Holidays in France 2014

The holidays can be a hard time of the year for many, especially those that are away from family.  Andrew and I have been lucky to be around nice friends for this time of the year and for the past few years we had seen Andrew’s parents for Christmas.  In November, for Thanksgiving we hosted 8 other people in our apartment (10 including the two of us) for a tasty meal.

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Andrew is simply amazing; just look at that food!

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I did help with the salad and deviled eggs, but nothing compared to what he did in our itty bitty kitchen.  I also must note that a couple friends brought the apple crisp and tart.

I incorporated a couple traditions that I had started last year – The Reading of Anonymous Thanks and the Question Jar.

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I think everyone enjoyed both of these very much.

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Christmas time was approaching fast and we hadn’t really decided what we would do with ourselves.  Our friend, Ian, had mentioned earlier that we should come and visit him and his family in the Bretagne (Brittany) region of western France.  We decided to take him up on his offer and headed that way via train the weekend before Christmas.  One small note, you do not need to arrive at the train station very early at all – they don’t even tell you the platform until 20 minutes before departure.

Ian’s parents let us rest in their guest cottage during our stay.  Isn’t it cute?

Day 1 - cottage

Our first night, Ian prepared a nice meal for us.

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Our view in the cottage 🙂

Day 2 - cottage view

The next day we took the dogs for a walk in the woods/timber.

Day 2 - walk 1

Day 2 - walk 2

There was this older home in the timber area that is not lived in anymore.

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These signs in the woods were interesting!

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Then we took a trip to a neighboring town (La Roche-Bernard).  All of the towns in France are so cute.

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Hobbit door.

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Gazing out over the water…

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We also walked/climbed down the unmarked path of the rocks – not so easy in my rain boots.

We popped into this café for a coffee and then headed back to Allaire.

Day 2 - walk in town 18

Eleanor’s cat loves me 🙂

Day 2 - waving cat

On Saturday morning, we headed to Vannes to get supplies at the market for Christmas dinner on Sunday night.  Vannes is a walled city.

Day 3 - market at Vannes 0

Day 3 - market at Vannes 1

Get your horse meat!  I still haven’t tried this, and I’m not sure if I want to yet.  They say it is some of the best red meat you can get.  I have tried the milk (it is very sweet) and it is supposedly very good for us to drink.

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Wandering through the streets of Vannes.

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We sat down for a quick snack at a restaurant for what Eleanor had heard was the best croque-monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich).  It was definitely the best one that I have had so far, but then it is only my second.

Day 3 - market at Vannes 10

Here is a shot of the boats in the harbor.

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We also walked through the garden of the Château de l’Hermine.

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Day 3 - market at Vannes 13

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On Saturday evening, we all went to Rochefort-En-Terre.

Day 3 - night of caroling 1

Ian’s mom and Jeff were going to sing carols later that evening.  Before the caroling, Andrew, Ian, and I walked around the town for a bit.

Day 3 - night of caroling 2

Ian told us that this is where people used to come down to do their washing.

Day 3 - night of caroling 3

Here are a few pictures of Church Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye.

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Up on this hill sits Château de Rochefort en Terre.  I love this house.

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Day 3 - night of caroling 9

The town was so beautiful at night.

Day 3 - night of caroling 10

Day 3 - night of caroling 11

Now on to the caroling!  We all did okay, but I guess there is always room for improvement.  I think all of the bystanders enjoyed it, but I think we should have sung a little bit louder (Andrew said it was hard to hear us at times).

Day 3 - night of caroling 12

Day 3 - night of caroling 13

Day 3 - night of caroling 14

With the cooler temperatures, Andrew and I decided that we needed some Vin Chaud (basically mulled wine).  I’m just going to take a picture…wait, is that his tongue?!

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He was very nice though and decided to pose for the second photo.

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Did I mention that this cat (Gwen) loves me?

Day 4 - cat loves me

On Sunday, we spent the day around the house.  I went off with Eleanor and Jeff to visit some castle ruins in Rieux – I forgot to take my camera though.  Andrew and Ian worked on preparing dinner.

Day 4 - Christmas Dinner 1

When Andrew was breaking down one of the chickens, he found this!

Day 4 - Christmas Dinner 2

The table is set!

Day 4 - Christmas Dinner 3

We had raw oysters since it is a Christmas tradition in parts of France.  It was my first time – I thought they were okay.  Kind of weird thinking that you are eating something alive.

Day 4 - Christmas Dinner 4

There we are, all of us sitting down for dinner!  Well, minus me since I took the picture.

Day 4 - Christmas Dinner 5

The meal was pretty tasty.

Day 4 - Christmas Dinner 6

After dinner, we all played Jenga.  This family is full of master Jenga players.  I haven’t really played it that much, so no surprise I was out the first round.

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On our last day in Bretagne, Ian took us bike riding along the river.

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Beautiful scenery along the river.

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I just had to take a few more pictures of the cottage.

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And also a few pictures of Ian’s parent’s house – so cute!

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On our way to the train station, we stopped to see the castle ruins at Rieux again (that way Andrew got to see them).

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There are really interesting (and kind of creepy) carvings of birds everywhere around the ruins.

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The dogs LOVE their sticks!

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We also stopped to see Wendy’s place (this is Ian’s sister).  It was so cute, but I didn’t take any pictures sadly.  We arrived really early at the train station since Ian mixed up his time, so we walked around Redon for a little bit.

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Day 5 - last day 24

Visiting Bretagne was so fun and truly felt like we were with family the entire time we were there.  We hope to visit again in the future and hope we can repay the same hospitality that Ian and his family showed to us.

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