| 10°C Dublin

I lived in a French red light district, reveals Mary

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has revealed she was forced to leave a French studio apartment because of mice and prostitution in the area.

The 60-year-old said that she spent a year in Rennes teaching on an exchange programme between University College Dublin's French department and the English department at the University of Haute Bretagne.

"It was the first time that I had lived by myself, although I had been to France for a summer before, when I worked as an au pair. I loved that too, but the family I worked for were very wealthy and treated me like a servant," the Nationwide host recalled.


"When I first arrived in Rennes, I took a studio apartment on my own.

It was in an old part of the city, dating from the 16th century, and it was up a rickety staircase and very romantic, but not so luxurious. I had to buy my own mattress to sleep on and put it on the floor, and there were mice.

"It also became clear, after a while, that there was quite a bit of prostitution in the area, so it was rather scary and I couldn't stay there. I was also terribly homesick," the mum-of-four said.

However, she said that she had made a Scottish friend who was also doing an exchange, and the two girls decided to look for a place together. They found an apartment in a building called Les Horizons, a 28-storey modern apartment block, built to look like the funnels on a ship.

"Ours was on the 21st floor and we decorated it beautifully.

"It was close to the college, and a big food market, which was an exotic thing for me," said Mary, who was recalling her 1977 French exchange trip in The Sunday Times.

Mary said she had just got her teaching diploma, so she spent the year teaching English as a foreign language, and also teaching Anglo-Irish literature to post graduates.

She is now planning a trip to Rennes this summer.