Friday marked the last day of classes before les vacances de toussaint. Saturday marked the day S and I left Dunkerque for the beautiful city of Rouen. After missing our train in Lille we boarded the next one, which got us into Rouen at the same time anyway.
Our hotel was a 15 minute walk down the main boulevard from the train station, and right on the river. It also happened to be across from a fun fare. We never went but every night was greeted with pretty lights shining on the water. It didn’t take us long to get settled, so, as it was late and we hadn’t eaten we went in search of food. Luckily some things are still open at 10pm. Rouen is a bigger city than Dunkerque and doesn’t completely shut down at night or on Sundays and Mondays.
The first full day there we spent the morning and early afternoon wandering around the city center. There was the square where Joan of Arc was burned and many cathedrals. We even found a portion of an old cathedral that had been mostly torn down – so of course I tried to climb it. For lunch we had decided on a traditional French picnic. Mostly because we found a market open on Sunday morning, but also because fresh food from markets is possibly one of the most delicious things ever. So after purchasing 2 figs, 2 apples, a hunk of cheese, a small loaf of bread (that may be the best bread ever, miel et chevre (honey and goats cheese)) and 2 desserts, we set off in search of somewhere to eat. Or the plan had been to eat that later and find something for breakfast, but we ended up at cafe with a plate of chips to share and a glass of cidre each. Then, still being hungry, and deciding to change our plans we sat down in a square outside one of the main cathedrals to have what is now known as our epic picnic.
The wandering of town continued for a while, but still tired from not having slept much we went back to the hotel for a bit of a break and to suss out what we wanted to do the next day.That night we found a creperie for dinner. Not Breton crepes (our favorite) but Normandy crepes, which pull a close second. In Dunkerque you get Flemish crepes, which while delicious are a bit odd (think crepe pizza).
The next day we had decided to either visit the forêt de Roumare (Roumare forest) or the jardins des plantes (botanical gardens). The bus ran near the forest, so after purchasing tickets we hopped on board and set out for the French countryside. From where we got off the bus to where we traipsed off the road and into the forest was about a 45 minute walk. We then spent about 3 hours wandering around the Roumare. All in all we figure we walked at least 8 miles our second day in Rouen. This is completed of course by another French picnic involving boulangerie sandwiches, pastries, & chocolate.
Day three involved S and me leaving Rouen. Our plan had been to drop of our suitcases at the train station and then wander around until our 2pm train decided it was time to show up. This however didn’t work because the station at Rouen isn’t big enough apparently to have luggage lockers. So we asked if we could take an earlier train out of Rouen. We already had an hour and a half layover in Paris, why not extend it? So we did. We also decided to take the next train after our originally planned departure out of Paris. So we spent the afternoon walking around Paris [leaving our luggage, and my camera in a locker], buying another epic picnic, and trying to reach the eiffel tower. However, we are both bad at remembering Parisian geography and guessing distances. We made it within eyesight of the tower and sat down to watch the sun set behind it near les invalides.
Basically, I went to Rouen for the weekend, then spent the afternoon in Paris before heading to London.
I’m not sure that sentence could seem anymore surreal, cool, or unbelievable. Part of my just doesn’t believe that this is my life. However, it is, and that is amazing.