It really goes too fast. We are ready to go to Monaco, our last organized trip within the program (you will read about it in my next blog probably), but for now, let’s get ourselves current with the events from the South of France.
It is really challenging that we are learning to juggle homework, study and, at the same time, absorb all of the culture and experience that this side of the planet is offering us, while practicing our French. For a non-native French speaker, there is such joy when you go to a little store or restaurant, or take the bus, and are able to communicate in their language, and every once in a while, they tell you: “Your French is really good.” You really want to ask them: “Can you put that in writing?” – so my teachers can see that I am making them proud!
Enough of self appreciation. We had a fantastic weekend, and as you see in the following paragraphs, we were busy trying to absorb and admire as much as we could. We went to “La Provence profonde” - or at least one of the professors calls it that. What she meant probably is that we were in the deep part of Provence, where time really stops and you wish you could just stay there and live.
Our first stop was Les Baux de Provence. A ruined château with fragments of walls and towers still standing greeted us as we arrived. It also provided us with a breathtaking view over the Alpilles. This place attracts a lot of tourists year after year. It is such a nostalgic experience visiting this medieval city.
After our great walk in Les Baux, we went to Arles. Arles is famous for its “Arena” (amphitheater), mainly because Van Gogh took up residence here. He painted numerous paintings in Arles, and it is also where he chopped off his earlobe.
Our next stop was “Le Pont du Gard,” where it stands as a testimony to the Roman empire, an aqueduct built in the 1st century AD, and it is still standing. It was a very short visit, but we took great pictures to brag about.
We arrived to Avignon around 7 p.m, enough time to get in our hotel and go around this beautiful Provencal town in “le midi.” The next day (Sunday), we had a guided visit to “Le Palais des Papes,” which the Popes built in the 14th century to rule the Roman Catholic Church from here, Avignon, France.
The palace really is two palaces: The old one built by Benoît XII and the new one built by Clément VI, which now are connected by a beautiful courtyard that hosts the Festival d’Avignon every July.
Our last stop was to a winery, so on this occasion I am going to talk a little bit about wine more than food, and of course the winery that we visited.
We went to the “Domaine de la Solitude,” where the owner told us a little bit about the story of their winery, which had been in their family now for several generations – and among their family they have counted two cardinals and 1 pope. He also told us the story of the region and the numerous recognitions that their wines have obtained. They have some wines that are classified as Châteauneuf du Pape, which we learned is a very prestigious recognition within the French wines.