The First Week in Angers: An Overview
Our first week in Angers was the definition of hitting the ground running. To put it simply: we had an orientation in Paris, took the TGV train to Angers, met our host families, settled into our houses, took placement exams at the university, toured the city, began classes, took a bus to Saint Malo, toured that town, took a bus to the sea, walked four miles (three hours) across the bay to Mont Saint Michel, hiked up to the abbey, took another bus back to Angers, and then spent a free day either at the movies or the Lac de Maine. Is that enough?
I’d say that the twelve of us are all great troopers and have adapted well to the city. Although many of us live a bit away from the center of town, we’ve all become proficient with the public transportation system here (maybe even more so than with our French) and can navigate confidently. The center of town is truly a classic little European city: cobblestone streets, light stone buildings, and the Place du Ralliement, our favorite meeting spot, in the middle.
It has certainly been a week of discovery. Besides discovering the language during our daily classes, I think we’ve all learned a lot about the culture. The experience of being thrown into a host family of strangers speaking only French was quite intimidating. But with the help of a dictionary by our side, I believe we’ve all found our host families to be extremely welcoming and the experience educational.
Just as we settled in, we were plucked out to Saint Malo. Saint Malo is a medieval walled town on an island, where the tides rise and fall forty feet, exposing the often populated beach. After a walking tour, we were free to explore the town for dinner, making our way through its narrow streets and even passing a parade.
The next day, a bus took us to a beach an hour away, where we met a guide who would lead us across the bay. As we learned, at low tide, up to 25 square miles of sand are exposed. The pilgrimage took three hours to Mont Saint Michel, and perhaps was the coolest experience we’ve had yet. On the island we had lunch and visited the abbey, and then we all slept through the three-hour drive home to Angers.
For the first time since arriving in France, we had a free day on Sunday. We were able to sleep in and make plans on our own time. One group decided to see “Despicable Me” in French of course, while three of us took a taxi to the Lac de Maine, a nearby lake with a beach. It was the perfect day to lie in the sun, swim, and relax. I hope that everyone else makes it there at some point, because it’s truly a hidden treasure of Angers!
And with that, we dive into our second week in Angers. We’ve got our routines down and are ready for more adventure!
Elizabeth Kingsley -Angers Summer 2 2013