By Ben Mangubat
After spending three days in Paris, we headed south towards Avignon via Frances’ high speed TGV train. Unfortunately, we were struck with another problem. The ongoing French rail strike meant that our train was missing about half of its intended cars, making the seating was a free for all. We were lucky to get on our train early enough to avoid the scramble for seats. The class was split up among two separate train cars, but we made it to our destination without any further issues.
We had a few free hours to explore Avignon before our tour of the Palais des Papes; what was once the papal seat of power for Western Christianity. It has now turned into a museum. There was a great interactive part to the museum where every visitor got a tablet that would narrate your journey through the palace, and through augmented reality you could see what the palace looked like during its time of power. When we finished the tour of the museum, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the streets of Avignon and seeing what the historic city had to offer. We finished our day in Avignon and headed to Carpentras where our hotel was located.
Our second day in the south of France brought us to Pont du Gard, Aix-en-Provence, and the Atelier de Cézanne. Most of our day was spent on the bus going to and from our different excursions for the day. We spent our morning at Pont du Gard, an old Roman aqueduct that crossed the river Gardon. I believe that Pont du Gard was the surprise hit of the trip that none of us thought would be as fun as it was. Many of us spent our time there relaxing along the river banks enjoying some time to relax and unwind.
Later, we had a tour at Atelier de Cézanne which translates to workshop of Cezanne, where we learned about the artist, Paul Cezanne. This stop was a disappointment to many of us as we expected more and all we got was to see was his tiny workshop, no bigger than a classroom at Shenandoah, in the middle of town we couldn’t even explore. Our final stop was the town of Arles in the region of Provence. There, we explored an old Roman colosseum and ate our final meal in France.
France was an amazing country to visit where we learned about the people and the culture. Some of our stops were great, and some were not, but we all had experiences we won’t soon forget. We still had four days left on our trip and Spain was our final destination. Keep an eye out for the final chapter of the GEL mini series!