Books can be amazing friends when a child grows up. I think the books read can really influence a person whilst growing up. This is even more the case at that lovely age where puberty hits and you try to find how and what you are, which preferably different from what you parents are.
So when my mother brought me a book called Wheel of Fortune by Thea Beckman when I was 11 I did not touch it. Little did I know that just under a year later I would get Give me room from the library, which in fact was part 1 in a trilogy, of which wheel of fortune was the third installment. These books and specifically the middle one (Triumph of scorched earth) of the trilogy, have influenced me on many levels and were part of my realisation that I love history.
The trilogy is about freedom, gallantry, knights and normal life during the 100-year war between France and England. And interesting time period with interesting characters. The book weaves historical figures with non existing ones. One of the big stories is the Siege of Rennes. It takes about a third of the second book in the trilogy. The story has many layers; a boy growing up to be a man, a legend fighting for his king and desperation bringing out the best in people.
So being about an hour away from Rennes, still as it was in the 14th century the capital of Brittany we decided to go to that city that played such a huge part of my book growing up, though the city was much younger then. As it turns out this was a very very good move. Rennes still has one of the largest Saturday markets in France (Only Paris is bigger) We had no trouble finding it, just parking turned out to be a little bit of a hassle. After driving through some incredibly narrow streets, while being thankful we do not own a huge tank of a car, we finally found a place to part a little out of the centre. While we were trying to find a parking spot we could already see that we had chosen a pretty city, a very pretty one.
Soon we arrived on the market, where it was just as well that we were late there. The market people started to close up shot while we wandered through the covered parts. There they sold the meats. Meat so wonderful we just wanted to buy it and take it with us to the egg. Which was not possible. Cheeses in all kind of shapes and sizes. Breads, sausages. Just too much we wanted it all, but only took a bread with us. Outside we found the fishmongers, and behind that rows and rows of vegetable stalls. This was all before we even made it to the flowers section. SO and I were close to despair by that stage. We wanted to take the whole market including the buildings with us. Alternatively we discussed, albeit briefly, moving to Rennes, just because of this market. If you are ever near it, go there it is a foodies heaven.
And just when we though that this was already pretty amazing we got to a small street where you literally walked straight into a movie set for a middle ages movie. seriously the timber-framed houses, the leaning walls. You just expected some dirty water to be thrown from the top floor, which of course did not happen. SO and I were stretching our necks we could not continue to walk straight. The houses are so unstraight that if one falls the domino effect should be massive. we marvelled at the houses. It was not until then that we noticed this was all pedestrian area too. No traffic and as a result lots of seating in the street.
We sat down on the square at one of the many eateries for crepe. Our specific place used Breton black flour for their crepe and had them filled with all kinds of goodies. The toilets inside were down soe creaky small steep stars and seriously I was in awe the whole time, Nothing and I mean nothing was straight, and though it was small it never felt too small. After a main crepe we shared a nice sweet one with ice cream and chocolate. From there we wandered aimlessly through town. Looking up mostly and pointing to pretty houses. We walked through the oldest street and saw the oldest house. Now while this house is from 1505, it is actually younger than some of the stone buildings I have seen at home. It is also not the home of Bertrand Du Guesclin, though it bears his name. After all Bertrand dies in 1380 there is over 100 years between them, but it is nice to dream
After spending a few hours wandering the town we were tired and decided to go home. Just get some goodies and have nice evening in. All evening I soaked up and recalled my favourite books from back when I was young. I loved that city and would love to return again some day