Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Weekend in Provence, France

University in France does not start until October, so each weekend my classmates from Wake Forest and our professor and I are going on weekend trips all over France!

Provence was the first trip!
We took a 5 hour bus ride through Lyon and the countryside until we entered the region of Provence, the south of France.

Our first stop was in the city of Orange at the ancient theater which is the most well preserved ancient Roman building in all of France. It holds 10,000 people.
It was literally 90 degrees out and in direct sunlight as we went on this very long and boring tour of the amphitheater. And to make things better, the tour was all in French! But my ability to understand and speak French has greatly improved even in the one week I have been living in France.

J Crew Factory navy blue bow tank | J Crew Factory pink linen shorts | Jack Roger Hampton sandals in Platinum | Tiffany pearl studs | RayBan classic aviators 

To cool off we ate some ice cream! At that little ice cream shop, I left behind my favorite J Crew denim jacket, and now it is no more! I was very sad to lose my favorite jacket, but I already found a very similar one from Mango that I know will do the same thing!

Our next stop was at the Pont de Garde which is a huge Roman aqueduct! It’s beautiful and in such amazing condition.
I would have loved to stay there longer but we had to get to our hotel in Arles, Hotel de Musée. It is right next to the river, le Rhône. I love being near the water! I forgot how relaxed and calm I feel when I am by the water.

We had dinner at La Plaza in Arles. I choose the duck risotto, and it was honestly the best meal I have had since I have been in France so far. It was so good, that we went back there Saturday night and I ate the exact same thing!

Friday was a busy day with lots of tours and sight-seeing.
Our first tour was at La Musée Départemental-Arles Antique, which is at the place where the horse race course was when the Romans lived in Arles, and now it is a beautiful garden.
This museum had great diagrams of all the ancient ruins and how they would have looked as fully reconstructed.
We saw the amphitheater, a boat, the horse racing course, and the bath houses in schematic form and then we went and saw the actual ruins on Saturday.

I got a really nice complement Friday night from a friend as we went bar hopping. She said she copied me with wearing neck scarves because I was the first one to wear them at Wake! What a trend-setter I am!!!

The following day we headed off to another Roman city, Nîmes.
We saw a mini coliseum or arena which holds 24,000 people. I really thought I was at the coliseum in Rome! (Click HERE to read all about my adventure in Rome). 
We learned that the best seats in the arena are at the lower level, and that the Roman Empire separated people by class. There even used to be a roof on the amphitheater. This amphitheater 
is made out of limestone and not marble, like Rome. There were also animal battles at this coliseum for entertainment but without any of the exotic animals like they had in Rome.
The arena in Nîmes is the best persevered amphitheater from the Roman Empire. Actually, in the 18th century they even put houses in the amphitheater!

During our walk around Nîmes we learned that the crocodile and the palm tree are the logos of the town.
The town hall, L’Hôtel de la Ville even has four stuffed crocodiles hanging from the ceiling! 

The next stop was La Maison Carée, which resembles the pantheon in Greece. It used to be a temple but now it is a movie theater.

We then stopped at the gardens, which aren’t really gardens but rather dirt paths, with the source of the water for the whole city. It was amazing, and I have never seen a garden like that where all they have is fresh water. In the gardens is a temple, which was a library and had inscriptions on the walls.

It is crazy how vast the Roman Empire was and how there are still amazing remains from the Empire to this day.

After a long day of tours, our professor kindly canceled our following tours for the next day in another city because once you’ve seen one ruin, you’ve seen them all!

For our 2ndnight in Provence we ate dinner at La Criquet. It is very highly reviewed and ranked on Trip Advisor, but I was not a fan of the Mediterranean restaurant.
I guess I also didn’t like it because there was a set menu for our large party of 16. I had the fish without a choice, and I usually love fish, but this fish was not my cup of tea. But the chocolate cake and rosé were delicious!

We found an Irish pub for drinks after dinner before heading to bed.

The following day was so nice because we were able to explore the city on our own.
We started off at the open air market which was so fun and I treated myself to a silly but very pretty gold bangle with the words “je suis une princesse.” Which if you know me really well then you would know how perfect this bracelet is for me. I saw it and started cracking up, so I had to have it. It makes me so happy whenever I look down at my wrist.
I also bought some lavender sachets, which is what Provence is probably best known for. 

It was extremely chilly on Saturday. The wind was howling, and I would have loved to have my denim jacket with me.

My friends and I hopped from church to church and the cloisters and saw some of the art exhibits from the art festival that was going on in Arles.
There was one exhibit all about a dog by William Wegman, and another all about fake buildings and buildings that do not match their surroundings.

We also passed through the bath house, which was right next to our hotel.

We went for lunch, did some window shopping, ate some lavender flavored ice cream, which was a little too weird for me and visited Les Alyscamps which is a cemetery where all the tombs are above the ground.
There was even an abandoned church that my friend, Keru, also a singer from Concert Choir and who also went to Spain with me (click HERE to read all about my adventure in Spain) and I sang some notes in.

We returned to La Plaza for another amazing dinner and went to bed early!

On the way back to Dijon, for our first test on Monday, we stopped in another city, Lyon for lunch!
We ate lunch at the famous Brasserie George. It’s a huge restaurant whos founder is famous for making beer in Lyon!

It was an amazing weekend!
I can’t believe I get school credit for traveling all over France!
Can I do this for the rest of my college career?
Oui? Merci!
Next stop: Bourgogne!


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Explore Dijon With Me!

These past two days I have been exploring my new home, Dijon France!

We took a tour yesterday around Dijon and got to see all of the highlights of our new little town!

Here is a little virtual tour!

There is Le Brunch in Les Halles which is like a market and buffet lunch.
This is where we went for lunch yesterday.

J Crew Factory navy blue bow tank | J Crew Factory blue cotton wrap skirt | Jack Rogers Hampton sandals in platinum | Tiffany pearl studs | RayBan Wayfarers | Longchamp le Pliage shopping tote

There is the Jardin Darcy which is a cute little park with a statue of a polar bear and a fountain.

The park is right across from a little baby Arch de Triomph, la Porte Guillaume.

Notre Dame is one of the cathedrals in town.

The big palace is the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. Who would’ve thought that I would live in a town with a castle?!

For dinner last night our whole group went to our professor’s apartment. It is a beautiful apartment overlooking the city. When I think of a French apartment, that is what I think of!

This morning we had leisure time to have breakfast on our own, do homework (unfortunately) and explore a bit.
We ate lunch at Flunch, a cafeteria by our professor’s apartment.

We went to the bank, visited the Cathedral de Saint Benigne and took a moment to reflect before having a guided tour of the Museum of Archeology.

My fluency in French is definitely improving very quickly. 
When I was at Wake the past semesters and speaking French every day or so, I felt very fluent and like the language came very natural to me, however, since it has been four months since I have spoken French it has been a bit hard to get back into it.
But, we had free time for dinner tonight, so three of my friends and I found a cute restaurant next to la Porte Guillaume and spoke in French for the entire dinner!
I felt so confident speaking French and I know my confidence will only continue to grow.

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