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Arles & the Camargue

The biggest surprise I had with signing up for CEA was all that's included with the fee. From airport transportation to group activities in Aix, all the way to day and weekend trips! So far, my group has been lucky enough to visit many different local places with the help of our local CEA study abroad Staff. Our October trip was to Arles, the Camargue, and a small village, Aigues Mortes. It was wonderful!

We all loaded onto the bus early Saturday morning then drove an hour to Arles. Arles has an amazing market that is much, much cheaper than Aix. We enjoyed the morning walking around, shopping, and eating from the vendors. In the afternoon, our director, Vivienne, lead us on a mini-tour of Arles. We visited town hall, the famous yellow cafe from Van Gogh's painting, ruins of an old Roman amphitheater and an old Roman coliseum.  Arles felt like a miniature Rome. I couldn't believe how much history this town held.

 The famous yellow cafe that Van Gogh painted
 The colosseum in Arles, France

After our time in Arles, we met back at the bus and joined up with the CEA Grenoble students. On our bus ride to the Camargue, a CEA Alumni who lives on a ranch in the Camargue gave us an explanation of the area. The Camargue is a large, marshy area along the Mediterranean. It is known for a unique breed of horses, bulls, salt and rice. It is a largely agriculturally based region which is very obvious as we passed fields upon fields of crops and animals. We enjoyed an hour long ride along the marshes where we were lucky enough to see a few of the famous pink flamingos of the Camargue.
 A selfie on a Camargue horse. I was so excited!

Our evening was spent in Saintes Maries de la Mer. This town is famous because old stories say that Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary, sister of Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene arrived by boat in ancient times. We were lucky enough to be in town on a festival weekend celebrating their arrival. After wandering the town and a group dinner, we all went to the beach to watch locals reenact the arrival. It was quite a show! Filled with fire, lots of people, horses, and bulls. It actually ended up being really entertaining. 
 We walked on the ROOF of the cathedral in Saintes Marie.

The next morning we loaded onto the bus for the final destination of our trip. We spent the day in a little village known as Aigues Mortes. We were lucky enough to watch the last day of their towns festival. This included herding bulls down the roads of the city and then the local men would run around in the arena, teasing the bulls. The games were very entertaining but also highly dangerous! It was amazing to see how different the towns can be just in the south of France. Compared to Aix, it was obvious how influenced by Spain this city was. All the locals were dressed in "cowboy" clothing and riding boots. Heaven for a horse lover like myself!
 Some local "cowboys" after herding the bulls into the pen.
 Aigues Mortes riverside.

CEA Aix really put on a wonderful weekend filled with many experiences. It's amazing how I had no idea this was included in my fees! Each excursion we have gone on has taught me so much about the region. I can't wait to see more with the group on our December trips!

Sophia Hendrix is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a sophomore at Ohio University.

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