Now, it has come to my attention that I’ve totally haven’t yet blogged about my past two-week vacation whilst in France…and it has already been three weeks since then! Not that I’ve forgotten (well, maybe a bit), but considering that so much as gone on since returning to work and that I had other posts to schedule and publish beforehand, my travel posts have gotten pushed back.
To be frank, I didn’t travel too much this time around. Considering that I have my Master’s program to do (and pay), I am tight on money to spend for travel pleasures. Which I would really like to, but as a friend told me not too long ago, it’s better if I wait and save.
In any case, I only spent a weekend away this time around, simply exploring the coast of Normandy; I have an old colleague who lives in Le Havre and so I decided to go visit her, as well as stay a few nights at her place while also making day trips over to nearby towns. She was more than welcome to accommodate me, so I didn’t have to worry about finding lodging and paying for it (much appreciated!). In return, I respected her house and made myself the most perfect guest I could possibly be. Helps that I had a whole year of practice beforehand in France!
I took the train over to Le Havre on Thursday morning, arriving there in the early afternoon. My colleague picked me up at the train station and we spent the afternoon hiking the cliffs in a nearby town (more on that later) before heading back down to Le Havre and exploring the city center. I was really fortunate to have experienced such good weather that day; the beach looked absolutely stunning!
Even though I’ve been to Le Havre numerous times last year during my first year in France, I continue to enjoy visiting it, since although it’s more modern than other French towns (and many people even call the architecture “ugly”), I couldn’t disagree more. I actually like the wide, open plan of the city, with plenty of pedestrian walkways and grid-lock streets that make it virtually impossible to get lost. In a way, it reminds me of home in Los Angeles.
My colleague and I headed over to the city center to check out the St. Joseph Church (constructed after WWII, after the city was pretty much destroyed and rebuilt from scratch. Hence the modern architecture), as well as the shopping district with les Halles Centrales, an indoor market with plenty of different produces: fruits, cheese, meats, wine, etc. A bit on the pricey side, but nevertheless delicious-looking!
Just outside of les Halles Centrales, there was a bakery that my colleague took me to, which she told me was the best, most-reputed bakery in the city. According to whom, I don’t know exactly but in any case I got myself a ficelle comté (sort of a long, thin cheese bread) and a douillon (pear pastry) and both were heavenly. Definitely a bit on the pricier side, but worth the splurge nonetheless!
We also checked out le Volcan, which is a white building shaped like a volcano (hence its name). Theatre shows and other arts and culture performances are held in there, as well as a pretty neat library, in which I’ve been before.
Afterwards, my colleague took me back to her flat to relax for the rest of the evening. Considering that I hadn’t gotten Internet in my flat back in my small town, I used my colleague’s Wifi (she allowed, of course). Definitely was a life-saver, since I still had to work on my Master’s online during the stay.
The following morning, I had the morning free, so I decided to check out the André Malraux Museum (“MuMa” for short in French). It’s known to house the second-most amount of Impressionist paintings after the Monet House and Gardens in Giverny and for me being a huge fan of Impressionist art, I knew that I had to go check it out. Plus, it was free for me, being under 26 years of age!
As for the museum itself, it certainly did not disappoint. Although small, it was packed with tons of paintings from the greats like Monet, Degas, and Pissarro, as well as from local Normand artists like Boudin and Dufy. Nevertheless, all of them satisfied my Impressionist-loving heart. ❤
In the afternoon, my colleague took me over to other nearby small towns for a visit (again, more on them later) and later that night we headed to Le Havre’s city center for some drinks with another teaching assistant like me, who funny enough is working at the school that I worked in last year. Just had a nice chat before heading back to my colleague’s flat for the night.
My colleague was leaving for Paris later that weekend, but was kind enough to let me stay the extra night at her flat while she was gone. During my last day in Le Havre, I mainly stayed inside, since again I had a ton of work to catch up on for grad school and writing. I did, however, go out briefly to the supermarket along Les Docks Vauban, which is located near the train station and remains one of my favorite places to visit while in Le Havre. It contains a huge shopping mall, with popular clothing stores like H&M and Adidas along with a super cheap grocery store in which I got my groceries. There’s also a lovely little port on the way to Les Docks and on a sunny day, it’s especially lovely.
The following morning, I woke up super early to leave Le Havre, as I had an appointment in Rouen for processing my immigration-work documents. Caught the bus at 6h45 and was off, after spending a solid four nights in the harbor city.
Overall, it was a pleasant, tranquil stay in Le Havre. I had a good time staying within the city and hanging out with my colleague. The place remains beautiful as ever, and my hope is to return sometime again later this year to see it again!
More to come soon! Next up: Sainte-Adresse, Harfleur, and Montivilliers, France! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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