There must be more than this Provincial life!

Fun fact I learned while visiting my good friend from high school, Bre, in Aix en Provence, France, where she is studying abroad: Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” sings about wanting “more than this Provincial life.” Turns out she was actually referring to the province of Provence, France, where Bre is studying this semester and through which I traveled throughout the past few days! As a certfied Disney nerd, I was extremely excited by this and of course had songs from that movie stuck in my head the whole time!

AND SPEAKING OF SONGS!!! MY LIFE WAS MADE when Bre and I were on a home goods shopping kick. One of the Ikea-esque stores we visited was playing French radio…. WHICH WAS PLAYING CÉLINE!!!!! For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am also certified as one of Céline Dion’s biggest fans EVER, and well, hearing On Ne Change Pas in a location other than my iPod made me SO unbelievably happy. It’s one of many things I’ve come to enjoy about France (along with, of course, amazing bread and pastries! YUM :])

Nerdiness aside, France was wonderful and of course beautiful. I got my own tour of Aix from Bre and was able to meet and go out with a bunch of her friends Thursday night! Tons of fun!! Friday we continued sightseeing around Aix, then took a 45 minute bus down to the gorgeous port city of Marseille. It’s yet another city I fell in love with almost instantly, and I’m beginning to see a trend here – give me a city with a sea/ocean and mountains and I’ll be the happiest girl in the world! (for reference, I’m also a big fan of Barcelona – as previously noted – as well as San Francisco!)

I also never turn down a good hike with an amazing view at the end, which is something so common in Europe and something we did in Marseille! The old church at the top of the hill, Notre Dame de la Garde, takes a lot of stamina to get up to but the view is ALWAYS worth it!! I really wish I had access to a computer so I could show you pictures, even though they wouldn’t do justice. I’ll hopefully get to one this week – if not, when I’m home next week, for sure!

We also were able to go inside, and while the chapel wasn’t too impressive, the cathedral part was!! This church is probably one of my favorites I’ve ever visited, or if nothing else one of the most memorable. All European churches are gorgeous but many start to blend together after awhile. I visited the famous mosque-turned-cathedral in Córdoba, Spain, last year, which was really cool because it fused the two architectual styles together. But this Notre Dame didn’t have an Arabic section and a Christian section like the one in Córdoba – the entire Christian cathedral was in the Arabic style. Having studied a semester in Southern Spain where Arabic influences are EVEYWHERE, the Arabic influences in this church were so apparent to me and I just loved it. Apart from that, since it’s right on the sea, it is sort of decorated with a maritime feel. There are pictures of boats hanging up and even strings of model boats hanging from the ceiling. It was so unique and breathtaking and I just adored it. Again, I can’t wait to show you pictures because I’m really not doing it justice here!

After wandering around Marseille all day, we headed back to Aix for dinner (Doner Kepabs, oh how I have missed you!!) and turned in early. Bre had to leave for a film festival in the city of Cannes and I had a train to catch – both around 8am. After staying out late Thursday and walking a TON Friday, I think we both welcomed the much-needed slumber!!

Even though I was barely in Provence for two days, I still feel like I saw and accomplished a lot. I LOVED spending time with Bre, meeting her host family and catching up with her, and I especially loved that she (obviously) speaks French and was able to translate for me! I’ve wanted to learn French for a LONG time (no, this notion has absolutely nothing to do with Céline… what are you talking about?!) and so I’m always excited to see how much I can understand, especially because it’s similar to Spanish in so many ways. As I’ve discovered, it’s next to impossible for me to understand 98% of spoken French because I haven’t been trained on what to listen for. Written French, I have a slight advantage – maybe 75% I can understand, on a good day. Either way, neither are nowhere near where I’d like and I hope to fix that someday, preferrably sooner than later!

Anyhow, that was my experience in Southern France!! I’m back in my beloved Granada, Spain right now and have plenty to share – but I’ll sign off for now and save my Spanish stories for another day not far from today! Au revoir!