Monday, March 28, 2011

Provence: Aix-en-Provence

Aix is a wonderful little town. It is apparently a very popular destination for study-abroad students, and is very much a pricey little college town. But at the same time, it is also very French, rather small and quaint, and very historic. We were there on a Saturday, which meant that all of the street markets and flea markets were in full swing.

The first thing to know about Aix: there are fountains everywhere.

Just a sampling for you! I spent most of the day wandering through the various little alleys of Aix, but made sure to stop at the market in the morning.

I walked away with two excellent scarves and a Celtic-knot silver ring.

Now onto the wanderings!

I stopped for an excellent lunch, wrote some postcards (which I've been a bad girl and still haven't sent), and got quite the sunburn. 

A little more wandering, and perching by some fountains, and then it was time to meet up for our bus to our train to Paris!

I should have some fun Paris-y updates for you over the coming weekend- I'm hosting Katie of London: Day Two and some of her friends this weekend, and will be shepherding them all over this fair city of mine. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Provence: Marseille

Marseille is the oldest city in France- it was settled by the Greeks as a commerce post around 600 BC (Massalia). It is also the second-largest city after Paris.

Essentially, this tells you that the Greeks of Asia Minor founded Marseille upon this spot in 600 BC
Marseille (commonly spelled Marseilles in English) is a port town, and the cute little area that directly surrounds the water is very Mediterranean- I felt like I was in Mamma Mia! 

There is a famous staircase, several fabulous churches, and lots of cute little residential buildings. 

Around this time, all of us were grumbling ominously about the fact that as soon as the tour was over, we were leaving for Aix-en-Provence. Why would we only spend a few hours in this paradise and then head inland? What was our program director thinking?

We hit up this fabulous view for our last hurrah in Marseille:

Then, as we walked to the bus station for our trip to Aix-en-Provence, we discovered that our program director was right, as is becoming the usual course for things. The rest of Marseille is just a standard European city that looks like the outskirts of Paris. Which is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but nothing we aren't seeing on a daily basis this semester- 19th century buildings and neon lights. We saw the fabulous, cute, historic part (which I will definitely be returning to some day), and then we moved on. 

Up next: Aix!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Provence: Scenes From the Train

We took a 3.5-hour train down to Marseille on Friday morning, and a 3-hour train back up from Aix-en-Provence yesterday evening (with a bus to connect the two Friday night). I got some pretty good views of French countryside, and I thought I'd share some with you:

Moving trains aren't the easiest thing to capture good photos from, so sadly, there was a lot of pretty countryside on the way down that I don't have. 

And there is one final one that is refusing to upload at the current time, so it will be making it's appearance later. 

City-specific posts to come!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Provence Teaser

We had a whirlwind tour of Provence, the southern province on the Mediterranean. We took the train down to Marseille yesterday morning, then zipped up to Aix-en-Provence last night and spent the day there. Got back into Paris about an hour ago.

My internet runs out in about 20 minutes, but I wanted to get a teaser post up for you all before then!