Many college students dream of a time when all of their classes will be canceled so they can enjoy a little time to themselves, but rarely does that ever happen. This week, that dream became a reality for me when I found out that I only had class on Monday and Tuesday. I was so excited by all the possibilities for trips I could take and things I could do until I realized that my five-day weekend was not far enough in the future to plan something. To make matters worse, all my friends still had class, and many of the public transportation workers had plans to strike during the week, a commonality in France. I was disappointed at first, but then I realized that there are still plenty of things to do right here. That’s when I decided to plan my stay-cation in Angers.
I started off my stay-cation by enjoying some well deserved me time. I slept in, enjoyed long hours of Netflix and caught up on some errands I needed to run. Soon, I met up with my friend Clara, and we decided to visit the French McDonald’s — or McDo as they call it here. Now, this wasn’t our first time at the Angers McDonald’s, but each time has exceeded our expectations. The quality of the food was better, it was ready quickly and the customer service was really great. They even had a separate cafe area with coffee and treats, which was a nice touch.
About halfway through my break, I was finally ready to go exploring by myself. I walked some familiar areas but also ventured into new ones and found Eglise Saint-Joseph, a Catholic Church near downtown that resembles Notre Dame with it’s lifelike sculptures of saints carved delicately onto the exterior and symmetrical bell towers on either end. I stood there for a long while in awe at all of the detail on the exterior before moving on to my next adventure. For the rest of the day, I wandered in and out of all kinds of stores, bought some gifts for family and took many pictures. Eventually, all the walking began to wear on me, so I made a final stop into one of my favorite boulangeries by the chateau, called Ma Petite Boulangerie, to pick up a pain au chocolat and my first French croissant before heading home.
On Sunday, I did more exploring with friends at a local garden and an open air market while the weather was nice. Both the market and the garden were actually found by accident earlier in the day. I wandered into the garden in an effort to find a shortcut to church a few hours earlier. What I had thought would be a shortcut actually almost made me late to church because I was stunned by the centuries-old building that surrounded the lush, green garden behind the Musee des Beaux Arts. I was so in awe that once I found my friends after church, I had to take them there to show them. On our way, we came across numerous street closures. As we walked further, we discovered that the streets were closed because of an open air market. There has never been a market in this area on a Sunday while I’ve been here, so we walked through to see what they had. We spent over an hour looking at hundreds of books, antiques, jewelry, and furniture before making our way to the garden. At the end of the day I was really happy to have had the company of my friends, but having so much time to myself over the weekend turned out to be really good for me.
While I was alone, I was able to appreciate the little things more. I noticed children happily singing in the street, elderly couples walking hand -in- hand with their little dogs following behind, birds chirping and all the people walking around town with suitcases for their next grand adventure. I was able to take in everything around me and really appreciate where I was at each moment. To top it off, I experienced a huge personal victory when I spent an entire day by myself walking all over Angers without a GPS and didn’t get lost. Directions have always been a struggle for me, but when I made it back to my room at the end of the day with my pastries and my newly made memories knowing that I had conquered one of my biggest fears, I knew that everything else was going to be OK too.