Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brittany - Day 7

After bidding farewell to St Malo, we set off to Arras in the Normandy region. It was supposed to be a long drive so we left around 9 in the morning. Now, the main reason for going to Arras was to meet a friend. A and I had a common friend from our hometown and we thought it would be a great chance to meet her. She had been living there since a long time after marrying a Frenchman and had 3 kids.

After leaving St Malo, I had already started missing the place but with the hope of coming back again one day kept my spirits high for the last leg of our trip. We made a stopover at a town called Rouen for lunch. We took a small walking tour of the city center and had some sandwiches for lunch. We learned that Rouen was a pretty historic town. It was here that the famous Joan of Arc was burnt in the 15th century. The city was also half destroyed during World War 2 due to bombings from both sides. The city is also famous for its huge cathedral and an astronomical watch called Gros Horloge. We took some pictures of the city center and then continued our journey to Arras.

Below is the Rouen Cathedral with Gothic architecture. 

At the city center square or Place du Vieux Marché was a huge building which is the church of Saint Joan of Arc (below). It looked pretty modern though.

And this is the famous astronomical clock on one of the narrow streets in the city.

This building particularly caught my attention with its painted wall. Looked almost real to me.

We reached Arras around 5 in the evening. We directly went to our friend’s house. The place had a typical French architecture feel to it with big halls and high ceilings. As we entered the house we heard some familiar noises coming from one of the rooms. To our surprise, all the kids were sitting in that room watching Indian programs on TV. They had a setup box and could receive all Indian entertainment channels. The kids only spoke French but could understand Hindi pretty well. The husband of our friend was also well versed with India and Indian culture. He could speak proper Hindi, even with slangs. Actually, the guy did his Phd in Sanskrit and had done translation work of old Indian texts like Ramayan to French. It was weird talking to a French guy speaking our language. The family gave us a warm welcome and were pretty excited to meet us. After some chit chat, they took us on a small tour of the city. It was a small city with two huge squares in the city center. Our friends told us that the town is usually not that crowded but since there was a Golf Tournament that week, there were many people at the city center.

After coming back from our walk to the city center, our hosts took us directly to their kitchen where there was a dining table. We all sat there and frankly speaking, I was also feeling hungry by that time. The next surprise was to see Indian dishes. Dal Makhani, Dum Aaloo, Chappatis, Salad and on top of that Dahi Bhallas. A and I looked at each other and gave a virtual high five to each other. We never imagined sitting in a random French town, talking Hindi with a French guy and enjoying Indian food. We then just devoured the food. There was no stopping us. For dessert there was home made cheese cake which was even more delicious. The hosts made us feel very homely. After dinner, the guy told us some very interested experiences during his stay in India. We then discussed life in France, Germany and India and the positives and the negatives of each side of the coin. The talks went on till late night after which we went to a hotel for the night stay.

Next day we drove back to Paris and returned the rental car. I had my train back to Cologne and D and A had their flight back home. We had a coffee together at the train station and talked about all the nice experiences of the trip. After that it was time to bid each other good bye on the note that we will do another trip soon in the future. So, that was the end to a memorable road trip!

The route of our trip on the map:

View Larger Map


Raam Pyari said...

lovely pictures! but the whole of Europe is identical! said...

Thanks !! :)
I agree .. from the first impression it all looks identical, specially the big cities ... cobbled streets, big cathedrals but the real difference is more visible from the countryside. Take for example the difference in doors and windows of houses somewhere in south france and in north germany