Last Stop, Normandy...

The last leg of the Walters sister's European adventure ended in Normandy. This is Rachael's current stomping grounds, so it seemed only fitting I take a look around. We ventured out on several day trips, with Rachael at the wheel, expertly navigating France's excessive number of roundabouts, with me less than expertly actually navigating. At least I made a good DJ. 

First stop on our tour was Mont Saint Michel. See that castle-looking building behind us? Ya, we climbed to the top of that. On foot. How I did not come back from this trip a size two is beyond me. Oh ya, the pasta. 

Mont Saint Michel is an island that houses an abbey, but was only accessible during low tide. It's strategic fortifications drowned off, would be assailants, in high tide. The island has a population of 44, but about 3 MILLION people come to see it every year. Crazy, right? 

We felt a little bit like we were at Hogwarts while navigating the island. Rachael may have stood in a giant chimney and yelled, "Diagonally." Unfortunately, we were short on floo powder that day. 

So the next day trip we set out on was to see Rachael's old hangouts. She studied abroad with a host family three years ago in Caen, France. We saw the castle, Chateau de Caen, complete with bridge and lookouts. We also walked to see both the Abbaye aux Hommes and the Abbaye aux Dames on either side of the city. William the Conqueror had to build these as penance to the pope for marrying his cousin. One is dedicated to her and one to himself. Both William and Mathilda are buried in their respective abbeys. 

Also in Caen I dangerously discovered that H&M clothing is both slightly different than ours at home and better quality. Let's just say whatever few euros I had left from our trip were put to good use. :) Keep a look out this weekend for some photos of one of my favorite new pieces! This day trip may be partially to blame for my carry on being too heavy to take on the flight back home. The other person to blame would be Rachael. 

Last, but not least, is the little town that Rachael inhabits for a year, Deauville. Is she not the cutest? Everywhere we walked (at this point, just assume I'm walking), reminded me of Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. 

Nestled along the English Channel, Deauville is a fashionable holiday getaway for the international upper class. (Read: It was too expensive to buy anything but crepes). Deauville is home to an international film festival, the Grand Casino, and the closest beach to Paris. 

I absolutely loved getting to see Rachael's home, the schools she is teaching in, and everything about her daily life. We got fresh pastries every morning, cooked dinner each night, and I made her, at least walk, on the beach each day. Yes it was freezing, but not everyone gets to live so close to the sand! Well you could see the sand further out, the ground was actually BURIED in shells! It was the craziest thing! Think bubble wrap on steroids. 

We headed back to Paris to bring our trip full circle, back to where we started. One last night of boeuf bourguignon, french onion soup, creme brulee, and red wine. I was absolutely terrified I was going to mess up getting from the subway to the airport, and the 23 hours of travel with a 5 hour lay over in Chicago didn't help. But mainly, I was super sad to be saying goodbye to my little sister until July! I could not have asked for a better trip, or a better experience to share together! Now she just needs to hurry her butt home so we can, after 5 years, finally live in the same city!