I met Marine at a soirée for international and French students at the University of Nantes. It was a nice way to meet other students interested in international exchanges. I got to see Marine in New York this summer, and now I got to see her again in Nîmes. The first day, we stayed in Nîmes and explored a bit.
Friday, we took the TER to Montpellier to visit one of Marine’s friends. I like Montpellier quite a bit as a city so far. There is quite a lot to do there and the vielle ville feels kind of like a village with its ruelles and little shops. It’s calm and cute. We walked around the city to see things listed in the Guide Routard and went to the Musée Fabre. They have a nice permanent collection and there was a Signac exposition going on that was nice. After that, we met up with Marine’s friend who’d gotten out of class and was officially on break. We stayed over at her apartment. She was a lot of fun and we enjoyed our time there!
We left Montpellier the next day and headed to Aigues-Mortes. At least, that’s where I thought we were headed to. We wound up in Grau-de-roi. Still not sure if I read the schedule wrong or what happened that the bus didn’t got as far as Aigues-Mortes. We were going to try to walk there, but we were informed that probably wasn’t a smart idea as it was at least an hour’s walk and we had a bus to catch to get back to Nîmes. Luckily, we were able to catch an Edgard bus to Aigues-Mortes with time to go climb the ramparts and la Tour Constance. Aigues-Mortes is growing on me. It’s at once somewhat southern redneck (or “beauf” as Marine taught me) and very artsy. There are many artisan shops and galleries in the town. It’s a pretty unique combination. Such is la Camargue.
The next day, we went to Arles. This is the town in which Van Gogh (Gokh in French pronunciation, thank you Madame Staffiere for teaching me the correct pronunciation back in high school) lived. We met up with Ryan, a girl I studied abroad with doing TAPIF in that town, for lunch. After, we just wandered. It’s a lovely, quiet, town. I did not realize that Arles, like Nîmes, has an arena and a fairly well known feria. The feria is a festival with bull fighting, bulls running through the streets, and other events related to tauromachie, or the bullfighting culture in the south of France. The Rhône River runs through Arles and is quite lovely. That night, I baked some banana bread for Marine since it’s a typically American food that she’d never tried before and I had some yogurt and bananas I needed to finish. Count one French person converted to the wonders of banana bread.
Next on the agenda, Sommières, a little medieval village that I would suggest to visit on not a Sunday. It is quite lovely to walk around. It felt like it belonged in a fairy tale, complete with a castle on a hill and a road named “Chemin de la Princesse”. After we returned, I gave my first private English lesson, then we went to the arena in Nîmes. It’s pretty cool to enter, you can actually walk around the rim! It’s free if you prove you live in Nîmes. Marine left the next morning, but we had a lot of fun and it was really great to see her again!