Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Trip to France 2015, part 6 (series finale)

Bonne fête du 14 juillet!  In honor of France's national holiday, I am writing the last post in my series My Trip to France.  

If you are French or a francophile like me, I hope your day is as sparkly as the Eiffel Tower at night!

Days 12-14

During the brief last leg of our trip, the kids came back to us after their home stay with a French family.  Most of them had rave reviews of their experience and I think it was an invaluable learning experience for them. After saying good-bye to their families at the train station in Aix, we boarded a chartered bus with a lively and super fun bus driver, Françoise.

le 27 juin

We visited the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, or le Palais des Papes.  We also saw Le Pont d'Avignon from a distance, but unfortunately we didn't get to dance on it.  Next time.


Then it was back into the bus and on to Le Pont du Gard, one bridge we were able to cross and dance on.  This is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon river. I really love seeing vestiges of Ancient Rome, and this day the odds were in my favor that I would see more.

Next stop:  the ancient city of Nîmes.  Our hotel was the Cheval Blanc, which was right across the street from this beauty.

The arena in Nîmes has one of the best preserved Roman arenas in existence.  We weren't able to visit it when we arrived in town because it was Saturday evening and the arena is a concert venue in the summer.  Upcoming shows included Sting and Nicki Minaj.

There is a statue of a famous bullfighter,  Christian Montcouquiol ("Nimeño II") in front of the arena, which was our meeting point in Nîmes.

Nîmes is also home to the Maison Carrée, an ancient Roman temple. Très cool.

 And of course, a delicious dinner to end our day.  This time it was a galette jambon fromage oeuf.  C’était tellement bon!

le 28 juin

The next day, we got to visit the arena and I was wowed.  I never knew I would like Roman architecture as much as I do.  Maybe I should go to Rome someday.

This is a vomitorium. Contrary to popular belief, a vomitorium has nothing to do with vomit.
Rather, it was an entrance or exit passage in a Roman arena or amphitheater.

Next, we got back into the bus and headed for Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.   

The Provençal legend tells us that the year 40AD, a boat was launched from Jerusalem, without sails, oars or supplies, and drifted across the Mediterranean until it came ashore at this site. Some think the disciples were forced into a boat without facilities, and then cast adrift, so that they would perish at sea. 

Their relics are supposed to be housed in the church here.  I didn't get a good picture of the front of the church, but here is a side view.  

The best part of this town was the beach view. And the beaches were sandy!

They happened to be having a barbecue festival the day we were there.  One of my students bought a French magazine about barbecue, and here is one of the articles.  Being from Kansas ourselves, we were very proud.

We weren't able to eat the barbecue, so we went for pizza at a nearby pizzeria.  It was very hot that day, so we were underneath red umbrellas.  That is why these two photos have a red hue.  It also felt quite hellish in the heat, so the hue is quite à propos. 

The main statue in town shows a famous white horse of the Camargue.

Les flamants roses; picture taken from bus window.

After a couple of hours, we finally arrived in Nice, where we would stay for two nights.  I had a lovely hotel room.

I like the colors of some of the buildings down here.

This ice cream shop had 94 flavors to offer!  Wow!

And we ended our evening at the beach.

Unfortunately, it was a rocky beach, which isn't my favorite type.  Yet, I did manage to enjoy being there anyway.  :)

And here is a statue of Apollo at the Place Masséna.  He has an interesting history, which you can read about here.  Before my trip, my daughter and I were looking around Google Maps at some of the places I was going to go in France.  We "walked" down the street in Nice and spied this statue.  My daughter asked me to take a picture of it when I got to Nice.  While I took photo, but I made the mistake of telling my students this story, and they made fun of me because they thought I was weird for taking a picture of a naked man statue for my 12-year-old daughter.  Hey, anything for art, right?  

le 29 juin

Last full day.

We have arrived in Monaco.  Our first stop--Le Musée Océanographique. 

While waiting for our time to enter the museum, my kids had fun braiding each other's hair.

Next, the prince's palace.

Before leaving Monaco, Françoise took us to the starting point of the Formula 1 Grand Prix race.  We went to pole position #1 and she counted down "Trois, deux, un!  Allez!"  Then she pretended that our bus was in the race.  Of course, we had to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks.  I took a video, but it is too big to upload here.  I will post a picture of this wonderful woman later.  

And then we went up to the hilltop town of Èze.  The medieval town was almost too charming, and vistas were breathtaking.

Next, the perfume factory, Fragonard.  It was cool to tour the place, but I wasn't able to take photos of the production room.

Our farewell dinner was at La Taverne Masséna.

The owners at Massena certainly know how to cater to American teenagers!

Le Coca-Cola, c'est notre vin américain!

le 30 juin

Traveling home...
Our fabulous bus driver, Françoise.

Flying over the Alps was stupendous.

So was this Air France flight attendant. 

Back in the U.S. a couple of my students found these two Diet Coke bottles;
one has my first name, the other my last!  So sweet!

My daughter texted a picture of the family on their way to the Kansas City airport to pick me up.

And here are my six marvelous students and myself, back at KCI where we started our trip two weeks earlier.  We are jet lagged, hungry, and exhilarated.

I couldn't have asked for a better group of young men and women to travel with!

Merci, mes élèves!  Vous êtes formidables!





Bonne nuit!  

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