with a cathedral serves as its frontier is more than just a garden with its French-garden concept and residence quarter. You may find a kindergarten, college (i.e. lodgings), some public offices, walking track, flowerbed square, antique greenhouse and statues celebrating the fountain, and its large grass-carpeted park surrounded by protecting trees. I wished there were still reserved places like this in my country. In Ondra's short opinion, "Hey, this place is not bad. I will take a nap here...zzzzzz..... In a minute, his buzzing joined other sleeping beauties rythms:-). Sleep tight:-)!
Mont Saint-Michel is a little rocky piece of land which loses its connection with mainland and became an island everytime high tide comes. In this island you can see a village with local people and trading activities related to tourism and pilgrimate, coz on the top of the island there is an abbey and romanesque church. The abbots still live the seven-service and eight-hour praying lives per day. Besides its unique being, its existence is remembered by French as the royal family once took refuge in this complex in the wartime and continue fighting for France in the name of independence. This is one of our favorite place due to its remoteness and nature bound. You can reach this place by bus from Rennes which is a couple of hours from Paris. Precaution: always check the bus and transport connection schedule beforehead or you have to end up spending more day in the island or other places due to this technical issue.
After enjoying MSM we returned to Rennes only to pick up our baggage in the hotel and then we took a train to Nantes to rejoin with our friend Yoko and her husband-to-be Arnold.
Arnold picked us up at the Nantes railway station and took us to the hotel. He was extremely helpful, so it was hard to believe that it is actually HIM, sho is getting married the folloing day:-) It was already night, but too early to go to sleep, so we went out after Arnold recommended us some places to go for dinner.
Nantes is a nice little city decorated with its ever flowing river which has created a sphere for all generations to spend time in the surrounding area. Great town planning with all commercial activities located in the centre (except the one and only Carrefour:-)) and the living estate at the backdrop, which of course gives you privacy. We spent nights by seeing the nightfair near Cathedral with all games, gambling, and carousel and merry-go-rounds. This strange combination of earthly thing and divine thing tickled us and reminded us of Brno city few years ago:-). Once someone left the night mass he straight up went to the gambling arena and tried his luck with bible in his hand, hahahaha..
Again, "hotel de Ville" has caused a friend got lost before the wedding ceremony. Its hotel title as always brings wrong impression to those who are not familiar with France. It is not a hotel at all - it's the municipal authority:-). That's where we finally met Yoko in the morning - at the wedding ceremony! The French secular wedding is even shorter than the Czech one and the officials have a wedding scheduled every 15 minutes! But as we understood later, the real "show" was yet to come:-)
Made in Singapore - Exported to America. The label melting pot does not belong only to America and Australia anymore as Singapore also creates a living space where many kinds of people mingle and live together. Our Japanese friend Yoko has found her French soulmate there in Singapore, who came there for a conference all the way from America... (confused:-)??). Now they got married in Nantes, France and invited us there before they moved to America. All best wishes for you and welcome to the mixed couple club:-)).
The afternoon party cannot be described in words, let the pictures speak:-) The boastful five-course meal, the proud singing group, the merry people, and the celebrated wine and dance. Where can you get all these? We found it in the Yoko and Arnold's French wedding with a handsome chateau as a bonus! This is my real wedding party in Europe after all:-)!!! (haha, very funny - O.)
Did we mention that we had a ball in the party? well, we had more than "a ball", we had "a headache":-). We kept eating, drinking, dancing, and talking and been driven home at 3 (pssttt...luckily we dont live with parents anymore and they wont know anyway coz we were abroad hihihihi...)
But we promised to see the couple and friends in the next day for lunch. So we managed went to sleep at 4 and forced ourselves to open our eyes and meet with hotel's breakfast hour. It was just a REGULAR lunch held by REGULAR French family to wrap up two-days REGULAR wedding party on REGULAR boat trip with REGULAR seafood and REGULAR 50 year French wine. :-))))))). OK, it was superb! The comfortable trip along the river with chateau and seagulls sightseeing and fine dining with scrumptious seafood and dessert was AN experience for backpackers like us:-). But we managed properly and not humiliating anyone (except ourselves, hahaha).
After the wonderful boatride we returned to the hotel and then went out to see some Nantes again. We enjoyed the fresh and homemade bread and pastry, the pétanque games near the river, and the cheap internet cafe, errr.. it's not cafe actually but a gyros outlet with big screen of Azeri TV with jaw-clenched faces seriously listening to news...
Later at night the newly-weds Yoko and Arnold and his two cousins took us out for a farewell drink. Yes, time flies and our trip is almost at an end... We enjoyed the night in the petite bar and had a great time in Nantes after all. Hopefully we will see Y+A in USA in 2007!
The time to go home has come. Just few remaining hours to find the REAL French Carrefour and buy some souvenirs:-) One thing we didn't understand here, how come there are not many Carrefours in its own country? And even if a city has one, it's very far from the centre. While in Indonesia and Czech, Carrefour hypermarkets mushroomed. However, Cathedral has always been the pivot in european cities. Proximity sometimes is measured by it. Nantes' very centre quarter with lots of restaurants and shops is close to the cathedral. But you can't buy food there...
Eventually we managed to find the Big C, bought all we needed and took bus back to the hotel (it was quite far). Pack everything and head to the railway station. TGV is already waiting to get us back to Paris from which we fly back to Prague.
Bon voyage!! And merci beaucoup!