I am finally getting around to writing a post about France! Yay! As of today, I have been in France for a little over two weeks. I am staying in a small town, or village, as Michelle would say, about 20 minutes from Vichy. While my days haven’t been as busy as when I was in Denmark, I have been working on my French, doing some planning for the rest of the year, and relaxing. I love where I am staying, everyone is so generous and welcoming, and it is absolutely beautiful.
When I first arrived I was shocked by how bad my French was. I guess it hadn’t dawned on me that some review might be a good thing to try and fit in before my arrival. I spent the first few days getting into a routine and enjoying not having to do much. I slowly got over the initial shock of my subpar French skills and began getting back into it.
The first week we made a visit to the Puy de Dôme, which is a volcano in the Massif Central. It wasn’t far from where we were staying, so we left by car in the morning. It was steep, but scenic drive through the chain of volcanoes. At one point we stopped the car to look out over the landscape and I found a pretty little igneous rock that I pocketed. Once we arrived at the Puy de Dôme we took a little train up to the top, about a 15-minute ride. It was a bit chillier and more windy up on the mountain, and as we climbed up the stairs and onto the lookout I was amazed by the panoramic view. We spend a while walking around, reading about the volcano and the surrounding areas, and observing the many paragliders who were taking flight off the dome. If you ever find yourself at the Puy de Dôme and want to paraglide, I believe that you can arrange a flight starting at about 80 euros. This might be something on my bucket list if I am ever in the area again. We then finished up with a pretty decent lunch at the tourist cafe and then headed back down the mountain.
The next few days involved a few shopping trips, a movie (which I probably understood about 10% of), discovering good running trails, and eating yummy French foods. I also downloaded a few more books onto my Kindle to read in the afternoons (by the way I am in love with my Kindle and would recommend to anyone who is an avid traveler and loves to read). My typical day consists here of waking up around 9, eating muesli with a banana, relaxing by reading or painting or catching up with stuff on my laptop until lunch is ready, eating again, going on some sort of errand or museum visit, running, eating dinner, trying to improve my French comprehension by watching TV, and then heading off to bed. Not a bad life 🙂
Our next big trip was to see Lascaux. I was very excited about this, and it also happened to be one of the few art pieces I remembered from my AP Art History class last year. Because it was about a four-hour drive, we decided to stay the night in a hotel and drive back the next day. We arrived in Montignac about mid-day, ate lunch by the river, and then headed to the museum. We went on a tour of the reproduction of the original caves. The tour was in French, and this was the first time that I really felt like I could understand the language really well. Granted, our tour guide’s voice was remarkably easy to understand, but it made me feel good about the visit. The museum itself is organized very well, I learned a lot, and I would highly recommend a visit. The next day we drove home and stopped in a little town on the way back. I would’ve loved to take pictures of the old buildings and streets, some of which dated to the 1500s, but sadly my phone was dead.
I am now preparing myself for the rest of my trip. My next stop is Paris, then Montpellier, and after that maybe Nice. In November my travels in France will be over, but I will be headed over to Madagascar to volunteer on an IVHQ program. I’m very excited about this next leg of my journey, and I’m excited to keep you all updated!