Over the weekend I had the opportunity to go to four different destinations within a 3-hour drive from Angers: Anjou troglodytique, Fontevraud, Saint Malo, and Mont-Saint Michel. They started on Friday after my last class around 12:30pm and lasted until about 8:30pm on Sunday night.
Friday afternoon we drove an hour and a half to the l’Abbey de Fontevraud. This particular abbey is nestled in a valley and rich with religious meaning. We were given headsets and began our tour of the grounds. We started with the main abbey and worked our way through a maze of different gardens and sanctuaries. Stopping at each to get valuable historical information. The tour lasted about an hour. After which we were given 10 minutes to explore the abbey on our own. As my fellow CIDEF students rushed to different areas, I decided to sit in the nearest garden and just take the scenery in. I was only sitting for a few minutes when I heard someone singing from inside one of the abbey rooms. As I sat looking over the open landscape, I listened to the notes reverberating against the concrete walls throughout the abbey. It was an enlightening experience that I won’t soon forget.
After our visit to the abbey, we continued to a champagne distillery of Veuve Amiot. The process was explained to us as we ventured into the caves were the champagne is housed for months at a time. The tour ended with a taste testing of 3 different champagnes that the company produces.
We loaded the buses again and we taken to dinner. When we arrived, the hostess came to greet us. But instead of coming out of a restaurant, he came out of the side of a mountain and encouraged us to follow him into a small hallway further into the mountain. Out of curiosity we did. One turn led to another and eventually we stumbled upon a restaurant inside the cave. The tables were set, the candles lit, and the wine ready to be drunk. We took our seats at the tables and were served in the traditional French order. The appetizer first followed by the salad then the entrée, cheese, dessert, and coffee. By far the best meal I’ve had in France….. yet! The entrée consisted of panini bread that we were instructed to cut in half, spread butter and puréed pork, and put sautéed mushrooms and pinto beans soaked in olive oil into it. The toppings complemented each other perfectly. I ate 5 of them! After dinner we loaded the buses for the last time and were taken back to Angers.
We were given a day’s break and on Sunday we embarked on another adventure! This time we were headed about 3 hours outside of Angers to Saint Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel. We stopped first at Saint Malo, which is basically a peninsula off the coast of France that is fortified by a 13-mile wall making up its circumference. On the interior side of the wall is the city and on the exterior is the beach. We walked along the wall for a bit and then went to the beach and city below. The city was beautiful complete with a grand cathedral and tons of crêperies. On the beach, you could see across the bay to another city.
Mont-Saint-Michel was the next stop and the one that I was most looking forward to. After another hour bus ride and an overcrowded shuttle experience we arrived. For those that aren’t familiar with Mont-Saint-Michel, it is a small village built on an island off the coast of western France. The village is adorned with shops, restaurants, and a huge abbey placed at the top of the island. It is a sight that could take anyone’s breath away! We climbed what felt like hundreds of steps to reach the top. Finally we reached the top and were rewarded with a view of the ocean that was unceasing for miles. Then came the descent. We slowly made our way through the labyrinth of the abbey and ended up exploring the various shops until we reached the bottom. As we drove away that night Mont-Saint-Michel disappeared into the darkness.
Needless to say that my adventures this weekend were a success! Never dreamed I would have the opportunity to see such beauty!