It's Time to Get to Know France

Sabrina Kennelly
January 25, 2015

This weekend, I had the chance to get to know France a bit more. Curtsey of IES Paris French Studies, my classmates and I got to travel to the South of France for a three day trip to Nimes, Domaine, Aigue Mortes, and Avignon. I've never traveled to the south of France before so I found this journey to be very entertaining. We left for Nimes on Thursday morning bright and early before the sun (or even the pigeons for that matter) decided to appear. I love trains. I’ve been on long rides and have enjoyed glancing out the window staring at the country side from a distance. I found it very peculiar how at one moment the towns would be covered in snow, and then all of a sudden full of lushes green grass. It amazed me to see the diversity of greenery and landscape in France. It was yet another reminder of how majestic France can be with unexpected surprises awaiting every other corner. Here is a quick play-by-play of what we did this weekend in the Sud de la France. Get ready to brush up on your history people! 1)Nimes Here in Nimes we visited les Arènes and the Maison Carrée. Nimes is known to have fabulous roman architecture. It literally made me breathless to see a coliseum and large monuments pop up in the middle of a bustling city. It’s important to note that as large and beautiful as les Arènes are, that people died (at times) for purely entertainement. As a communication major, I had never thought about how entertainment values could have started before modern technology. After visiting les Arènes, I know have found a different perspective on how to perceive leisure and to be entertained. On a lighter note, our group also visited Magne: a beautiful garden in Nimes where you could hike to the top and see a lovely scenic view of the town. I’m a huge fan of public parks, especially ones that are full of lovely architecture surrounded by natural elements. I found this hike to be very peaceful compared to the hustle and bustle of my beloved Paris. It was great to just get a breath of fresh air. 2)Domain de Méjanes In the middle of the south of France our group saw a horse and bull show (they were separate and not together). I’ve never seen a show like this before. I was a bit hesitant to go see this show because of how animals are treated in the US when it comes to rodeo shows. I tried to come with a fresh and positive mind about the show that we were going to see. I was relieved to hear that the animals at the place were treated well. I also had to put into account that how animals are treated (unfortunately- for the better or for the worst) will vary depending on where you are regionally and as a whole. I found this town to be welcoming and educational by allowing us to see different aspects of their culture. 3)Avignon Here, we went and saw the Palais du Pape (the pope’s palace). As someone who is fascinated by architecture and religion, I found it absolutely fascinating to visit this place. I am always baffled to see how far man-kind will go (especially with lack of technology) in order to build masterpieces in honor for their god(s). You can tell that many people put in hard work in order to make Avignon an epicenter for Christianity. Of course, when I heard that there was a shopping area on Rue de la Répulique, I had to go and find the nearest Zara in town. What can I say? I’m a sucker for some European fashion. But don’t worry folks, I saw the pont d’Avignon and skipped around too while singing its infamous song  What I learned about going to the South of France 1) It can be hella cold-and windy: I naively brought my bathing suit with me (I’m blushing while typing this because I’m so ashamed) because I assumed that the south would be hot. Kinda like Florida. This was not the case. Paris was actually warmer than the south of France while we were gone. For you girls that think that your hair is going to stay the same throughout the day in the south: this is not the case. Be ready for your hair to go in every direction possible. But, really, what can you do? C’est la vie! 2)Accents: Just like the South in the US, the natives in the South of France have an accent. I can’t really pinpoint with words how to describe their accents (their a’s and o’s are pronounced differently from what it sounds like). I was flattered to hear from a server that I sounded like a Parisian when I was in the south #scored. This is literally my dream come true 3)Use cafés to your advantage Unlike the US, you can sit at a café for hours without seeming rude and take your time. With the weather being cold and windy, sitting in a café was great to do. It allowed us to have some great conversations and really get to know the people around us. I recommend to anyone that if they are bored to go into a café, and read a book, people watch, or write. You really have an endless amount of possibilities at cafés here in France without feeling like you are a bother. 4)Water I’ve noticed that drinking water isn’t as big of a thing here in France. Fortunately I brought a water bottle with me. It will be harder to find public fountains but remember that staying hydrated is good- especially when you have a full day scheduled of sightseeing 5)Public Restrooms In the south this was really not a thing. So if you’re going to follow tip #4 be aware of how much water you drink, and where the nearest restroom is. McDonalds in the US is known to have public restrooms. Naturally I thought this would be in the case in France. This is not true. McDonalds had a scary security guard that told me that in order to pee, I had to buy something. Yes, there is a security guard for McDonalds. I did not cave in and waited to find a public restroom. Follow the brown signs and you’ll be good as gold, just know that it may take a while (and a lot of asking) before you find a bathroom. Also, be ready to have change on hand because not all public bathrooms are free. (?) 6)Paris is home: Halfway through the trip, I started to refer to Paris as home. I know that this would probably kill my parents (metaphorically of course) if they heard me refer to Paris this way. At the end of the day (and fortunate because I’m spending the next three months here), I feel at home here. During my trip in the South, I became more and more excited to get back to the hustle and bustle of Paris. The question of “what am I going to do?” in a small town does not exists here in Paris.

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Sabrina Kennelly

<div>&nbsp; &nbsp;My name is Sabrina Kennelly. Currently, I am majoring in French and Communication Studies with a certificate in International Journalism. My interests include journalism, learning foreign languages, communication studies, social media, photography, and of course traveling!&nbsp;</div>

2015 Spring
Home University:
Hamline University
French Language
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