I say week nineteen, but only one day of the week was spent entirely in France. After packing my cases and doing everything else that was left to do, I spent time with friends before the inevitable ‘au revoir’. It was an enjoyable (but slightly sad) day that consisted of drinking tea (in both the afternoon and in the evening), visiting a tapestry museum, trying a German dish at the university residence thanks to a friend, and going to some bars for a few final drinks. I have to say that my stay in Aix-en-Provence has been an amazing and invaluable experience with memories that I will never forget, and I am grateful that I have been able to visit these nice places. Thankyou for reading my blog – I hope you found it interesting!
It seemed to be a week for festivals! First I attended the ‘Arts et Festins du Monde’ festival in Gardanne along with some friends. We had a great time trying food (like ‘lulas recheadas’) and drink (like ‘Ti’punch’) from all over the world and dancing along to the live Taarab music. Then there was the sixty-seventh ‘Festival de Cannes’, which was buzzing with people who were either dressed up to the nines, wearing a lanyard round their neck, or holding a camera in their hand. There was a ‘bonne ambiance’, and although we didn’t spot any famous film stars, we got to see people rolling out the red carpet.
I thought I would take the opportunity to discover ‘la culture Tropézienne’. Saint Tropez is known for its port with all of the fancy yachts, but this week there was an invasion of motorbikes as there was a parade taking place as part of a festival. We managed to make our way through the busy and very noisy streets, passing all of the little boutiques, and we went to the market which sells soap, swimsuits and lavender-scented products among other things. Later, we went to Cap Taillat, a nice ‘plage’ with a coastal path. My lasting impression of Saint Tropez? Pleasant (if you ignored the overwhelming sound of motorbikes) but busy and difficult to get around (although this may have been due to the motorbikes). It was a different experience and I’m really glad I was able to visit.
At the weekend, some friends and I went on an organised trip to the ‘Gorges du Verdon’. To begin, we headed for Vinon-sur-Verdon and visited the village market. After, we went to the artificial reservoir, ‘Lac de Sainte Croix’, and took a ride on a pedalo, which allowed us to pass through the gorges (it is apparently the most beautiful Canyon in Europe). It was great fun, and I was really impressed by all the geographical formations and the vibrant colour of the water! Next, we visited Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a ‘commune français’ known for its ‘faïence’, its chapel (Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir), and the gold star which looks down on the village. To finish, we made a stop at the ‘plateau de Valensole’ where lavender grows, although it was too early in the year to see it in all its purple glory. I was shattered by the end of the day but it definitely was worth it to see so many pretty places!
Seeing as classes have now finished for the semester I thought I would visit home for a wee bit. When I arrived back in Scotland it felt kind of strange, with little things like crossing the road and using different money … and at first I was almost doing a double-take every time I heard a Scottish accent. Nevertheless, it was great to return to Airdrie for the first time in over three months and see family and friends.
It was my birthday this week and I was lucky enough to celebrate it in France with some great people. The evening before, we sat outside at one of our favourite bars and everyone sang ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’, before eating some birthday cake (two cakes which had very wind-resistant candles). On the actual day, I ended up having a picnic in the park with some friends to make the most of the nice springtime weather in Aix. I very much enjoyed ‘mon anniversaire français’!
It has been a very important week for culture in Aix-en-Provence with the ‘Festival de Bande Dessinée’ and the Carnaval. At the weekend I visited some interesting comic book exhibitions and saw some amusing short films, and on the Saturday evening there was a confetti-filled procession with an underwater theme, which was really ‘impressionnant’. It was as if the town had transformed into a giant aquatic scene, where the sky was the sea, and the trees of the Cours Mirabeau were seaweed. There were people dressed as sea creatures, and lots of inflatable creations which together told the story of a ‘lost pearl’. I really felt lucky to be present at these events.
When I found out there was a trip to Barcelona being organised I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity! I had visited the magical city before during the winter and had an amazing time, so it was great to go back and see it in a different light. We managed to do a lot of sight-seeing, passing by all the wonderful creations of Antoni Gaudí, but made sure we had enough energy at the end of the day to experience the nightlife. Our last day was spent chilling at the beach and I really could not have asked for nicer weather. ¡M’encanta Barcelona!
I went to Marseille for the third time since arriving in France, and this time my friends and I visited ‘le massif des Calanques’, with a journey made up of a bus, ‘le métro’, another bus, and a bit of walking. What we saw of ‘Les Calanques’ was impressive. The colour of the limestone is ‘magnifique’ against the greenery and the blue of the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s a landscape which is quite unique. I think there are numerous people who agree with this, because the place was filled with hikers and visitors of all ages.
So it turns out the weather wanted to mix things up a little bit. We started the week with talk of going to the beach, but as time went on we realised this was not for happening. Still we managed to have some good nights out in Aix, and on Saturday afternoon, a friend and I braved the rain and took a bus to the outskirts of town to visit the giant ‘supermarché’. We had fun browsing through the DVDs to see the interesting translations of film titles, walked down the aisles to look at things we didn’t need (like fridges), and experienced the general hustle and bustle of shopping on a Saturday. A true cultural experience.