Posts tagged with "vacation"

France: Day 9, Rochefort-en-Terre

It’s so nice to be accept­ed into anoth­er fam­i­ly, and to be able to live the way they do for a bit. You get a taste of some­one else’s life and habits. That’s when a trip is more than just a vis­it to a dif­fer­ent place, and becomes an expe­ri­ence.

And on our last day in Rochefort-en-Terre, there were still things to do and dish­es to eat.

cleaning mussels

Cleaning the mus­sels for steam­ing in white wine and onions. This is how Frédéric won Misun’s heart.

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France, Day 8: La Roche-Bernard

La Roche-Bernard is a small com­mune 30km due south of Rochefort en Terre, with about the same pop­u­la­tion. It’s said that the town has more boats than peo­ple; the rich leave their ves­sels in the port until they have a few weeks of vaca­tion, and take off from here after arriv­ing by car or train.

It was orig­i­nal­ly a viking colony, tak­en up as a fort because it con­trols access to the riv­er that runs through it. The hills above are still pock­marked with stone walls and canons on the hills above.

La Vilaine

La Vilaine is the main riv­er run­ning through La Roche-Bernard, flow­ing out into the Atlantic Ocean.

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France: Day 7, Rochefort-en-Terre

We drove near­ly 400km into Brittany along the west coast of France to Rochefort en Terre, a small town of only about 600 peo­ple.

Normally this would take about four hours, but the high­ways have a 130km/h lim­it (off­set by a toll to access the high­way), and this cut an hour off our trav­el time. Not that it mat­tered, as the French coun­try­side is won­der­ful to watch, pop­u­lat­ed with hills and a vari­ety of colour­ful foliage. There are also end­less cows roam­ing the pas­tures; I final­ly under­stood why cheese, but­ter, choco­late, and cream are so promi­nent in French cui­sine.

It’s strange to be in a place that’s so remote. To go for orga­nized sports, you have to dri­ve to the near­est city, which is 30 min­utes away. At the same time, all the ameni­ties are a 5‑minute stroll away. There’s no traf­fic here, no light pol­lu­tion, and no noise save for a bark­ing dog or two. In this part of the world, the cul­ture is rich in his­to­ry, but the life is rel­a­tive­ly untouched by the com­pli­ca­tions of urban liv­ing.


The first cat I’ve seen in a week. He’s grown old and docile, and luck­i­ly, this means you can pick him up, put him in your lap, and he’ll be just as hap­py as by the wood burn­ing stove.

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France: Day 6, Paris

It’s been rain­ing almost non-stop across France ever since I got here, so when I woke up to a sun­ny day, I had to take the chance and head out to Paris. I decid­ed to see how far I could get on foot from Gare Montparnasse, my goal being a cross­ing of the Seine.

Paris is divid­ed into arrondiss­ments or dis­tricts, spi­ral­ing out­ward from the Louvre like a snail shell, with each one hav­ing a char­ac­ter­is­tic feel. I began my walk in the 14th arrondiss­ment, and trav­eled north.

After about four kilo­me­tres, the stiff­ness in my legs told me I should head back. But Paris is dense and full of cul­ture and his­to­ry at every turn; on every block over there’s some­thing that catch­es the eye, and you nev­er want to turn around.

Fountain of Saint Michel

Fontaine Saint-Michel, locat­ed in the 5th arrondiss­ment.

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France: Day 5, Chartres

I’ve been step­ping out of my com­fort zone. Having far too com­fort­able a life at home meant I grew com­pla­cent. I had no wants, which meant I did­n’t find the same plea­sure in the sim­ple things as I used to. Here, I live with­out a cat, with­out a ukulele, with­out a reg­u­lar chance to show­er, with­out locks on the bath­room doors, with­out speak­ing the lan­guage.

I need­ed to be remind­ed of how oth­er peo­ple live, and expe­ri­ence things I nev­er felt com­pelled to do in Ottawa. It has­n’t been easy. I mem­o­rize French phras­es, and hope no one responds out of a pre­dict­ed path. Even then, I fall back on an English-French dic­tio­nary, and Pouvez-vous par­lez plus lent­ment, s’il vous plaît, just in case. It’s some­thing I’ve been forc­ing myself to do, and at the end of the day I’m nev­er dis­ap­point­ed.

Daty croque monsieur

Various styles of croque-mon­sieur, a grilled ham sand­wich with cheese melt­ed on top of but­tered pain de mie, a pack­aged French bread that’s per­fect for toast­ing. Every bak­ery and fam­i­ly has their own ver­sion of this.

In the back is shred­ded guyère (a medi­um-bod­ied cheese), being sliced is mont d’or (very creamy and salty, and stuck to my teeth), and already halved is Camembert (which was super rich with a smell rem­i­nis­cent of a garbage, but cer­tain­ly did­n’t taste like it…still, I had a hard time get­ting over the smell).

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