Yesterday I got to celebrate my first Bastille Day in France. We drove out to Josselin to see the fireworks and join in the celebrations. Although we didn’t go throughout the day, it was easy to see how much fun people were having. There were people dressed in tunics and capes, stands selling period clothing, food stalls, and bunting everywhere. Once we were down at the riverbank, there was a band playing. For some reason, they were singing ‘It’s Raining Men’ by the Weather Girls. Not like it has anything at all to do with the occasion. Josselin really is a very pretty town, with period buildings, small artisan shops and a beautiful town square.
The fireworks themselves were impressive. So impressive, in fact, that I forgot to take enough photos. At the height of the display, the sky was lit up with colour and light, followed by an ominous red flare bathing us all in crimson light. The smoke from the previous fireworks gave the impression that we were sat by a steaming volcano.The air was filled with ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaaahs’, with the occasional ‘woah’ at the best fireworks. After a round of applause, we all filed out and back to the car park, which was absolutely rammed. It was weird because we live in the middle of nowhere, never seeing another soul, then suddenly the bank is filled with people. But everyone was well behaved, even the drunk people. You wouldn’t get that in the UK, but then the French are more conservative with their drink!
Once we got home, we came up with the idea that I could take a weekend away somewhere else in France while I can, and of course Paris came up pretty quickly. After quickly checking prices and availability, it soon became clear that a weekend in Paris on my own wouldn’t be too hard to plan for. So, today I researched more through Trainline EU and Airbnb and managed to secure train tickets in August for just over £30. Because I’ll be travelling with SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français) I got 30% off the standard fare with my Carte Jeune.
A Carte Jeune is a discount card from the SNCF for young people aged 12 to 28, and it makes rail travel easier and cheaper. They have to be renewed every year, so they’re great for a year abroad if you’re unlikely to use them again. For a year, it’s €50 which is pretty good if you’re planning on a lot of train travel like I am. To my knowledge, they can be used on SNCF trains, OUIGo trains and OUIBus busses (The OUIGo company is owned by SNCF). For more information on this, and to buy a Carte Jeune (or another type of discount card) visit https://en.oui.sncf. If you live in the UK, you’ll be fine if the website loads in English, but if you’re already in France or living at a French address, you’ll need to change the language to French, otherwise it won’t accept your address.
So I’ve got train tickets sorted, and now I’m just waiting to hear back from my Airbnb host. Hopefully, I’m going to be staying in the Montmartre area in the 18th arrondissement. By staying further away from the main attractions and the city centre, I can avoid high prices and too many tourists. I’ve been told that Montmartre is an artsy area, similar to the Latin Quarter, just cheaper and quieter.
In fact, I’m planning on a very laid back trip. I don’t want to be rushing around trying to do everything in two days, nor do I want to stand in a queue for hours and be disappointed. Apart from the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame, I’ll be avoiding the tourist hotspots, focusing instead on the beautiful streets and hopefully seeing the Botanical Gardens. After all, I’m only there for a weekend, and I can always come back again. Naturally, I’ll probably pick up an Eiffel Tower keyring or fridge magnet, but I want to take lots of photos and enjoy the moment. I might take a notebook with me, so I can write down things I saw or did that I might otherwise forget. Then when I get back, I can properly scrapbook my trip. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to keep the blog up-to-date and document everything on here.
I think I’ll leave this post here, now that my wrists and fingers are aching from the typing! I’m planning to do at least one post a week, but depending on how much happens once I’m at UCA, I might upgrade this to twice a week. But for now, au revoir tout le monde !