Aero: Claire Darling – France 2014 – History and Culture


Aero: Claire Darling – France 2014 – History and Culture
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Claire Darling – France 2014 – History and Culture


Claire Darling

It was very strange being in a place where so many things have such great historical value; the French don’t seem to notice. The French are totally used to having a rich history and culture, the fact that the Vitré town hall is in a 14th century castle was no big deal to our hosts. Many buildings still remain from the medieval ages including houses made of wood, straw and mud. We learned that they pose a huge risk of fire and require expensive insurance. The streets were very narrow; it was unbelievable to see cars driving down them. Some streets still had drains down the center like the one leading to the drawbridge in Rennes. Even part of the fortress wall that once surrounded Rennes still remains. The age and history of our surroundings was really interesting.

One thing I was unaware of is the respect France has given the United States for their role in WWII. Their gratefulness becomes obvious when visiting the landing beaches and well-manicured cemeteries which are technically American soil. We met a United States veteran at the Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial who gave us a tour. His sole duty is to care for and give tours of the cemetery to educate people and honor those who died. Before the trip I knew about Normandy beach and D-Day but I did not know about Point d’Huc. It was absolutely amazing and eye opening to see the destroyed German bunkers and massive holes left by bombs, it made everything more realistic. 

We also visited Mont Saint-Michel and the Bayeux tapestry. When I imagined going to Mont Saint-Michel I did not consider the climb it would be to reach the actual abbey. It was a whole lot of stairs but totally worth it. We kept wishing that there were still monks there to observe but realized that is one downside to becoming a tourist destination, I think you lose some authenticity. The Bayeux tapestry was amazing, it had been described to us but I never could’ve imagined the reality. It is absolutely huge and it was crazy to stand in front of a nearly 1000 year old piece of cloth. I will always be in awe of the amount of important monuments and artifacts in France.

ML@FLCC France 2014 Flickr Gallery

ML@FLCC France 2014 Flickr Gallery

I found the French culture very unique and completely different from ours in the United States. I am so envious of the French way of life in which you spend time just enjoying life. I think that is one of the most important aspects of the culture. I was amazed at the relaxed answers the French girls gave when we asked what they wanted to do after graduation. They’re not so concerned about graduating college and getting a career right away. When I’m stressing about the future I can remind myself that there’s a whole nation of people that aren’t so worried and they’re doing just fine.

Learn More: Study abroad with Modern Languages @ FLCC

– Claire Darling

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