Travel Update!!

I can’t believe it is already November! The last time I updated this blog was about three weeks ago in Paris. Hopefully, it was not too concerning to see me just drop off the face of the internet after my last post about being a solo traveler. But all is fine, it has just been a hectic few weeks, and in the best way possible. After Paris I went to Montpellier where I attended a conference called I Am A Man. After that, I traveled to Châteauneuf and Nice and I am now back in Lalizolle! I am trying to figure out where I am headed off to next before I fly to Madagascar. If you want to catch up on my adventures in all of these places then keep reading!

So, I don’t remember precisely where I left off with my Paris adventures, but after staying in Gif-sur-Yvette for about ten days I headed into the city to stay at a hostel. I wanted to see Paris at night and hopefully make friends with other solo travelers like myself. I originally had a hostel booked for three nights in the 18th arrondissement but the people I was staying with told me that for a young solo female traveler, the neighborhood probably wasn’t the best. I switched my reservation to a kind of overpriced hostel 😦 I ended up staying there for about three nights. To be fair, the neighborhood that I ended up staying in was very safe and I felt comfortable walking back after it got dark out. For my last few days I mostly just walked around the city, exploring cafes, clothing stores, and I even treated myself to a face lotion, yippee!

My next stop was Montpellier. I took two trains to get there and they both had surprisingly fast wifi which was wondrous. I probably should’ve used the time to write another blog post, but I instead finished up watching Ozark on Netflix, sorry about that. When I finally arrived it was raining and chilly, not really the weather that you expect to get in a warm coastal city. Luckily my AirB&B was directly next to the station so I didn’t have too far to go. I had about two days until the conference started and sadly both of those days were gloomy and wet. I tried not to let the rain ruin my plans, but on a rainy Sunday in France, options are a bit limited. I did end up walking to a few churches, but most things were closed or just not ideal for the weather. Though, once the conference started my days were very busy. When I was not attending the conference I had the chance to go visit the old Opera at Montpellier and a few other sites. The Opera building is stunning and you have a great view of the central square and fountain from the windows. I did not see any opera while I was here, but I think that would’ve been a pretty neat experience. A few of the other people and I at the conference also had the chance to make a day trip to St-Guilhem-le-Désert. This town is listed as one of the most beautiful towns in France and I have to say that it does live up to this name. We walked through the streets of the village for a bit before eating lunch at a beautiful restaurant overlooking a gorge. The man running the restaurant was a very animated and opinionated person. He also hated smartphones. He had a wall dedicated to cracked smartphones, I wish I had taken a picture. The lunch itself was delightful. There were about five courses and it was organized in an all you can eat style. There were lots of meats, all local, but as I am vegetarian I instead got lots of dishes featuring amazing French cheese. After lunch, I was in a food coma for pretty much the rest of the day. I also went to the Musée Fabre during my stay, which is an art museum in Montpellier. Other than that I had a great time at the conference. I learned a lot about photography and the civil rights movement and how the two are intertwined. This conference was also probably one of the most educational activities that I have participated in since graduating so yay for learning!

After Montpellier, I was off to Châteauneuf to WWOOF for the first time. WWOOFing, for those who don’t know, is an organization that lets farmers find people who are willing to work on their farm for a few hours a day in exchange for meals and a place to sleep. It is a very good system that allows you to travel on a budget. You still have time to be a tourist on your days or afternoons off but you don’t have to pay for a hotel. I honestly just enjoyed just being able to work and learn about the farm where I was staying. The farm where I WWOOFed was breathtaking. From the porch, you could see the ocean. I slept in a tent, and both the shower and bathroom were outside and set up in a very rudimental way. I felt like I was really being immersed in nature, and although it wasn’t the most comfortable living situation I really enjoyed it. Most of the time the work we did was fairly labor intensive. The goal of the farm, or rather garden, was to create an aesthetic space. We cleared the land and chopped, raked, and cut, all of the debris which was eventually burned. Also during my stay at this farm, I met two other people taking a gap year. What a coincidence that the first time I meet two other young women taking a gap year, who are the same age as me, and who are both from the United States, is on a random farm in the South of France?! I was ecstatic to have friends my own age and people I could relate to! We hung out on the farm a lot together and at the end of the week, we decided to make a weekend trip to Nice together.

I don’t know what it is with me and bad weather, but it either rained or was cold pretty much the entire time we were in Nice. I had imagined having a nice weekend, maybe lounging on the beach, swimming, strolling through sunny, city streets, but sadly that was not the case. Despite this, the visit was really fun. We tried to do as much exploring as we could even with the weather. We did end up walking down the beach, but I was wrapped up in the warmest coat that I brought. I also ate a lot of very good food and drank a lot of delicious coffee. After that weekend it was a bit sad bidding farewell to my friends, but I knew it was likely that we would see each other again. I hopped on a bus and made my way back to Lalizolle where I was greeted by the first snow of the year. My blog post about this will be up next so keep an eye out for that 🙂

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