Land Tour

Trip Start Sep 06, 2005
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Flag of France  ,
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

So it's hard to believe a trip could be so great that Paris paled in
comparison, but it's true. I wrote a lot more but I'll give you the
summarized version so you don't have to read a novel. We left Versailles
on Friday the 21st on a shrunken tour bus and drove about 6 hours to
Perigault where we saw the Grottes de Lascaux, these underground caves
where they found old cave drawings from thousands of years ago. I didn't
think it would be very interesting but the artwork really was impressive.
The next day we stopped in two small towns of southern France, Sarlat and
Albi, which were both very pretty, and then visited Toulouse, one of the
bigger cities in France that is 25% students. It was a fun place at
night, but in the way of cities I prefer Paris.
Monday we visited Carcassonne, a medieval fortified city kind of like San
Gimignano without the towers and the mountain. We got to see the sunset
there, which was fabulous, and then a bunch of us girls watched some of
Pride and Prejudice in the hotel room. Tuesday we took a day off from
touring to visit the Sinnigers (the coordinators of the program in France)
at their 18th century mountain house. They served us a traditional dinner
of cassoulet, which wasn't my favorite, but it was nice to spend time with
them. That night we drove to Arles, a southern town famous for its Roman
ruins that has kind of an Italian feel. I felt even more like I was in
Italy due to the lack of heat and cold floors...luckily it wasn't freezing
outside otherwise we would've been in trouble. Wednesday morning we had
free to look around and shop before going to see the Pont du Gard, a huge
Roman aqueduct almost perfectly preserved. Since we were with Dr. Morgan
who likes to do the rugged, non-touristy things as much as possible
, instead of taking the bus to it we parked the bus and hiked to it from
the opposite side. After that we went for a two-hour horseride through
the hilly countryside, which was actually very fun despite the smell and
the fact that the horse in front of me stopped at least 5 times to go to
the bathroom in various forms. Not a pretty picture. Luckily I wasn't
thrown off the horse like my friend Dawn horse was pretty sturdy
and took care of me well.
Thursday morning we went to Cassis, a small town on the Mediterranean
Sea. It's not known for being a tourist town especially in the fall, so
it was not very crowded and was absolutely beautiful. The beaches are
made of small round pebbles and there are cliffs and rocks that drop off
into the water which makes for a very pretty coastline. Some of us even
dared to go swimming...the water was pretty cold but it was worth it.
Friday we took a day just to explore the beaches of the Cote d'Azure,
which was a nice time to relax.
Saturday we went from one extreme to the other, going from the beaches to
the mountain city of Grenoble. We took a cable car to the top of a hill
to watch the sunset. The city is really clean and has lots of trolleys so
there aren't too many cars. The scenery makes it prettier than Paris in
my opinion. The next afternoon we stopped at another place in the
mountains called Annecy, which was actually one of my favorite places. It
was a small town with lots of canals and a beautiful lake surrounded by
mountains. Very peaceful, and not too touristy. The rest of the
afternoon we spent driving until we got to Chamonix in the evening, a
small ski town nestled between two mountains in the Alps. The weather
there was colder but wonderful because for the first time it felt like
fall, with crisp air and the smell of wood. It didn't really feel like
France anymore since it's more of a resort town, but it was still really
Monday morning we did my favorite thing on the tour. We took a cable car
to the top of the "Aigle du Midi", a peak near Mont Blanc, the highest
mountain in Europe. It was a half hour cable car ride to the top and we
could feel ourselves swaying in the wind. The view at the top was
completely amazing. We could see snow covered mountains that went on
forever, and we could see tiny mountain climbers below us walking in the
snow...I almost expected to see Frodo and Gandalf like in Lord of the Rings.
Several people got dizzy from the lack of oxygen and dizzying heights.
Even though there was a railing I didn't go too close to's really
scary to realize how high up you are.
We spent the last day in the city of Lyon, the second biggest city in
France and, most importantly, the gastronomic capital of the country. It
definitely lived up to its name...I had gnocchi worthy of being from Italy
and the most amazing mussels (they're becoming one of my favorite foods)
I've had here. After that we had a long busride back to Versailles, and
now here I am enjoying our last day off before classes start again. We
might go see a tennis tournament in paris if we can get last minute
I had a card waiting for me when I got back! Thanks for the mail! And mom,
good job on getting my classes fixed...I checked and it worked. I'm going
to try and put some pictures online now. This weekend I'm going to Belgium
so I don't know if I'll write before then but talk to you soon hopefully!
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