RandyLeGrant's Travel Journals


What was your most challenging travel experience?

Being dropped off in a remote area of Beijing in the dark and in the pouring rain and having no idea how to get back to my hotel.

  • 69 years old
  • From Oklahoma, United States
  • Currently in Connecticut, United States

Whirlwind Trip To Europe

I'm headed to London, St. Malo and Paris for back-to-back meetings to start 2011 exactly right with our European partners. It will be tiring, but very rewarding.

Think You Know France? Try Brittany!

France Saint-Malo, France  |  Jan 12, 2011
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 Where did the crepe originate? Where did Jacques Cartier sail from, when he discovered Canada? A walled city to the west of France. Stunning. Beautiful. Saint Malo. 

To get to Saint Malo you need to take the TGV from Montparnasse station if you're in Paris.  Taking the 10:00 a.m. train gets you a non-stop and you arrive at 1:00 p.m.

The St. Malo station is a 3 minute taxi ride (or very easy 15-20 min. walk) to the old city (walled) and from there you can walk anywhere you want.  Eat, drink and buy anything you want.  Saint Malo is stunning.

We were met by our partner, Angelina, from the CEI office in St. Malo, and after we checked into the Hotel De L'univers, we decided to have lunch.  A traditional lunch in St. Malo would include Mussels and French Fries.  Moule and frites is what I ordered, and that even comes with a glass of white wine.  And if I had one mussel, I had 100.  They were steamed in white wine, garlic, onion, Brittany salted butter, and fresh parsley.

I also learned the proper way to eat mussels.  I struggled with a fork until Ray, who runs our Paris office, told me to take an empty mussel shell and use it as a kind of chop stick.  Pick up the cooked mussel in the left hand, an empty shell in the right hand and just grab the meat with the empty shell and eat from there.  Easy and most importantly, fast.

From there, Ray and I decided to walk the Ramparts (the tops of the walls around the city and in the photos I've uploaded, you can get a nice view of St. Malo.  St. Malo proper is 50,0000 people.  But inside the walls the population is only 1,000.  I can't write enough words to describe the beauty and history of this walled French town.  Just enjoy the photos and hopefully you can read the descriptions on each one.

On Wednesday we started our meeting in the office and talked a great deal about the Conversation Corps-France program.  The program is working quite well, and we do plan to grow the program in 2011.

What excited me the most was that we are going to seriously consider a camp program, to send English speaking Conversation Partners to the children's summer camps around France and to offer a "coaching" partner to English teachers around France.  Hopefully these two unique approaches will attract even more conversationalists to France.

It was then lunch at a local Creperie.  For lunch one eats a crepe made from Buckwheat flour and Brittany salted butter filled with egg or ham, bacon, other meats and savory items.  In Brittany, crepes are traditionally severed with cider.  For desert go for the wheat flour crepe with all the chocolate, caramel, ice cream and other goodies you can stand in one day.

Crepes originate from Brittany, a region in the NW of France and of course where St. Malo is located. The Bretons are extremely proud of this fact.

Other facts include the St. Malo motto, "Not French, not Breton, but Malouins."  The word Malouin coming from "Malo".  The St. Malo city flag flies ABOVE the French country flag at town hall.  Jacques Cartier, who is credited with discovering Canada, made his sail from the port of St. Malo.

After lunch we had to beat it to the train station to get to Paris by 6:30 p.m.  Another meeting which begins at 7:00 p.m. and dinner at 8:00 p.m. and then packing for my flight to NYC tomorrow morning.  I am keeping an eye on the weather in the Northeast to make sure my flight departs as planned.

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