Yes, there are a few French national holidays in the month of May and this year, it just so happened that the first two fell on Fridays. I therefore decided to make the most of the “ponts” as they’re referred to and visit two cities I know very well.
First stop – the West Country! I headed back to Exeter, where I spent three years as an undergraduate studying French and Italian. Those who know the city (not to mention the student haunts) will be able to roll off a list of must-do places. For example, I couldn’t visit Exeter and not go back to Boston Tea Party, Firehouse and the Impy.
In true Exeter fashion, it rained the whole time I was there. But I still really enjoyed it, even if passing people on beer runs on Sidwell Street, listening into house hunting conversations in Firehouse and even watching people revise in Boston’s made me miss my student days.
For the second long weekend, I went to another city I lived in as a student – Modena. I remember arriving in the city for the second half of my year abroad and wondering if I would ever be able to navigate its typically Italian cobbled streets. I was, of course, but it surprised to find that when visiting two years later I was still able to find my way around.
My weekend in Modena was, of course, filled with food and drink. Spritz, aperitivi, gelati, pizza, pasta, lambrusco – I did them all. Spending just a couple of days in Italy made me miss not just la dolce vita, but la vita Erasmus – particularly when talking to current year abroad students about their upcoming beach trips.
It feels like more than two years since I was spending the second half of my year abroad in Modena. It also feels like more than 12 months have passed since I sat my final exams in Exeter. But when visiting both cities, it almost felt as if I had never left. So though I’m now happily settled in Paris, it’s good to know that I can visit Exeter and Modena and still feel at home.