The streets of Rennes are vibrant with holiday spirit during December. Lights are strung throughout the town and boutique doors swing open and shut as people shop. Sapin de Noël (Christmas tree) sales spot the city. *Cultural difference: I haven't seen one above four feet tall yet.*
Transmusicales is a music festival in Rennes that lasts for several days. My friends and I bought tickets for the showing on Friday night. It was so much fun – I recommend for any future SYA France students. The concerts were held inside eight different halls where varying genres of music blasted. There were artists from everywhere (I listened to a DJ from San Francisco.) My host parents were thrilled that I went – like I said, they met there!
The Marchés de Noël are Christmas markets that consist of popup booths selling everything from chichis (churros) and meat to leather wallets to handmade jewelry. They add to the friendly, welcoming vibe of the city.
Fête Foraine is a huge fair set up for the entire month. It is filled with giant sticks of cotton candy and rides that my host family refuse to go on with me. They think I'm an adrenaline junkie – they tell me all the time about how I like the "sensations fortes." Thankfully, my friends were willing to go with me and ride all the rides and buy all the sugary snacks that I wanted.
Arts du Feu is a weekend-long art festival. My host family took me into Rennes to see the handmade work. Although it wasn't the most exciting experience of my life, it was very nice being able to experience the local culture. I'm trying to take advantage of every opportunity.
I am finally beginning to feel at home. I now know all the shortcuts around town and where to find the best crêperie. My host family and I get closer every day – they are truly amazing. They are EXTREMELY patient with me – they spent two hours straight helping me edit a French paper the other day. The first semester of school is coming to a close, and with that I am preparing for my family to arrive!! We are going to stay in Rennes for a few days then travel around Europe. It'll be very weird having the two different sides of my life together, but I couldn't be more excited to show them around my new city and introduce them to my family