Chapitre 23: Peddle Boating in Les Gorges du Verdon, France

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No words can describe this beauté that is uniquely carved between two départementsAlpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var.

 

The rivière in the canyon spans over 33 km

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and the sommets of the montagnes can be as high as 2,819 m.

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Les Gorges du Verdon is considered the largest canyon in Europe

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It is also listed as part of a UNESCO world geopark.

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5 Raisons to Experience Les Gorges du Verdon by Peddle Boat:

  • It’s a Gorge. 3What more is there to say, really?
  • It offers bold, green water. 4There’s no better way to experience this belle water than to peddle boat in it! 3
  • It’s relaxing. 4The Gorges du Verdon has a way of removing the stresses of daily life and then transporting touristes to paradis! Peddle boating only adds to this relaxation in paradis ideal as it offers touristes a way to vue the canyon from the water in a more relaxing way than in a kayak, for exemple.Sure, peddling may seem tough, but it’s actually quite calming when surrounded by 33 km of incredible limestone rock and sediment. 1
  • It’s got caves! 6It wouldn’t be a true gorges without at least 1 cave….5Many are too small for humains to enter, but they sure do photographe well from the peddle boat!
  • The Gorges is easy to photographe from the peddle boat. 2 There’s no need to fret if your camera is not water-proof because peddle boating is a relaxing ride on the water!

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It may have been a rainy day during my first trip to the Gorges du Verdon, but that didn’t stop the beauté of the gorges from beaming down on us (and even blinding us at times). ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 22: Climbing through the Château in the Comte of Monte Cristo in Marseille, France

Marseille: “C’est sale” (It’s dirty).

Marseille: “It’s The ville (city) of pick-pocketers.”

Marseille: “C’est une ville effrayante” (scary).

These are just a few anecdotes out of all that we were told before making our first memorable trip to Marseille (during my study abroad in Aix in 2012).

Still, these stories and opinions didn’t prevent us from going!

After all, it wasn’t everyday we had the chance to visite a château,

so, we jumped on the Navette and prayed we wouldn’t look like easy targets.

5 Raisons to Comb Through the Château d’If in Marseille:

  • It’s on an îleThe only way to get to the château is by ferry (payant, bien-sûr!). Here’s one way to take a step back in time: (ignoring the moderne ferry ride) Once stepping foot on the île, take the prisonniers walk. 
  • It was a prison. There’s nothing like embracing the past through prison walls marked by anciens prisonniers…and it’s prisonniers mythiques as well. For exemple, Edmond Dantès was contained at d’If in Le Comte de Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas’ (1844). Dumas’ novel gained enormous succès: It was translated around the world and adaptés and/or inspirés into 23 films. There’s even a salle in the château dedicated to these adaptations and stories. 
  • There’s an echo spot on the roof. With easy access to the roof, this spot is a must-try!
  • It’s free for personnes ages 25 and under. Other free tarifs: Passe Éducation (aka TAPIF assistants), Personnes handicapées and his/her accompagnateur, Carte Culture, Carte ICOM, and unemployed personnes with an Attestation from Pôle Emploi (the unemployment agency).
  • There’s a café. First of all, this is France. There Should be a café (it was expected); if there wasn’t, I’d have been déçue. Secondly, there’s no better way to enjoy a glass of vin before the ferry arrives than in front of a Château Médiéval.

QUICK: Practical Information:

  • Ferry costs: 10.80€/round trip (Vieux Portd’If and vice-versa) – Ferry hours for Frioul-If Express (weather permitting) can be found here.
  • Château costs: 5.50€/regular entrée, 4,50€ reduced entrée, free (as previously mentioned) for 25 or younger, Passe ÉducationPersonnes handicapées and his/her accompagnateur, Carte Culture, Carte ICOM, and unemployed personnes with an Attestation from Pôle Emploi (the unemployment agency).
  • Château hours: (weather permitting)  2 Janvier – 3 Avril 10:00-17:00 (daily); 4 Avril – 2 Octobre 10:00-18:00 (daily); 3 Octobre – 21 Décembre 10:00-17:00 (closed on Monday’s)

Le Château d’If isn’t the only thing to do in Marseille.

There’s also the Vieux Port,

The Porte d’Aix,

and the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde

– just to name a few…

Marseille is no Aix, but it certainly has quite a lot to offer touristes – juste don’t forget to make a climb up the Château d’If! ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 21: Déception in Saint-Tropez, France

Saint-Tropez was an excursion that I took during my studies in Aix.

I had heard so much about Saint-Tropez that when the possibilité of a trip to the ville halted in front of me, I jumped on the occasion to go!

Although I was highly déçue with how little this ville had to offer (it was small, there wasn’t a lot of activités, and the plage (beach) wasn’t crowded at all – I know this should be a plus, but I heard that hoards of vacationers flock to this place…I guess it was off saison?), I was pleased to spend some time basking beneath the soleil.

5 Raisons to Challenge my Déception of Saint-Tropez:

  • The Citadel de Saint-Tropez. It’s quite the hike to the Citadel, but the vue is worth it! 
  • The marché. While my friends and I were taking in the sights and sounds of this petite ville, we came across an Art Deco marché. Certainement, each ville has its fruits/vegetable marché – but, it’s not every day you see an Art Deco marché!
  • Le PortThe port in Saint-Tropez is full of riche-looking yachts, sailboats, and small fishing boats.
  • Église de Notre-Dame de l’AssomptionYou can see its gorgeously warm-colored tour almost anywhere in Saint-Tropez (even at the top of the Citadel). 
  • La Maison des Papillons. Most villes, including Saint-Tropez, have a Musée d’Art/Histoire; however, Saint-Tropez also has a Butterfly Musée!

Saint-Tropez was nothing like I imaginé: It didn’t take long to walk the entire ville – thus, there wasn’t a whole lot to do, either.

But, it’s quite pretty to admire.

Between the volets violets,

and its proximité the côte,

I managed to find some magique to the ville. ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 20: Parfait Scents of Lavande in Eze, France

Eze welcomed me with fresh scents of lavande…but not the kind that you find outdoors.

An ancienne machine used for juicing the aroma from flower pétales.

No, this lavande was from a parfum factory: Fragonard.

After a lovely tour at Fragonard and some parfum and soap purchases,

I décidé to visite the rest of the village.

It was quite a hike to get from Fragonard to the centre-ville,

but we made it!

It was definitely worth the climb!

5 Raisons to Soak up the Lavande in Eze:

  • Fragonard (duh!). This parfumerie offre an exciting tour in many langues – including Anglais (English) – of the factory: It’s histoire, it’s opération and production, as well as an explication of the Nez (Noses) are included on this tour.
  • La mer. Eze is a coastal village! There’s no better way to enjoy the Méditerranée than relaxing on a plage (beach) within reach of wonderful scents of parfum.
  • La Cité Médiévale. Eze was an ancien village Médiévale. Today, ruines of the château can still be seen! 
  • La Grande Corniche. La Corniche (roads made from the montagne cliffs) is composed of 3 routes that lead into the Méditerranée; La Grande Corniche is the most famous of the 3 – and it just happens to make an apparence in Eze. It was even featured in a car chase scène in the James Bond film, Golden Eye!
  • L’Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption d’Èze. This quaint, charmante église not only boasts of 18th century architecture but it also offre belles vues of the mer.

Eze may be a village but it’s a Must-See for fans of architecture Médiévale (and parfum, bien-sûr!)!

When in Eze, don’t forget to make some time in-between the parfum and the Médiévale ruines to enjoy the côte. ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 19: A Day of Soleil and a Yellow Submarine in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Ah, the next stop on my Study Abroad aventures: Monte-Carlo, Monaco.

It’s no doubt that the petit principauté,

situé off the coast of the Méditerranée and France, is cher; however, it’s also quite beau and inviting…especially when there’s a free outdoor Beatles tribute expo at the time you’re there:

“We all live in a yellow submarine…”

“In an octopus’ garden…”

With its narrow, propre rues

and it’s Palais de Monaco,

Monte-Carlo is a fabulous ville for any touriste (P.S. there are quite a few free things to do, too)!

5 Raisons to Spend 1 Day in Monte-Carlo:

  • The changing of the guard. This free event happens at 11:55am. The guards are so well kept together that I couldn’t help but wonder if they were just a spectacle for the touristes ou if they’ve actually been préparées for combat (Monaco is quite peaceful, so…).
  • Le Jardin Exotique. With its sculptures…and plantes exotiques as well as its wildlife, this jardin lives up to its nom: Exotique! Not only does the jardin offre these exotiques sites, but it also offre a belle vue of the port and the coast of Monaco! Add the belle histoire that is told through its sculptures of sailors…and Andromeda, and voilà! You’ve got the parfait free “attraction”.
  • Musée Océanographique. Although this musée can cost anywhere from 11€-16€ for adultes (depending on low-mid-high saison), it’s a fantastic way to spend a few scorching hours out of the heat.
  • Le port. Monte-Carlo offre a vue magnifique of the Méditerranée!
  • Le Casino de Monte-Carlo. Whether you gamble or not, this casino is a must-see! Its Belle Époque architectural style and, not to mention, all of the films its appeared in give this casino a unique touche…Definitely worth a glass of wine pamplemousse (it’s not everyday you see grapefruit juice on the menu)! You’re sure to feel like royauté once you see the first fountain! 

Monte Carlo is a petite ville, which makes it great for a day (and/ou soirée) trip

– I suggest hitting up the fameuse ville during  your trip to Nice (the villes are only a 30-minutes car ride away from each-other). ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 18: Nothing but Nifty Beaches and Musées in Nice, France

Nice was the first séjour during my study abroad expérience in Aix.

I was hypnotisée from the moment I stepped foot on the pebble plage, or beach.

Sure, it wasn’t the most plage idéale, but it was a nifty one!

After walking down the plage, I found myself on the Quai des États-Unis:

But, I wasn’t in Nice just for their plages

I also went to the marché

and I enjoyed a culture spectacle

while I was admiring some bonbons

and debating whether or not to buy some dried tomates!

As I embraced this Baroque ville,

I took avantage of the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine: I toured churches, palais, and musées that were not normalement ouverts au public.

Chapelle de la Miséricorde (no intérieur photos allowed)

It was an amazing, un-photographed expérience.

(Except, the extérieur…)

But, my Nice-acquisition-de-l’histoire didn’t stop at these belle places, I also entrée in Palais Lascaris (the only one that allowed photographie – sans flash, bien-sûr!).

  

5 Raisons to Hurt Your Pieds Walking on a Plage in Nice:

  • The water is crystal claire!

There’s no better way to relax your sore pieds than taking a dip in the claire water!

  • The vue!

The vue of Nice from the plage is breathtaking!

  • A lot of plage, few people. 

I guess a pebble plage doesn’t attract as many (there are still touristestouristes like a sable plage, thus leaving you with plenty of rock to soak up the soleil!

The pebble plages are naturelles: The pebbles are washed down and deposited from the Var and Paillon Rivières/Fleuves – an activité that has been in place for eons.

  • Pic-nique free of sable!

Ever get tired of finding sable in your sandwich? Ou worse, not being able to tell if it’s sel (salt), or sable mixed in with your chips? A pebble plage will let you eat in paix!

  • Calming vagues (waves).

If you like surfing, then Nice is not for you. However, if you’re up for a nice relaxing stroll on the pebbles or a nice relaxing dip in the water, then Nice is definitely for you!

Soaking up the soleil with some lavande ou olive noir (ou stracciatella) flavored gelato is my kind of idée of a vacance université outing.

Add the gorgeous volets…

and, bien-sûr, the musées, palais, and churches for a bit of fun hors du soleil and voilàThe parfait vacance! ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.

Chapitre 17: Abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France

Finalement, the first chapitre out of the States!

In automne 2012, I studied abroad.

“Bienvenue en France!” Screamed everyone at the université.

But, really it was the pain au chocolat who welcomed me the most!

And, not to mention the crêpes,

the pizza,

A slice of pizza from Pizza Capri.

the gelato,

A cornet de Macaron flavored gelati from EM Edouard et Maelle.

and the 6 course meals (WOA, Gourmande!).

Aix was is the most belle ville I(‘ve) lived in.

With its cathédrale,

La Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur

old buildings,

stone sculptures,

fountains,

narrow streets,

Cézanne,

musique that can be found everywhere,

yearly-changing sculptures…I could go on forever.

It’s one raison why I live here, today.

Le Musée des Tapisseries

5 Raisons to Study Abroad in Aix:

  • Parcs. There’s no better way to read Maupassant than while lounging on the grass at Parc Jourdan ou even Parc Rambot ou Pavillon Vendôme ou…any parc (I could go on all day). The parcs are also a great way to save money on le déjeuner (lunch): bring a sandwich, cookies, vin, and voilà; you’ve got an affordable and delicious déj.

  • Crêpes à Gogo. The North is well known for their amazing crêpes, but some deliciously affordable crêpes can also be found tucked way underground in Provence. Crêpes à Gogo is every université students’ dream! A Nutella crêpe for 2.5€…What’s not to love?
  • Gare Routière. The Gare Routière, or bus station, is full of bus that will take you throughout the Aix-Marseille area for a small fee. This is parfait for université students who don’t have a car. Today (2016), it costs 6€ (1-way) on the Cartreize to Marseille; however, if you get the Cartreize pass (you can get this from any bus station that has an office), you will find yourself with even better deals: It’s 2€ for 24 hours for students under the age of 26. There are even buses that will take you to other régions and départements in the Provence area: The Lubéron, the Var, the Vaucluse, the Alpes…you name it! And, let’s not forget the buses that will take you to the north: Lyon, Paris…
  • Les fontaines!

    La fontaine moussue

    If you don’t feel up to taking a walk (maybe it’s more of a hike where you’re staying) to Parc Jourdan, you can hop on one of the edges of a fontaine or on the ground in front of one (only if it’s in a Place where the car traffic is forbidden). The fontaines make excellent study benches! With their eternal water flow offering a calming sensation, they’re the parfait spot to relax and study.

  • The nightlife. Certainement, studying abroad is for Studying…and there’s no better way to “study” than to embrace the culture, which includes the night life! The Woohoo offre a mélange of culture Française and Européenne. And hosts culture nights on Tuesday’s. If you’re looking for more of a “rockin'” crowd, Le Sunset Café offre “Génération Rock” every Samedi and Soirée Latino on Thursday’s.

    (You see: Major cultural immersion happening here!)

    If you’re looking for more of a club scene, then hit up Le Mistral. Le Mistral often hosts DJ parties. The most récent was Jamie Jones. If you’re looking for a combination of dancing + caves (think: wine cellar) then hit up IPN. IPN hosts “Girls Night Out” on Friday’s. If you’re looking for a place to watch the latest football match, then Pub O’Shannon’s is the parfait spot!

It was this semestre abroad that helped me improve my Français and made me realize that the French make the best baguettes and pâtisseries (and in the south, the best calissons)

             

but they fall behind the US (at least Chicago) when it comes to cocktails (yes, this knowledge is a partie importante of the study abroad expérience ;).

Note to self: France = Wine (or hard liquor); US = Cocktails.

A terrible, plastique tasting cocktail from Bar des PTT.

Whatever you discover during your time studying abroad, remember that it’s the little things that make a Big différence. Even the vendors at the marché offrent their help when you pronounce (or flat out say) something wrong. Use these corrections to buy yourself a cool glass of rosé (cue in the South of France) at the end of a long day and take in the expérience. ♦


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Saint Augustine.