This provincial life

I knew when I started this blog that I would have hard time keeping up with it, but I am resolved to not abandon it entirely.  It’s been weeks since my last post, but I am going to continue chronologically.  The week following my London trip was pretty uneventful except for my final visit to the Musée d’Orsay.  I have now seen every piece of art on display, with the exception of the current Degas exhibit because that cost extra.  I didn’t keep an official count but I think it took me almost ten visits to finish the whole museum.  It was bittersweet afterwards- I’ve been so many times that I knew my way around and quite well, and now I have to go figure out a whole new museum.  On the other hand, I’m excited to see a whole new museum! Win-win. Anywho, that weekend was the Sweet Briar trip to Provence.  We left bright and early on Saturday and took the TGV to Avignon.  Our first stop was the market at Uzès. This was definitely the highlight of the trip.  We kept turning corners in the small, cobblestoned alleyways, expecting to see the last stall, but it kept going and going! All of the merchants were so friendly, offering samples and asking us where we were from.  We bought cheese, tapenade, bread, falafel, and some local wine for pretty much the best picnic lunch ever.  It truly feels like you’re on a movie set, it’s so quaint.  I hate using the word ‘quaint’ because it’s so condescending-sounding, but it really was quaint.  After lunch we went to see the Pont du Gard, which is an ancient Roman aqueduct.  Provence is known for having many Roman ruins, and this is one of the most magnificent relics left of that era. Next we bused to Arles, where Van Gogh lived for the latter part of his life. In fact, we saw some of the exact scenes that he painted, including a bridge and a café. We had dinner there, and were serenaded by a Catalan guitar player. Gil, our tour guide, who was clearly feeling a bit rowdy, taught us all some French drinking songs which was very amusant.  After a mini Spanish-flavored dance party in the restaurant we headed to an Irish pub as it was St. Patrick’s Day.  All in all, it was clear that the Provincial French people enjoy St. Patty’s Day just as much as Americans.  That night my roommate and I had a mix-up at the hotel due to some numbers written European-style (we thought that our room was 55 when in fact is was 44), but aside from that it was very nice to have a stand-up shower (which my host family does not have).  Sunday we saw some more Roman ruins, including an amphitheater and a plain-old theater.  Finally we bused back to Avignon and toured the Pope’s Palace.  Avignon was the seat of seven Popes in the fourteenth century.  The palace is absolutely massive, and even had some of the original tapestries.  Gil was extremely knowledgeable and was very entertaining to listen to.  Although it was an exhausting and jam-packed weekend, I loved seeing the countryside of France.  It’s easy to forget that there is more to France than just Paris, and I think that many Parisians fall into that trap, too. Here’s some pics:

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The view that we gazed upon while picnicking                                       A miniature pony we befriended, who we named Augustus

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At the market…

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The biggest carrots I’ve ever seen

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The only time  that moldy cheese looks appetizing

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Flowers were just starting to bloom

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Pont du Gard

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Where the water would flow

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Hiking around Pont du Gard                                                                     On the way to Arles

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The Van Gogh bridge

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The amphitheater

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The theater

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One of my favorite things about Provence was the window shutters

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In the Papal Palace                                                                                                                         The kitchen of the Papal Palace- chimney


Courtyard of the Papal Palace