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,


narrow streets,


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.


TAPIF: Holiday Themed Lessons


I wish I could say that all of my leçons begin with a theme – after all,  it makes the material so much easier for students to remember (and so much more fun)! But, there are some grammatical points that you just can’t pair up with a theme (that’s why I use songs and games!). I suppose for this reason, I overcompensate when a theme pops up…I totally endorse jumping all over EVERY U.S. (and any English speaking country) “HOLIDAY” when appropriate.

Last month was Valentine’s Day. So, what did we do during English time? We learned that Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers but also a day to say, “Thank you for being my friend.” A concept that every single French student laughed at (I had to calm about 200 laughing children within a matter of 3 days…I deserve a bonus 😉 ). Their laughter turned into happy faces when it came time to make Valentine’s Day cards. After all, who doesn’t like coloring?


This year, I discovered that Valentine’s Day leçons are a great way to: 1. Introduce or review colors (if already covered). 2. Introduce or review numbers. 3. Introduce or review “what’s your name?” My leçons focused on reviewing the colors, which was needed for some of my classes (FYI the French have a hard time with Green and Gray – no matter how many times we work with pronouncing, understanding, seeing, and feeling the differences). I paired the color review with numbers. In some classes, numbers were review; in other classes numbers were a new topic. Due to the lack of time I have with the students, I printed out already made Valentine’s Day cards. I made a key using numbers and colors. After reviewing the directions as well as the colors and numbers, the students got to work on coloring their cards. Who knew that students would need 2 class periods to finish coloring 8 cards? Once the cards were finished, students walked around asking for each others’ names and how they’re spelled. The next step was filling in the “To” & the “From” & then passing them out to each other. It felt just like a U.S. elementary school as the students walked around saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for being my friend!”

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Now that Winter break is coming to an end, I’m stuck with the burden of making St. Patrick’s Day top Valentine’s Day. Somehow, I think the idea of the “Pot o’ gold” will interest students more than coloring. This holiday might be trickier as I explain the differences in how it’s celebrated (or not celebrated) among the English speaking countries, but it’ll be fun!

Holidays to touch on at the primary level during TAPIF (as TAPIF starts in October) include (this is by no means a definitive list; it’s a list that I’ve been able to follow given the time):

  • Halloween (great to pair with leçons on the seasons, colors, animals, and disguises)
  • Thanksgiving (great to pair with leçons on food, drink, and animals)
  • Christmas/St. Nicolas (great to pair with leçons on colors, numbers, seasons, weather, time, religious and mythical differences/similarities between France and the U.S., and food and drink)
  • New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day (great to pair with leçons on time and seasons)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (great to pair with leçons on history, important people, colors, and numbers)
  • Valentine’s Day/St. Valentine’s Day (great to pair with leçons on colors, numbers, and ‘what’s your name?’)
  • Birthday (great to pair with leçons on numbers and age)
  • St. Patrick’s Day (great to pair with leçons on food and drink, colors, numbers, counting money, seasons, time, weather, and religious differences/similarities between English speaking countries and France)
  • Easter (great to pair with leçons on animals, colors, food, and religious/mythical differences between France and the US)
  • May Day (a dying tradition in the U.S., but great to pair with leçons on shapes, colors, numbers, and tradition)
  • Independence Day (will have to be taught near the end of April, but every student should know about it. It’s great to pair with leçons on colors, time, dates in history, numbers, and food and drink)

This list comes with what I’ve already done with my various elementary English levels, what we will do (with the coming holidays), and what I see that we could’ve done (but haven’t yet). The “could’ve” will be more beneficial as I renew my contract for next year. It would be nice to add other holidays from English speaking countries other than the U.S., but with the amount of time I have per class plus the material that needs to be covered, there’s just not enough time to include topics I’m no expert about. It’s quite interesting trying to pair famous traditional holidays with topics that are required to cover at the primary level. What I wouldn’t give to teach in a high school, where I imagine most holiday and tradition leçons focus more on discussion and debate. But, I love my primary students as they make teaching so much fun…I wouldn’t change it for the world! Especially when they give me cute little drawings of n’importe quoi (aka things I can’t make out) and are excited to see me. Oh, and when they talk in English…IT’S SO CUTE! ♦