Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mont St. Michel Excursion & A Day in Paris

The past couple of days here have been absolutely amazing. Almost dreamlike actually - it's hard to comprehend that I've seen so many historical monuments and been to so many beautiful places! On Friday, we all took an excursion to Mont St. Michel, which is located on the northern coast of France in the lower Normandy region. It was about a 3 hour bus ride from our residence in Angers, but since we left at 7:30 AM, we all napped on the way there so it felt like a short ride.

When we arrived, Mont St. Michel looked like a postcard or something out of a movie. Surrounded by nothing but shallow water and sand, the medieval monument sits on a small island surrounding a rock that was considered sacred to the French monks. The architecture was really astounding, and there is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic which told us at what times everything was built.

We were met by a tour guide named Jessica who took us all around and up Mont St. Michel. It was great having her to tell us about pretty much every aspect and every room and its purpose because without her I would literally have no idea what everything was.

Anyways, it was a long day of trekking up the stairs to get to the top, but when we got there, the view was beautiful. There is so much history embedded in everything and I could barely wrap my head around how many people have stood exactly where I did.

After Mont St. Michel, we all took an hour bus ride to Saint Malo, which is a kind of beach town in northern France. I wasn't even aware we were going here and thought we were just going to another popular French city, but when we got there we were all so excited because there was a beach! Although it definitely wasn't beach weather, some of us took off our shoes and walked in the sand. It was a beautiful day, so we got lucky! Unfortunately we only were there for about an hour and a half because we had to get back on the bus home, but some of us are already wanting to plan a trip to go back.

Now for the best part of my weekend... my trip to Paris! 10 other people from the group and I decided to take a day trip to Paris because it would be cheaper and less of a hassle than having to find a place for all of us to stay overnight. We had a lot on the schedule for the day: The Eiffel Tower, the Luvre (we didn't go in, we just went to it), the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the love lock bridge. In my mind, I was for some reason thinking that all of these places would be within walking distance in Paris, but I was wrong. We had to get tram passes when we got to Paris and figure out which trams went to which places. Luckily, some people in the group had done their research and new exactly where to go and what trams to get on, so we were surprisingly really successful at getting where we wanted to go.

Now for Paris itself. When I walked up into the city from the underground subway, I instantly got chills for like 5 minutes. I was in absolute amazement the entire time. I could never have imaged a city looking so beautiful and historic and clean all at the same time. It's no wonder people say it's impossible not to fall in love with Paris, because I certainly did! All of the monuments we saw were perfectly sculpted with elaborate designs, and the detail throughout the city is surreal. I'm glad I got to go for a day to get a feel for everything, because I'm planning to go back for a 3 day weekend and I can't wait!

A view walking up to Mont St. Michel. 

A view from the top of Mont St. Michel.

Another view. 

Along the beach of Saint Malo! 

The beach. 

Some yummy chocolate and pistachio ice cream I got at the beach! 

There was a delicious chocolate shop called Maison Larnicol at Saint Malo with so many flavors of macarons! I chose to get a strawberry and a rose flavored one. 

Notre Dame. 

Notre Dame. The pictures don't do it justice, but it was SO tall! 

Me in front of Notre Dame. 

The love lock bridge, so cute :)

Part of the Luvre. Sad we didn't have time to go in this trip, but I'm planning to go next time!

Lunch in Paris. A ham, tomato, brie, and goat cheese tart with a salad. 

The Arc de Triomphe. 

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower! 

Another Eiffel tower pic as I got closer. We were going to go up, but Paris was packed this day and the line to go was sadly huge! 

A picture of the group outside of the Luvre. 

The girls jumping in front of the Eiffel Tower! 

"A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and the point of life." - Thomas Jefferson


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