Bienvenue à Rouen

A few weeks ago a friend asked if I wanted to visit Rouen- pourquoi pas? I replied. Train tickets were cheap and it would be fun to visit another French city. I had NO idea what was in store. All I knew was that Katherine had found us a place to crash on a ‘couchsurfing’ website.

Nathan (our other friend) and I boarded the train at St. Lazare on Friday afternoon. French countryside flashed by, the sun slowly set along the horizon, and BAM we were already in Rouen. Met Katherine there (she had taken and earlier train) and we walked through the town to the apartment where we would be ‘couchsurfing’.

Prête à manger!

Our host, Jeremy, was SUPER nice and cooked us a leek quiche and an apple tart. Plus salad and bread, bien sur. He works as a local cook so it was super delish. We enjoyed getting to know him and swapping English and French slang words and pop culture. Jeremy also drove us to a local look-out ‘panorama’ point on a hill where you can see the whole city. Very pretty!

Next morning we woke up très tot at 7:30 in order to meet Katherine’s family friends who were driving us to Mont St. Michel, an incredible tidal island in Normandy. It had the potential to be awkward- Katherine had never met these family friends and Nathan and I were total strangers- but it was a lovely day! We spent the 3 hour car ride talking with Brigitte and Dominique (but also sleeping!) Unfortunately there was a TON of fog so we couldn’t really see out into the countryside as we drove.

We arrived around lunchtime so decided to grab some déj before climbing the Mont St. Michel. Decided upon the very toursity but delicious “La Mère Poulard”. Grâce à Wikipedia:

“The restaurant dates back to 1879, and is known for the wall of autographs from over a century of famous diners, including Ernest Hemingway and Yves Saint-Laurent. Most famous for its speciality giant omelettes: several inches thick, made in hand hammered copper bowls, and cooked over an open fire.[2] The omelettes resemble a soufflé more than a traditional omelette.”

About to become egg-cellent omelettes

It was BEYOND AMAZING. I was stuffed to the gills after feasting on the vegetarian starter plate, the omelette, and then a chocolate tasting plate for dessert. Noms. Also: very tasty local cider from Normandy. NB: Almost all cider in France is hard, sparkling cider! Not your average apple juice upgrade that’s appropriate for elementary schoolers.

Next, we mounted the Mont. There were tourists absolutely everywhere even though it was such a crappy day. Nevertheless, I loved checking out all the churches and little nooks and crannies within the buildings. Very cool place, and beautiful view despite the fog.

Mont St. Michel, et crazy amounts of fog

Fog fog fogg

All the while, Katherine, Nathan and I were trying to figure out whether we had been invited to dinner by Brigitte and Dominique. They had been using the pronoun ‘on’ to talk about their dinner plans, and it was unclear whether ‘on’ refered to just them two or to the whole group of us. Confusion/awkwardness! We finally figured it out (the answer was no!) and happily joined our couchsurfing host Jeremy for dinner at his friend’s house. Super random, super nice of him to invite us along. The three of us, Jeremy, his friend Thibault, and Thibault’s two nephews  nommed on fajitas.

They invited us to join them to go LAZER TAGGING. 10 PM on a Saturday night and what were we up to? Playing lazer tag in Normandy with a 10 yr old, a 14 yr old, and two 26 year olds. I had never played (and was absolutely horrible.) Some employee at the place went through the instructions and I put on my litte vest-thing. The game began and we were all running around this weird little black maze with flashing flourescent lights. While some of the players were stealthily hiding behind columns, I was pretty much running amock like a chicken with its head cut off…. haha. Our team lost 😦 And Katherine, Nathan, and I placed in the last three slots out of all twenty players. Good work, Amuuurika. We walked the nephews back, got a drink at a local bar called “Les Uns Les Autres”- like the movie- and then headed home for some good ole American pillow talk before bed.

Like any decent French young people, we slept in on Sunday. Jeremy and his girlfriend took us to the local market. It was a bustling place! Antiques, fruits, veggies, cheese, meats, cider, jams, books, clothes, there was everything under the sun there. We picked up some cider, camembert (Normandy’s specialty), sausage, bread, and veggies and brought it back to the apartment to nom picnic-style with a salad dressing that Jeremy whipped up.

Market in Rouen

All in all, a VERY solid weekend. Good looks, Rouen. Now back in Paris! I just discovered this video on YouTube- a mashup of the song “N*ggas in Paris” by Kanye West, with scences from the Woody Allen movie, “Midnight in Paris.” So much Paris, so much win.

-A

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