The middle of April it finally felt like Spring. Overnight, everything burst to life: one minute it was winter, everything dormant and cold, and then the next it was sunny, and flowers and birds song came to life. It was much needed around here, after 6 months of winter and a generally miserable last year weather-wise. And, it was just in time for all the visitors!
The middle of April saw me packing my bags for Paris to meet up with some of my favorite people. Just after arriving, I met my sister and nephew Rowan who were fresh off the Eurostar from London. Seeing my family is always like coming up for air…
That night we caught up with my dear friends Kelsey and Steven who are now living their own new Parisian adventure as a graduate student and a law student. The next day my gorgeous friend Emma arrived, and Kelsey, Emma and I reminisced about the good ole’ Teaching Assistantship days in Rennes.
And then the following day my brother-in-law joined us after finishing his work in London. The weather was beautiful for us, and we had a short but sweet visit in the City of Lights, despite some major mishaps with our rental apartments.
Oh, and you’re probably wondering about food. Besides gorging ourselves on Parisian baked goods from a variety of boulangerie across the city, we also had an amazing meal at Le Temps des Cerises in the Marais.
Then we were off, heading back to the Promised Land: Rennes. I had a long-awaited reunion with most of my friends from the assistantship. Kelsey, Berit, Emma and I enjoyed a romantical dinner at our favorite Rennais restau Chez Paul.
The following day Maren, Peter and Ro joined us for a market excursion, picnic in the Thabor park and of course, some coffee and cake at Apple Pie. All of my favorite things. But then, all too quickly, my family and I were back in the car heading home to Kreizh Breizh (Breton for Central Brittany), leaving my friends behind in Rennes.
We had a lovely week with Maren and Peter here. The weather was amazing, which made up for the terrible Spring weather they experienced during their visit last year. Hence, we spent a lot of time outside, exploring nearby villages, walking in the forests, hiking, barbecuing, soaking up the sun.
Last year when M&P visited we went to Cancale, Saint-Malo and Dinard. The big draw to the coast was oysters; we are a family obsessed with oysters. So this year, we went one step further and visited the source: Riec-sur-Belon.
The flat oysters of Belon are meant to be the best in the world. In almost every country you can find flat oysters called “Belon” for sale in the chichi-est restaurants, but it can only really be a Belon if it comes from the waters of this small town on the Finistère Coast. Only then can it have the meroir that makes a Belon a Belon. And the belon of all belons comes from Anne de Belon.
We first heard about Anne de Belon in the very same Anthony Bourdain episode that led me to the famous Seafood Tower. After having watched that episode so long ago, and having dreamed of Anne’s oysters for so long, walking towards her operation was a bit surreal.
It was worth the wait. But, I will say that I think Cancale oysters are just as good, if not, dare I say it, even a bit better. Or maybe I’m just partial because I have been to Cancale so many times. Either way, you can’t really lose if you’re eating oysters from anywhere in Brittany.
After Belon we headed to Pont Aven, an extremely picturesque and somewhat bustling little town just inland from Riec-Sur-Belon. After a quick nose around and a lovely picnic lunch by the river, and then we headed back to the coast to visit the thatched roof village of Kerascoët.
We capped off an amazing week of sunshine with a big birthday bash chez nous for our friend’s 60th birthday.
The next day we said a teary goodbye to my family, but I’m comforted by the fact that I will see them in just one month when I go to New York for my brother’s wedding…
*Thanks Emma and Maren for some of the photos!