After almost a week here, we have become accustomed to the new language, new region, new time zone, and hot climate. We have been exploring Aix, and the regions around it, nonstop.
We started the trip off with a bang by getting to see the Tour de France as it made its way around the famous “La Rotonde”. It was such a surreal experience. France is so passionate about this tradition, because it allows people to view the vast country from their homes, and it was amazing to be a part of it.
Friday we went to Marseille in the afternoon. Marseille is a beautiful city by the Mediterranean that has a denser population than Aix with a more city like feel. We took pictures by the water and ate “la navet”, a very sweet biscuit-like bread shaped like a boat. The employer at the store told us the interesting history of the creation “la navet”. We then walked up an extremely long staircase to get to a church in Marseille. Once we got to the top, we forgot about our sore feet and sweaty faces as we saw the most beautiful view. We could see the Mediterranean sea along with the classic old Marseille buildings. We went to dinner at a Moroccan restaurant to coincide with the Moroccan theme of the night. We saw Moroccan acrobats do skilled flips and tricks while listening to classic Moroccan music.
On Saturday, we shopped at the fresh market that only comes every few days for a picnic at the park. People bought all different types of sausage, cheese, bread, and fruit. We then went to a swimming pool, which was a nice great due to the hot weather. Our first cooking groups started that night. Each group made pasta with cheese and caprese salad. It was a very nice way to get to know people besides your roommate!
Sunday we spent the whole day in Arles, the city of Van Gogh. It is a beautiful, antique ville with amazing decorations. We were in awe at the beauty and intricacy of the buildings and the layout of the town. Their photography festival falls during this time of the year; there are painting posters all over the walls and different exhibitions everywhere. We went through about four different art exhibitions that were very beautiful and different. Then we were allowed to split off and either go see more art exhibits or go to an ancient coliseum and theater. They were both in ruins, and we were able to see a picture of the ancient buildings when they were new. The difference in the height and intricacy is fascinating to take note of. The view from the coliseum was spectacular!
We then went to dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant. Everyone tried new and different foods last night, especially duck dishes. On the way home, we had a fun karaoke competition. Sam won with his rendition of “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber.
We have had a fabulous time discovering and exploring Aix and its neighboring cities, and it will be exciting to start our classes and electives tomorrow!