day 5: i had the entire day off from group activities so i got to spend the whole day with vanessa. we met up early and went to the louvre. i got free tickets through the program. i was pretty excited. we got there really early and went straight for mona and then went to the winged victory statue and venus de milo. after that we went into decorative arts and ended up in napolean's apartments. that was the coolest thing we saw! we really enjoyed them. then we left. the louvre isn't really my thing after all. it's just not the type of art i enjoy but i'm still glad to have seen all the famous stuff! after that we tried walking to the bon marche market but it was closed :( so we found a street market and i bought soaps and the most amazing cheese ever!!! then we grabbed a small lunch nearby and people watched. after that we walked to the luxemburg gardens and soaked up the sun. the gardens were probably my favorite site in paris. i absolutely loved them. then it was time to say goodbye to nessa. time flew so quickly but it was really just wonderful to spend time with her! later that night i went to a cheap dinner with valerie. we got pizza which was good because i was having a french food overload. we split a pizza and a bottle of wine and only spent about 10euros each. love it!
day 6: we had to get up SO early to leave at 5:30 a.m. to catch a train to dax. dax is known for it's annual bullfighting festival and it has many other spanish influences. we made a stop for lunch and i got a quiche and a chocolate crossiant and then we got a short tour of the area. vincent went to school there for a short time and we got to see the house he lived in for awhile. we made a stop in the tiny town that vincent was born in and got to see the baptismal font that vincent was baptized in. that was pretty cool. after that we went to pau where we were staying and had dinner. the hotel was in the middle of NOWHERE and there was nothing to do. it was pretty rough but it was good to have an early night after our early morning.
day 7: we made a stop in toulouse where we visited a couple of very cool churches and saw the university vincent studied at. we had an independent lunch and i ended up having chicken and frites with some terrible white wine. i wasn't too impressed. the city is cool though. it's kind of dirty/gritty compared to the other places we visited and i liked it. seems like it's a lot of students. they have a big beautiful square that had a market set up when we arrived. after that we went to carcassone which is a medieval walled city. i was really excited about this stop but when we went for a tour i realized how insanely touristy it was and immediately was grumpy. i took some alone time to walk around the area and then went back to the hotel for quiet time before dinner. we had a group dinner at the hotel and then some of us went for a nighttime walk around the city walls and then grabbed a drink. probably my least favorite day.
day 8: this day completely made up for my crabby day! we had long bus rides through countryside and i enjoyed the quiet time to myself. we made a stop at the pont du gard which an amazing roman aqueduct in great condition. it was a great stop to make! then we went to avignon which i immediately fell in love with. it is another walled in city but so much better than carcassone! it's not touristy really and it's more spread out. it's the old papal city. me valerie and john grabbed sandwiches and walked up to the garden on top of a hill top. we sat in the shade and then took some pictures of the view. after that we did a bit of shopping and i finally found a store with mustard and honey! all the others i checked out were always closed. i was very happy! then john and i got crepes! yum! then we drove on to lyon which is a pretty big city. we went to a fancy restaurant for dinner that had terrible service but the worlds yummiest asparagus soup and then went for a walk along the river. i like the feeling of lyon and was excited to explore the next day!
one more update to come!