Though France is beginning to blossom and warm, on Saturday morning I wrapped my fuzzy pastel scarf securely around my neck in preparation for the cooler coastal winds of Saint-Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel. For the third IES field trip of the semester, we headed back to Brittany, the northwestern region of France known for its cider, crêpes, and galettes (savory crêpes made with buckwheat flour). After two hours of dozing on the bus, we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes and marched into the charming port city of Saint-Malo.
Enclosed behind a giant stone wall, Saint-Malo is filled with seafood restaurants and crêperies, boutiques and classic cobblestone streets. Under blue skies, Saint-Malo is postcard perfect. Seeing the sea was our first order of business, so my friends and I breezed past signs for fruits de mer to reach the beach on the other side of the city. Beyond a small opening in the city wall, cobblestone became sand and seashells. Squishing our sneakers into the shore, we watched a group of young sailors prepare their boats for the English Channel. Imagine growing up so close to the coast that you can learn how to sail long before you learn how to drive!
Once we had gathered a sufficient collection of seashells and climbed the city wall for a better view, we headed to a crêperie for lunch. I had a galette with goat cheese and honey, an incredible combination I recently learned from my host sister. Since traveling is about trying things new, i.e. eating anything and EVERYTHING a new city has to offer, we also stopped at a Breton pastry stand for Kouign Amanns (a sweet, multi-layered cake) and Ker-y-poms (a shortcrust pastry filled with fruit).
Tummies full of treats from Saint-Malo, we hopped back on the bus towards Mont-Saint-Michel. An island commune, the Mont-Saint-Michel can be either surrounded by water at high tide or solitary in the sand at low tide. Mont-Saint-Michel has been on my bucket list since I first started learning French in high school, so it was a treat to finally climb up the steep streets and stairs of the tiny town under the abbey. From the top of the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, the island’s pièce de résistance, you can watch other tourists risk sinking in the quicksand revealed by the low tide. Real quicksand— Oh my! But don’t worry, we didn’t see anyone sinking!