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Weekender: Mont St Michel

F and I were up at an ungodly hour – or what felt like it, since I got home near 1am after a week of work trip away – yesterday morning to kick start our long weekend trip in Brittany. The train from Gare Montparnasse took us to Dol-de-Bretagne in just under 3 hours, and a time-coordinated bus was waiting outside the train station (slightly to the right) to take us to Mont St Michel in 30 minutes.

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

On arrival, we headed to the visitors’ information centre, where free lockers are available for safe-guarding our main luggage for the trip and relieved us from having to drag it everywhere with us. A 1-euro coin will do the trick in locking up the door, which you can retrieve when you return the key later on. Time to make our way to the famous abbey-and-fortress-on-a-large-rock, and we opted for a walk instead of queuing up for the free shuttle; anyone feeling fancy could take a horse-powered carriage!

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Weekender: la chouette Dijon

A second wedding invitation this summer saw us heading to Rahon on the weekend of 14 July, and we took the opportunity to visit Dijon too. Probably not the best travel move of the year, since our sightseeing day was not only on a Sunday, it was also the 14 July, and just about everything was shut. We explored the town by foot randomly, and with some tips from the tourist information centres that were, surprisingly, open on a Sunday and a public holiday to boot, we found some activities to do.




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Weekender: How do you pronounce Metz?

I called it “mets”, with an emphasis on the T, but Frédéric duly corrected me – it’s “mess”. Whaaaaat? But why?

*Gallic shrug*

“That’s just how it is.”

River Moselle

Stained-glass windows

So I did a little digging. The name had its (Celtic) origin in Mediomatrici, which was then shortened into Mettis, before finally settled on Metz. The T was certainly part of the pronounciation in the past. This changed during the period of German occupation of Metz between 1871 and 1918. Annexed to the German Empire, the occupiers’ guttural speech seemed to make the T more pronounced than ever. The unhappy people rebelled in their own little way by dropping the sound of the T and voilà – you’ve got “mess”! Obviously, the pronounciation persists to this day.

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Weekender: Gilded city of Nancy

When an opportunity presented itself for travel, I’m hardly one to refuse the chance to do so. I guess some of my go-go-go-travel attitude must have rubbed off Frédéric as he ambitiously planned for our trip to his cousin’s wedding to be flanked with day-trips to Nancy and Metz. I have friends who agreed that both cities are small enough to be visited as day-trips, and after visiting them, I am more of the opinion that they make good spots for weekend trips.

Place Stanislas

Arc Héré

A TGV ride between Paris and Nancy takes approximately 1.5 hours and our early start means we arrived in Nancy just shy of 10am, affording us a day of exploration given we were also staying overnight in the city before heading off to Grosbliederstroff the next morning. We were lucky to have arrived on a sunny morning for what was to be a forecasted-to-be-cloudy-and-wet weekend. The day did progressively get glummier, but not before we saw the splendour of Place Stanislas in the full sunshine.

I am no historian so I won’t go into the birth and the development of the city, even if we did see the free exhibition of La Ville Révélée at the Palais du Gouvernement (daily except Monday, until 31 August) which looks at these aspects in details. The exhibition is part of the programme of Renaissance Nancy 2013, which has an interesting agenda that makes me want to stay longer so I can check them out.

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