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Adventure to Arles, France

This past weekend, CEA Grenoble embarked on our second of three excursions. Our destination this excursion was the South of France in a town called Arles. We left Grenoble Gare (train station in Grenoble) Saturday morning en route to Arles. Had a layover in a small town called Valence, where we treated ourselves to croissants, pain du chocolats, and coffee before hopping on our second train to Arles. Upon arriving, we headed to our hotel to check in, dropped off our stuff, and then out to explore Arles.

Our first stop on the trip was the Saturday market downtown, which, I am guessing, stretched for 2 miles end-to-end with everything from fruits, vegetables, French antiques, clothing, prepared food, and pastries. We were responsible for finding our own lunch at the market, so my  friends and I had the idea of buying various kinds of food, and having a picnic at a park nearby. We ended up eating paella, grilled potatoes, bread, cheese, and macaroons. It was the most phenomenal picnic I have ever had.

 Picnic with food from the Arles Saturday Market.
 My two friends, Heidi and Mikaela, enjoying
our picnic from the Arles Saturday market.
 Seafood paella from Arles Saturday market.

After our picnic in the park, we met back up with the group and went on a walking tour. We visited the Romanesque monuments such as Arles's own amphitheater which can seat over 20,000 people. It was built in 90 A.D. for chariot races and battles, but is now used for bullfighting, plays, and concerts. After the visit at the amphitheater, we went to the hospital that Van Gough was brought to after cutting off his ear, as well as the location that inspired one of his most famous works of art, "Starry Night". The tour guide was very informative (and spoke in English!) and overall, I enjoyed the tour of Arles.
 Inside Arles's amphitheater.

We went back to our hotel where we rested until dinner time. Nothing could've prepared me for such a fantastic dinner! It lasted roughly 2-and-a-half hours. 
 Outside view of Arles's amphitheater

Everyone had three separate glasses, one for water, one for red wine, and one for our aperitif (a refreshing, usually alcoholic drink, before a French meal). We began with a fish soup for our starter, combined with shredded cheese, croutons, and a mayonnaise curry. Following our starter, we had our main course meal, which was a delicious beef stew eaten over rice. The meat was perfectly cooked and combined with the rice, c'était délicieux! To top it all off, we had our choice of chocolate mousse or a rich strawberry ice cream (I chose chocolate mousse).
 Inside the columns of Arles's amphitheater.
 Our three glasses, left to right is
water, red wine, and the aperitif.

To believe all of this was in one day, we still had another day of our excursion! Our second and final day of our excursion took us to two towns; Sainte Marie De La Mer and Aigue Mort.

 The hospital that Van Gough was
brought to after cutting off his ear.

Sainte Marie De La Mer is a town by the sea (de la mer = by the sea), with a population of around 3,000 people. Saint Marie was lovely and it was lovely to be able to spend time by the beach after being surrounded by mountains for majority of my time here. We spent about two hours in Saint Marie before hopping back on the bus and headed to Aigue Mort, my personal favorite of the two towns! Aigue Mort is a small town that has a huge wall built around it. We were there during bull fighting day, so we actually got to see the bulls run in the makeshift stadium there. My favorite part of the trip was walking around the high walls of Aigue Mort and looking at the stucco rooftops of the town and watching the bulls run from an up high and safe distance. Aigue Mort is a maze of small alleyways with beautiful plants and vines running down the buildings, and all of it is protected by the massive walls that surround the town.

 Top of Aigue Mort wall that surrounds the town
 Beach view at Saint Marie de la Mer

Overall, the excursion was adventurous, informative, and I had a lovely time! Although it seemed packed into a short period of time, we explored the prettiest and most interesting parts of each town. I am excited for our third and final excursion to Avignon in December!

Isabel K. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in the French Alps, France. She is currently a junior studying International Business and Computer Science at Chapman University.

Isabel Kinsolving is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in French Alps: Grenoble, France, and is currently studying at Chapman University.
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