Tuesday, March 16, 2010

La Tour Eiffel

I finally went to the Eiffel Tower (for no more than 5 minutes), but at least now I know I'm really in France!

Mont St Michel


Parc du Tabor

Rennes was beautiful

On My Own

This weekend was a whole new adventure. For the first time, I travelled on my own! I had two Eurail pass days that I needed to use, so I decided to go to Northern France. I went to Rennes, which is in the Brittany region of France. I left on Saturday morning and took the train, with a layover in Paris. I got into Rennes around 5:00 and made my way to my hostel with no problems. I dropped my stuff off and then went to explore Rennes. I swear the town must have at least 10 huge gorgeous churches. There was a new one around every corner! It was very cool. The style of building that is popular is the thatched buildings in various colors. It looked awesome. I wandered around town a bunch and then picked a place for dinner. I had a delicious meal, although I have to say, eating at a restaurant alone is not my favorite thing to do. I felt slightly awkward, but it was a new experience and I enjoyed my meal!

On Sunday morning I got up early and wandered around another part of town until the Musèe de Beaux-Arts opened at 10:00. I was there before they evened opened the doors, and I was the first person in. The museum had an archeology section and paintings from the 14th-20th century. It was very cool, and it was fun having the entire museum to myself. I really enjoyed it. When I was done there I made my way over to the bus stop and caught the bus for Mont St Michel. The bus ride took about an hour, and I was super lucky with the weather. It was a beautiful day. The first thing I did when I got there (after taking some pictures and just taking it all in) was go tour the abbey. It was amazing that such a huge abbey could be built in such a remote location. From there I got lunch, which consisted of some traditional Normandy dishes, such as pâté and sausage. It was a great lunch looking out at the view.

After lunch I had some time to kill before my bus came back, so I moseyed around the town and went to the historical museum. The town was very cool, but small, and a little tourist trappy. All the same, I’m very glad that I went and saw it. It was definitely worth it. Ever since 7th grade, when we learned about Mont St Michel, I have wanted to see it, so I’m glad that I have.

On Monday morning I had some time in town before my train at 3:00. I took my time getting ready, and then wandered to the center of town. I sat at a café for awhile and read the book I was in the middle of, Three Cups of Tea. Side Note- READ THIS BOOK! Kerri gave it to me the other day and I’m so glad she did because I loved it and found it very inspirational! Anyways, back to France… After my café I walked over to Parc du Tabor, which was one of the most amazing parks I’ve ever been in. It was gorgeous! It was so green and beautiful. There were statues and an aviary with all kinds of birds, and a huge botanical garden with tons of types of plants. I walked around just soaking it all in and found a sunny place to read for awhile. It was so peaceful and fun. When I left the park I went to get some lunch at a crêperie, because that is one of the things Brittany is known for… great crêpes. I had some of the most delicious crêpes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my fair share of delicious crêpes (although is it really possible to have a crêpe that is anything but delicious!) After my wonderful lunch I made my way to the train station through a part of town I had not been to yet, walking by about 50 new huge churches.

I got to the train station early, so I sat at one of the cafés across from the station. It was so nice out that I was able to sit outside without my coat, which was VERY exciting. I caught my train and changed trains again in Paris. I had to change train stations, but I had an hour and a half, so I decided to take the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. I decided I’d been in France for long enough, I really needed to see the Eiffel Tower. I hopped off the Metro, snapped a photo, and then went to my next train station. But at least now I know that I’m really in France. I got back to Aix around 10:00 with a new sense of accomplishment and self confidence. It feels great to know that I can handle traveling on my own for a weekend!

Back to class today wasn’t too bad. We have the most class on Tuesday’s with 6 hours, and it’s nice to get that out of the way with for the week. Today was especially hard because the weather is finally starting to resemble that famous Provencal weather that lured us all down here in the first place, so we really just wanted to be outside. We went to a café after class, and all the ones that got any sun were absolutely packed. As we were sitting I made the observation that class here really just feels like the filler that gives us something to do between the weekends. I have quite the schedule coming up. Eric comes this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can count the days on one hand!!! Here’s a little layout of our travel plans:

March 24-27: Geneva, Switzerland with Eric, Clare and Kerri

March 27-29: Lyon with Clare and Kerri

April 3-10: Spring Break, Sarah’s here, Paris

April 11-18: Spring Break, Mom’s here, Italy

April 24-26: Madrid, Spain with Clare and Kerri

May 1-3: Prague, Czech Republic with Clare (tentatively)

After that we only have 2 weeks until the program is over and I think we’re going to Monaco and Cannes during the film festival. After that I plan to go to London, where I’ll meet Megan and we’re going to go to Greece and Rome. Needless to say, life is good and I have a pretty busy schedule. If anyone has any advice or suggestions about things to see in any of those places, please pass along your wisdom!

Merci Beaucoup!



Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Happy to be in Cassis

Emily N., Kerri, Me and Clare on the boat

The beautiful calanques!

Cassis and French Cooking

Alright... sorry for the delay in an update. There hasn't been too much going on here the last week. Just class and such. This last weekend was again pretty relaxing. On Saturday Clare, Kerri, Emily N and I went to Cassis, which is a small fishing village on the coast. We took the bus there, which took about an hour. The village was so cute. We were so lucky that it was an absolutely beautiful sunny day. We walked down to the water which was crystal clear. Because the weather was nice there were a ton of people out and about and the boat tours of Les Calanques were running. Les Calanques are the inlet cliffs that run between Marseille and Cassis. The tour we went on took us to 3 of them and they were absolutely breathtaking. It was really amazing. We weren't able to spend a ton of time in the town because we had to catch the bus back to Aix, but we were there for long enough to fall in love. I plan to take my mom there when she comes in April.

Sunday and Monday were just lazy days in Aix. It was a little rainy and cold so we didn't do too much.

Today I had class and then tonight some of us had a cooking class. There is a lady from Paris that comes down to her amazing apartment in Aix to teach foreign students French cooking. Tonight we made and then ate Terrine de Courgettes Concasse de Tomates (Zucchini and eggs baked on top of tomatos), Blanquette de Veau et son Riz Basmati (Veal cooked in white wine over rice) and Mousse au Chocolat. It was amazingly delicious and surprisingly easy to make. I have 3 more classes, so by the end of my time here I should be a pro. We ate the dinner and practiced our French and it was really nice to have something other than the stir-fries we've been making on our stove top. We don't have an oven, so we won't be able to make these recipes until we get home, but then I think I just might have to invite you all over for a French dinner party.

The week is of course flying by! Time seems to pass insanely quickly here. This weekend I think I'm going to go to Mont St Michel. I have a weekend on my Eurail pass that I need to use, and I've always wanted to go there, so that's the tentative plan. Less than 2 weeks until Eric gets here! I can't wait. I have a lot planned for us.

À Bientot!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Relaxing Weekend in Aix

Well, this weekend I was supposed to be going to Germany to visit my friend Dennis, but when I went to buy tickets last week it was too late. All of the trains to Paris (where I would have had to connect) were full due to the Paris vs Marseille soccer game on Sunday. So it ended up being just a relaxing weekend in Aix, which was actually very nice.

On Friday night some girls came over and we just hung out and had a good time. I haven't gotten out of bed before 11 the last two days, just spending my mornings reading my book in bed. I'm reading Julie and Julia right now, and it's really making me wish we had an oven so that I could Master the Art of French Cooking!

On Saturday night we had our weekly Pizza and Beer night with most of the people from our program. It's become a fun little tradition and a great way to make sure we all still see each other. We always end up playing a card game called Mafia, and this time we also played Big Booty, another game I had learned from Y2Y. It was a lot of fun! After lots of pizza and games we went out to some of the pubs, and made it home around 1AM.

Sunday was another lazy day. Kerri, Clare and I went to see Le Mac, which was the new action comedy film that just came out over here. It was a little hard to follow all of the dialogue. They were talking very fast and using a lot of French slang. But it was pretty funny, at least the parts that I did understand. There were several times that everyone in the theater would laugh and I would have no idea why! That night the 3 of us went out to dinner, and then watched The Big Lebowski, which I had never seen.

Today there's a little more on the agenda. We have a test in our Translation class tomorrow, so I guess I'd better study a bit. But the weather is starting to get really nice, so I think we're going to go study at a cafe in the sun! I'm so glad I don't have to wear my coat everywhere anymore!

I hope you're all doing well! Miss you!