Closing down the blog…
Turns out that I was the only blogger this Winter Term, but that just means that the students had more interesting ways to use their time (and more power to them!).
Tomorrow we’ll all be up bright and early to catch our plane to Paris, then Atlanta, and finally Tampa. France has been lots of fun, but it’s always nice to come home.
Ce n’est qu’un au revoir…
Thursday night and all of Friday left in France. Our plane to Paris takes off at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and our trip home will begin.
We came, we sang, we suffered…Music lesson today with Jérémie. I’m tone deaf, but I managed to belt out some songs. But it was a little tough for everyone to sing without knowing either the tune or the pronunciation of the words. Jérémie did his best to guide us along on our musical journey, but I think we got lost somewhere along the way. Meanwhile, he was playing guitar, harmonica, drums and accordion, and singing, too. It was fun enough just to watch him!
Today we had a full-day excursion to Avignon. Saw the famous bridge, what’s left of it, at least. Extensive visit of the Papal Palace. And because we had a nun in our tour group, we had special access to a room in the cathedral where all the old vestments and ceremonial objects are kept. Avignon has a very good vibe, but it’s less evident in the winter than in the summer. Montpellier, on the other hand, feels like home no matter what the weather is like. Just watch where you put your feet. (BTW, our guide said the city is in the process of addressing the doggie problem.)
Today we had a cooking class with a chef named Valérie, who showed us how to make risotto with coconut milk and chicken skewers. It was yummy and not too hard to do. Though as Valérie said, good food requires patience…not the easiest thing for young Americans. Good class, good food, good company and Harry discovered that little dogs can be scary…
Saturday we went to another fascinating old city called Arles. We saw what remains of a Roman arena and a theater. It’s just amazing that they are still around. We also visited a very small town, Saintes Maries de la mer, that is the site of pilgrimages to honor Marie Salomé and Marie Magdalene, who are thought to have landed there after Christ’s crucifixion. Gypsies also do a yearly pilgrimage there to honor Saint Sarah, their patron.
And then we drank some regional wine (just a taste!).
Sunday we rested.
Afternoon excursion to a medieval town situated in the middle of salt marshes, the site of lots of fighting in religious battles (Catholics vs. Cathars; Catholics vs. Protestants) and political ones, too (100 Years’ War = Brits vs. French). Apparently, after killing the British knights, the French could not bury them in the ground, so they stacked them in a tower and salted them to keep them from rotting. Good times…
It was interesting to see tractors driving up hills of salt, native bulls and horses…Fabulous weather, wonderful visit of the ramparts, cookie sampling and buying and then a quick trip to the Mediterranean beach for the sunset. AND a singing and guitar playing guide to make the return trip go faster.
We had a group lunch today at a crêperie…Enough said!
We arrived safely to unseasonably chilly temperatures…Seems like we can’t get away from them! The students are safely and warmly ensconced in their host homes, where they are apparently eating delicious food. Placement test and first classes today, followed by a guided visit of the town. Lots of history and narrow winding streets with hidden cafés and boutiques. So many discoveries to make, so little time!