It is already the 2nd week, and I know all of you are anxiously waiting for my update, so here it goes. We (the students) are realizing that study abroad requires a lot more dedication and stamina than the classes back at home. We have to balance classes, homework, study time, and yes, every once in a while, washing clothes and dishes; all of this in the midst of living in the South of France and everything it has to offer. Tough job, I know, but someone has to do it. This past Saturday we went to three different sites (since we have to write a report about them, I hope this counts!): Antibes, St. Paul-de-Vence and Vence.
Antibes is a small Mediterranean town with a really big harbor, boutiques, restaurants, bistros and a marvelous marché Provençal. People who live in France walk to the market almost every day to buy fresh produce and seem to live a more relaxed life than the one we live back in the United States.
One of the most visited places in Antibes is the Grimaldi Castle. This castle housed Pablo Picasso from September to November 1946, where he created some of his most known works, among them: “La Joie de Vivre.” When Picasso left, he donated all the work he had created during his stay, this now being one of his most important collections.
Our second stop was St. Paul-de Vence, at the Foundation Maeght, another museum (and we did roll our eyes, because who wanted this much culture in the first week?). We were told that after we finished the museum, we were free to go to the village but had to be back at 4 p.m. Come on; it was only 12:20! Well, since we are such a great SMU students, off we went, and voilà, we were showcased with one of the world’s greatest collections of modern and contemporary art in harmony with nature. It was an amazing experience being surrounded by different techniques and expressions of art.
As we approached the village, our hearts started to jump a little faster as we entered this medieval French town, just like the one you might have pictured in your mind (except for the tons of tourists). You have to give credit to the city of St. Paul: despite the avalanche of people, we were still in awe of this charming town, the boutiques, the 64 art galleries, the souvenir shops and a downtown where they are still playing “pétanque.”
Finally, we visited Vence, which is very important because it is the home of the Chapelle du Rosaire. In 1941, Henri Matisse moved to Vence, where the town’s Dominican sisters nursed him back to health. In gratitude, he designed a chapel that is majestic in her simplicity. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but if you have the opportunity to visit the South of France, Vence should definitely be on your itinerary.
I couldn’t finish this blog without talking a little bit about food, but it is not going to be French cuisine, per se, but Chinese cuisine with a French twist. Yes, I bought Chinese food, but since I am in France, the portions are small, one entrée does not feed 2 and you still have leftovers; but it was good, and of course expensive: 7.40 euros for rice and chicken and a little bit of soy sauce. What I love about this country is it is very ecologically conscious, not because it is the móde, but because it is the way we should all think. Look back at the picture, and notice the containers are not styrofoam, and they have no lids (less waste), instead, they seal every container with shrink plastic.
À tout à l’heure!