Our first week living in Aix-en-Provence

Language learning and fun activities in France!

We arrived in our program town of Aix-en-Provence on Saturday afternoon. After settling into the Lycee St. Eloi dorms, we explored the old town center and had a Welcome Dinner on the Cours Mirabeau to celebrate our arrival. On Sunday, we toured an olive press and tasted artisanal olive oil made from trees that are over 300 years old! After that, we visited le Chateau des Baux, a well-preserved medieval fortress on a rocky mountainside, where we watched a trebuchet being fired as well as a bear training demonstration.

We also saw the beautiful countryside of the Luberon Valley as well as the lavender fields in full bloom. All in all, it was a busy weekend of amazing sights!

Classes begin!

On Monday, classes started at the Institute for American Universities. Students broke out into groups depending on their language level and worked on improving their French skills. Later, they attended a seminar on French culture and mannerisms and then went to see a French movie. Between the intensive classes and cultural activities, students were already making progress in their French comprehension and conversation!

Meeting our Language Partners

Tuesday was Dina’s birthday, and we had a special picninc in the park to celebrate. It was also the first meeting with the Language Partners, French students who lead conversation groups in French and who give students a native’s experience of the city. Everyone had a great time, even though the groups were conducted solely in French!

Wednesday marked the beginning of “les soldes” in France, one of two major sales periods in which many items are placed on clearance. Needless to say, the afternoon was spent shopping, but we also enjoyed some culture at Le Pavillon Noir, the first building in France built solely for dance performances, where we got a special backstage tour. We ended the day by getting a drink on the terrasse in a cafe to celebrate our first week in France.

This weekend we are off to Arles and Avignon. Check back next week for more updates and photos!

A bientot!

– Erin Simmeth, U.S. chaperone, Aix-en-Provence

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