Life here in Lacoste, France has made keeping everyone updated a little harder than I expected, but I wanted to share a bit about my latest adventures and what I've been learning over the past two weeks. Being in Lacoste is an absolute dream come true. Every morning when I wake up and look out my tiny square foot window, I always feel like I'm dreaming. It can't possibly be real, but it is, and I get to live it for another 5 weeks.
It's crazy to me actually. I just typed out 5 weeks instead of 6 or 7, and that made me a little sad. Life in the South of France is so slow paced, yet the weeks are already flying by faster than I can grab them.
In just the past two weeks, I've already had the opportunity to explore a multitude of places. I've adventured to Nimes, Pont du Gard, Isle sur la Sorgue, Apt, Fontaine de Vacluse, Glanum, and St Remy. How crazy is that? Each of these places, while all so different, hold such a special place in my heart, and I can't wait to come back some day and see them again.
A little blurb about each place for some reference points:
Nimes: By far the CLEANEST city I have every been in. Nimes is definitely the most "city" like place I have been to recently, and while escaping to Lacoste is much needed, it was a relief to go visit a place that has more than one restaurant in it. Every square inch was filled with such character and charm. That morning, I ventured into a Roman arena, and once I had spent enough time inside, my fabulous roomies and I grabbed some sangrias at a cafe literally right next to the arena and walked around the city. We also peeked around the Jardin de Fontaine, and grabbed some of the most incredible Gelato of my life (seriously, I might go back JUST to have more!) The whole city was so clean and beautiful, and I definitely feel like I left a small piece of my heart there.
Pont du Gard: Going to Pont du Gard was such an incredible experience for me. Not only is the scenery nothing short of stunning, but it really showed me a bit about myself. There's a SCAD tradition where everyone jumps into the Gard river, which is absolutely FREEZING cold and incredibly deep. I'm not gonna lie, I was terrified. I brought my swimsuit and stood watching everyone else jump for a solid 20 minutes. I kept thinking to myself, "Go do it, you'll never get to do this again!" while at the same time thinking, "HOLY CRAP that is so deep and freezing and what if something bites me or I can't breathe, etc" And honestly, it took me a while to even get the courage to walk over to the edge. I realized in that moment that I was on the trip of a lifetime, and that I have no idea if I'll ever go back. So I did it! I was incredibly cold and I lost my breath as soon as I hit the water, furthering my initial panic, but once I regained my composure, I realized I was so happy that I did it.
Isle sur la Sorgue: Again, one of those places that taught me about myself. Isle sur la Sorgue is a little town about 30 minutes away from Lacoste. We went on the weekend when they were having their weekly market, and I decided to take the time to go off by myself and explore. Normally, I naturally just want to be with people and experience things together, which is fine and all. But I've started to appreciate the moments that I spend on my own, making my own memories. It sounds silly because it was just a small antique/food market close to my village, but it was such an empowering experience to go off on my own and see things for myself and make every decision of the afternoon on my own. I ended up getting some incredible photos, tried lots of samples, got more gelato, and even grabbed a little antique ring dish from a local seller. I highly recommend spending some quality time with yourself, it really will change your view of the world and of yourself.
Apt: I believe I briefly mentioned Apt in my last post, but Apt has left such a sweet little stamp on my heart. Apt is about a 20 minute bus ride from Lacoste, and features the most incredible open air market every Saturday morning. Last weekend, my roommates and I headed over on our own and explored the area with fresh eyes. We started the morning off with some mimosas and then ate our way through the market. Fresh fruit, produce, bread, meats, and cheeses were on every corner. The vendors themselves were some of the nicest people I have ever met! There's this one man in apt that sells crystals, incense, and tapestries in the same place every week, and he easily is one of the most inspirational people I have ever talked to. He spoke pretty good English, and since it was cold out, offered us all some homemade tea with mint and other spices in it. I'm not a big tea drinker, but my roommates told me it was some of the best tea they'd ever had. He went on to tell us how he believes that we only get one life, and that we should use what we have to help others whenever we can. Later that day, when we were trying to find a cafe for lunch, we asked him for a recommendation, and he gave us the rest of his large pizza in case we couldn't find anything! He had spent all day working, and yet when we asked where to find food, he made sure to offer us what he had. It really is such a change in dynamic- we always are so scared to take things from strangers, afraid that there is some ulterior motive behind it for the worst. However, when things are so much simpler and everyone knows everyone here, they all just want to share what they have and help one another. It truly was one of the most life-changing moments for me, despite it being just some tea and half a pizza.
Fontaine de Vacluse: Oh goodness, do I love this city. This little town is just about the cutest and most beautiful place in the area. Unlike most of the areas, this town is always bustling with excitement! The area is built around a giant river that flows out of the ground nearby, and is filled with adorable tourist shops, amazing restaurants and cafes, and some of the most beautiful views. I actually came here as part of my Photography class and ventured off on my own, and ended up getting some really incredible shots during Golden Hour. Fontaine de Vacluse has just the right amount of activity and serenity to make you feel like you are still in an active environment, but the beautiful river and all of the surrounding nature help you to feel at peace. Fun Fact: for those of you who are literary buffs, Petrarch actually lived here for a while, and there's a sweet little museum and garden available to look around where his home used to be. Walking around this area was such a breath of fresh air, and a nice little escape to a bit of a more populated area than Lacoste.
Glanum: Glanum is actually a city located about an hour from Lacoste that had been previously hidden underground for centuries, and was only recently rediscovered! The actual purpose of the city is still unknown, but we do know that it was a Roman city, and that it was full of beauty and intricate details in the buildings that remain. We went as part of our Art History class and had the opportunity to roam around and explore the area. My friends and I went to an open field and soaked in some rays and sketched for a while. It was such a gorgeous day, and truly an incredible opportunity to sit among the ruins and imagine life back in it's prime.
St Remy: St Remy is fairly close to Glanum, and we had the opportunity to explore the asylum that Van Gogh spent his last year at. The entire experience was nothing short of surreal. The asylum itself is actually a gorgeous area, filled with beautiful landscaping and a stunning cathedral. We actually got to walk around and even see Van Gogh's room and living spaces! I spent the majority of the time sitting by the courtyard and taking in the architecture and landscaping. The colors were so vibrant and full of life! Asylums are typically shown as closed off, dark, and dismal- yet this one was so full of inspiration, no wonder Van Gogh spent a year here! Afterwards we went into the city and spent some time walking around. Fun fact: restaurants in France don't stay open in the afternoons. We learned this the hard way when trying to get lunch at 3:30 in the afternoon! Eventually we found a little bistro that was able to serve us some Italian cuisine to go- shout out to our waitress for figuring out our broken French.
These past three weeks being away have taught me so much. Being away from the distractions of home, with all new people, in an environment that quite literally forces you to unplug a bit (Provencial towns don't come with the best wifi) has given me the opportunity to open my eyes and see things at face value. I'm learning more and more about my aesthetic, my personal goals, and about myself. I'm learning to take more risks and to go for things even when I don't know what will happen. I'm learning to enjoy every second and not worry so much about the opinions of others. But most importantly, I'm finding myself. I'm finding what matters to me, what I want out of life, and what I am capable of- and that is the most incredible feeling.
Thank you so much for reading!