Throughout our study abroad program, there are several overnight field trips that students can go on with IES Abroad. These excursions are included in the cost of the program, excluding some meals. Throughout the semester we’ve previously traveled to the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. These field trips have been some of my favorite ways to spend time with my friends in the program and explore France outside of Nantes. In this blog, I wanted to take you through our last overnight trip at the end of March when we visited cities in the Normandy region.
We started our trip early Saturday morning, leaving at 7:30 a.m. Getting up early was a little difficult but luckily we had time to sleep on the bus. Three hours later, we arrived in Saint-Malo, a port city. I really liked it here because of the huge walls surrounding the old town. The amount of history that these French cities have always amazes me. Saint-Malo was a prime location for pirates and it was really cool seeing the remnants of that. We also were able to walk onto a beautiful island and get a phenomenal view of the city in the fog. We finished our time in Saint-Malo with galettes (essentially a savory crepe made with buckwheat flour local to the Brittany region- I would highly recommend) for lunch.
After another short bus ride, we arrived at Mont-St-Michel, an old monastery, abbey, and surrounding town built on an island. The abbey is separated from the mainland when the tide is out, situated high up on rocks. It was really exciting to see this because it served as the inspiration for the castle in the kingdom of Corona in the movie Tangled. There were a lot of stairs that we had to climb because everything just keeps getting higher and higher, but the view was certainly worth it. At the top of the towers, it was the kind of view that belongs on a postcard or a puzzle. You could just see the beach and the countryside continue for miles. And because it had been raining earlier, we saw a double rainbow.
We then took the bus to our hotel in Caen, rested for a bit, and set off for dinner. There is always one dinner provided by IES Abroad on the overnight field trips, and they are always a true French dinner with multiple courses and complex dishes. For our appetizer, we had zucchini soup, for the main dish we had chicken with mushrooms and potatoes, and for dessert, a decadent chocolate mousse. And, of course, following the French way, there was bread and wine provided with every course.
The next day, we went to the Mémorial de Caen, which is both a D-Day memorial and a World War II museum. One of the most interesting parts about this stop was learning about history from a non-American perspective, especially since the fighting of the war was taking place here. We then went to the American Cemetery memorial which overlooked Omaha Beach.
After a long bus ride (when I’m pretty sure everyone except the bus driver was sleeping), we returned back to Nantes around 9:30 p.m., very tired but very satisfied with a weekend well-spent.
I hope you enjoyed a taste of what our weekend IES Abroad trips are like. I will definitely miss being able to see so many historic and beautiful places in just two days while being surrounded by my friends.
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Hi, my name is Eleanor! I am majoring in French and Psychology, and I am so excited to be participating in the Nantes immersion program in order to improve my language skills and immerse myself in French culture. I love to read, cook/bake, and spend time outdoors. I can't wait to share my experience with all of you!