A major part of the experience here at CIDEF are the school-sponsored excursions. These excursions give you the opportunity to explore many of the attractions in the regions surrounding Angers that would be difficult to arrange otherwise. This semester they have offered four excursions: the first to Mont St. Michel and St. Malo; next two excursions to some of the many chateaux in the Loire Valley (the region that Angers is in); and finally to Normandy to see the D-Day beaches and the American cemetery.
My favorite excursion was the adventure to Mont St. Michel and St. Malo. For those who don't know, Mont St. Michel is an island, with a large hill, with an abbey on top, which was built over 400 years ago. St. Malo, on the other hand, is a town that is known for having fully intact ramparts, the wall around the city. The citizens of St. Malo continually patched holes that were made within the ramparts during both the first and second world wars, resulting in one of the only sets in France that are still complete.
To depart on the excursion, I arose at the ungodly hour of 6am in order to be at the school by 7am. At 7:15 our group of 160 students boarded the buses to begin our 2-hourjourney to St. Malo.
When we arrived at St. Malo, we were given 2 hours to explore the town and eat lunch. After walking along the ramparts, our group decided to explore a little and find a place to eat. We finally decided upon a place that was close to where we needed to meet our buses, after we had explored the city. For lunch I had a HUGE bowl of mussels (moules, en français), cidre (a hard apple cider), and a delicious crêpe covered in butter and sugar.
After lunch, we boarded the bus and rode along for another hour before reaching our final destination, Mont St. Michel. When we arrived, we were instructed by our director that we would begin hiking up the mountain immediately and then touring the abbey on our own. So, we power walked up the hundreds of stairs and steep incline of Mont St. Michel to get to the top and look out over Bretagne (the region of France that we were in). It was so beautiful up there! By the time we made it up to the top, the sun had peeked out from behind the clouds, painting everything with wonderful sunlight. After taking tons of pictures outside, we explored the church and many chapels of the abbey before making our way back down the mountain.
I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to experience these two places within France, one of which I had only ever read about. Although I was really tired by the end of the day, I feel very fortunate that I was able to see other parts of France, the country that I have come to love so much.