Weekend Get-Away : The South of France

One of the many great things about studying abroad at Parsons Paris, is that so many exciting destinations are just a train ride away. Last weekend, thanks to Parsons Pairs’ partnership with Academic Programs International (API), our students’ had the opportunity for a weekend excursion to Aix En Provence and Avignon in the South of France.

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 It was a real European experience from start to finish. From Paris to Provence we took the TGV which is the high speed train with a view of the French countryside scattered with beautiful landscapes (as well as lots of cows and sheep). As we got closer to our destination, the countryside seemed to become more and more familiar– soon to discover that the city was home to the famous post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. We were very fortunate while in Provence to visit his home and studio, but even more exciting we were able to venture up the hill to stand where he stood while he painted various renderings of Mount Saint-Victoire.

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After taking a walk in Cézanne’s footsteps we explored the open-air-markets. From food, to flowers, to clothing, and antiques– venturing between stand after stand was a whole day event, eating fresh food from the market all along the way.

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Over the course of the weekend we toured multiple art exhibitions as part of “Journées du Patrimonies” aka the heritage days festival in Aix. At Musée Granet we saw “Le Grand Atelier Du Midi,” which included many works by Cézanne as well as other artists directly influenced by him.

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After taking two days in Aix we traveled north to Avignon. There we visited the “Palais des Papes,” a medieval palace which in the 14th century was home to six different popes. We spent the morning exploring the enormous castle from bottom to top. Seeing the ins and outs of what living was like for a pope in the seat of western christianity during the 14th century.

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From there we went to a wine tasting at the world famous vineyard Chateauneuf-du-pape. There we were taught how to judge a wines color, smell, and taste, how to determine it’s age, and what wine goes best for different occasions. We also had a tour of the vineyard, to learn about the growing conditions of the grapes and what really goes into making an excellent bottle of Chateauneuf- du- pape.

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Finally, after a long weekend of French immersion and culture, it was back on the TGV to Paris feeling very tired, and a little more French!

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