Apologies for not posting this past week – I was busy with a writing assignment and an oral presentation so I didn’t have a chance to check in. You can expect two posts from me this week to make up for that!
And as for this past week: School will be school, and it definitely was. Lots of grammar exercises, essay writing and PowerPoint making made it not one of my favorite weeks thus far. On the other hand, the feeling one has after giving a ten-minute presentation (in French, of course) on a French novel that he or she read is so rewarding. What was even more rewarding, though, was the weekend trip I treated myself to afterwards!
My roommate, another friend of ours in the program and I spent our weekend visiting the lovely towns of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille in the Côte d’Azur region of Southern France. We stayed in an Airbnb in the center of Aix and spent the entire day there Saturday, and we traveled to Marseille on Friday as a daytrip to spend some time on the rocky shores of the Mediterranean under the sun. We took the TGV train to get to Aix; I’ve done my fair share of train travel, but this was the first time riding a train that goes 200 miles per hour! I highly recommend taking a weekend trip to the south of France solely because of the beautiful countryside that is visible throughout the entire train ride! The French countryside is incredibly mountainous and hilly, and is complete with cows and goats grazing on the intense greenery and casual medieval châteaux nestled in little clusters of forestry. If you stay awake and attentive to the views, you’ll even be able to catch a glimpse of some real lavender fields! And let me tell you – they give a whole new meaning to the color purple!
Our Airbnb in Aix was in a 19th century Napoleon-style apartment building. It almost had a haunted feel with the paint peeling off its grand double doors, its dimly lit foyer and its narrow, winding staircase. This was a perfect juxtaposition to the actual apartment – all white, modern yet maintaining its historical character and complete with large windows that opened above the main street. We may have been lucky to swing an Airbnb like this for just 40€ a night, but in a town as beautiful, hip and historical as Aix, I doubt they’ll be hard to find for a hopeful backpacker!
Marseille is a wonderful place to spend a day in the south of France, particularly if you’re craving a relaxing day à la plage. The beaches here tend to be rocky cliffs rather than sandy flatlands, but that means no sand following you around in your towel and backpack for the rest of the summer! Plus, sunbathing on a Mediterranean cliff is much more experiential than just lounging on typical sandy beach, right? If you’re feeling extra adventurous, attempt the walk to the Notre-Dame de la Garde Cathedral. It sits atop the city’s highest point and allows you to see a panoramic view of Marseille in its entirety. Don’t be deterred by the steep climb, though – it’s worth it!
Spending a day of leisure in Aix is also a must if you’re studying in France. The weather is perfect there – about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny everyday, with a nice breeze and plenty of shade to duck into. The city’s Cours Mirabeau is a lively main street complete with picturesque fountains, delicious cafés and hip shops and boutiques. You can get just about any flavor of gelato you could imagine on every corner, and you can indulge in a free jam tasting at La Chambre aux Confitures. Here you’ll find inventive and classic flavors alike of jams, honeys, caramels and chocolate spreads. And, the best part is that you get to try them all for free! Don’t let this trick you into thinking you’re getting a free snack, though – It’s impossible to leave this magical store without purchasing a jar or two for your friends and family back home to try.
Needless to say, this past weekend was truly a weekend spent in paradise. This coming weekend will be my last weekend abroad, so I plan to spend one of the days visiting the grand château in Versailles and the rest right here in Paris. Until then, here’s hoping that Paris can keep its weather staying warm and sunny!
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<p>Hi, there! My name is Sophia Raymond and I'm studying Public Relations and Marketing and Indiana University. Curiosity may be what killed the cat, but it's what fuels me! I'm a writer, designer, and visual arts creator, and I'm an absolute nerd for 20th century history (currently binge-watching CNN's Decade series). Usually, you can find me rock climbing, painting, or snuggling with my adorable Irish-doodle Sookie, but this summer I'll be studying abroad in Paris to further my French fluency and explore Europe! Life is a beautiful thing, and I plan on making the most of it.</p>