April 4, 2013 · 5:43 pm

Better late than never.

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Highlights:

  1. The beautiful landscape. I said it before, but I’ll say it again: there really is no place like Provence. The weather didn’t exactly behave, but even in the cold and rain the views were spectacular and to be surrounded by nature was, per usual, just the kind of getaway I needed. One of our first excursions upon arriving was a short hike in the hills outside Aix, and I spent the time half-listening to the guide, picking fresh rosemary and thyme, and staring at Mont Sainte-Victoire.
  2. Art, art, and more art. This was a school-sponsored study trip, and it was so well-organized. The theme was Cézanne’s Aix-en-Provence and van Gogh’s Arles and Saint-Rémy. We explored everything from Cézanne’s atelier to the asylum where van Gogh spent his final years, as well as many of the outdoor viewing points and natural subjects that served as the artists’ inspiration. 
  3. Ruins. Arles is built on ancient roman history, and it’s so cool to see a city that combines modernity with old southern french lifestyle amidst these ancient amphitheaters and ruins. With these elements juxtaposed amongst one another, Arles is really timeless.
  4. Color. I just love the colors in the south. Shutters are painted in pastels, roofs are terra cotta, walls are distressed yellow stone, and the landscape is green and gold. It’s easy to see where these artists found their inspiration.
  5. The markets. We only visited the market in Arles for a few minutes, but it was a necessity: there is nothing like a Provencal market. I stocked up on artisanal soaps, dried lavender, jam, and calissons- a specialty that combines almond paste and candied melon. Think marzipan on crack. To die for. But the markets are always an aesthetic experience as well. My favorite booths are the spices and teas; between the colors and smells, it’s happy sensory overload.
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