Just last week, I had my birthday, and what better way to celebrate it by going out of town for the weekend? Not only did I have my four days off from teaching, but also it was Easter weekend (which didn’t actually make a difference for me, since I usually get Mondays off from work, but still a nice gesture!).
…and with that, I decided to hit the Brittany region of France! Similar to the cold, rainy coastal weather of Normandy, Brittany is also known for its Celtic influences, as well as distinctive “Breton” specialties like its historic walled cities, old-fashioned biscuits, and of course, its galettes (buckwheat crêpes; more on that later).
I left on Friday afternoon, taking a BlaBlaCar over to Rennes, my first stop in the Brittany region. Left at 15h30, and what was to be a three-hour drive turned out to be slightly over four hours, due to some insane traffic near Caen and then in the city center of Rennes (it was Easter weekend- should’ve expected that…). A real pain, but really, what could I do about it? 😛
Any case, I arrived in Rennes around 19h30; I was staying with a Couchsurfing host (let’s call him “Andrew”), who picked me up from the train station where I was dropped off. We went over to his flat, located right in the city center, where I dropped off my bags and then we headed out to the student/historic quarter, where Andrew gave me a quick tour of the city at night. Saw the Hôtel de Ville and Opéra right across from each other (interesting design of each, as the former is “bowed in” and the latter is “bowed out,” so that if you look at the two in a panoramic form, they seem to fit right into each other, “lock-and-key” style. Really neat!). 🙂
Also saw the “oldest house” in Rennes, the El Teatro, which is now a night-club, as well as just wandered the quaint, cobblestone streets of the old center.
We went to the student quarter afterwards, where things were hopping that Friday night: bars and cafés were open, people sitting outside smoking and enjoying their meals and company, and so forth. Since I wanted to try a “traditional Breton dish,” Andrew showed me a food stand which sold galettes aux saucisses- buckwheat crêpes with a fat sausage in the middle, finished off with cheese and onions. He told me that it’s a simple one to make, since historically the galettes were eaten by working-class people, whose wives had to prepare their meals quickly for work, hence the buckwheat crêpes. Although super greasy, meaty, and salty, the galette aux saucisses was mind-blowingly delicious; perhaps it was because I was starving at that time, but in any case I was in heaven~ ❤
We walked around town some more, eating our galettes before hitting a bar to watch a bit of the soccer match (France was playing that night) with some of Andrew’s friends. Left after about 45 minutes to an hour, returning to his flat where I showered, freshened up, and turned in for the night.
The following morning, we did a day trip to two cities near Rennes (Saint Malo and Dinan), but more on those places in another post. We returned later that afternoon, around 16h00; we chilled out for a bit in his flat, before heading out around 19h15 to the nearby supermarket to purchase some Breton beer to bring to a party at his friend’s apartment.
Took the metro over, and arrived around 19h40 at the flat. In total, about ten to eleven people showed up to the event; it was basically a lot of talking, drinking, and eating some frozen pizza and snacks (although there was an amazing chocolate ganache cake afterwards). I tried the Breton beers, which were pretty good, but man, I was super full after a few bottles; seriously, I cannot handle carbonated drinks for the life of me. 😛
Eventually around midnight, Andrew took me back to his flat (I was tired, and not really feeling the party), but returned to the party afterwards, which was fine by me- I needed to rest, as well as some privacy. Just freshened up and went to sleep.
Woke up the next morning around 8h50; daylight savings went into effect a few hours before. Andrew was back in the flat, having had returned close to 6h00 (dang!). Chilled out for a few hours until Andrew woke up, and then we went out for a quick bite to eat for lunch, as well as a tour of the Hôtel de Ville and Opéra again, this time in the day. Also stopped by a pâtisserie to purchase some kouignettes, the mini-versions of the kouign amann, a traditional Breton pastry layered with butter and sugar. Quite rich and sweet, but worth the experience!
Afterwards, I had to leave Rennes, since I had a BlaBlaCar appointment to my next destination over Easter weekend. Said goodbye to Andrew, thanking him for the pleasant stay. Took the metro over to the meeting pointing, got my BlaBlaCar ride, and left Rennes around 14h30.
In retrospect, I enjoyed Rennes. Definitely had things going on, considering that it’s a university town with a “younger crowd” (aka students, people around my age). But it also had a lot of old charm, with its buildings being a mixture of 16th-century architecture (like le Teatro) and that of the more modern 19th century. And that galette aux saucisses was to die for; I wish that I could have had more of them while in Rennes, let alone the Brittany region! Alas, will have to return for that…
More of my adventures over Easter weekend to come very soon. Stay tuned!
— The Finicky Cynic
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