Two days ago, following up to three hours worth of SAT subject tests, my classmates and I boarded our trusty travel buses and set our sights to the south of France. After a long and relatively sleepless night aboard the bus, punctuated by multiple movies and a couple of cold pitstops during odd hours of the night, we arrived in the town of Carry-le-Rouet, just outside of Marseilles. Compared to the cold dreary drizzle of Rennes, the sunny blue skies and clear ocean were a welcome invitation. At the first chance we got, my friends and I jumped into the rather icy waters, rejoicing to be in the sun and water once more. One of our teachers also led what was supposed to be a short hike but turned into a three hour signing, sea-urchin petting, bonding excursion. The numerous hills we surmounted under the happily blazing sun and the four course free-for-all buffet dinner, bolstered by the lack of wifi anywhere other than the small hotel lobby, ensured a good night’s sleep to make up for the previous night’s lack thereof.
Modern Van Gogh: sunflowers iconized in perfume
The following day (today), we bussed into Arles, a city filled with remnants of ancient civilization leading all the way back to a Roman-influenced amphitheater. The visit was free, allowing us to roam around the city guided by our own interests and a basic city map, which is my new favorite kind of wandering: purposefully lost. My friends and I visited the cloister and the Van Gogh museum before stopping for lunch at a small pasta place tucked alongside one of the side streets. The Van Gogh museum was interesting, briefly showcasing his works as they fell into two color periods alongside pieces and artists that influenced him along the way. In addition to the permanent collection was a so-called “Van Gogh Live” exhibit that started out with an interesting series of modern takes on his pieces, set in a current cultural context, on a variety of mediums and featuring many quotes from the artist himself. That was a take on one of the “classical masters” that I’d never seen or considered before, so I enjoyed that aspect of it. After lunch, I explored the remains of a Roman Amphitheater and an actual theater, even getting up to sing and dance onstage a bit with my friend R.M. A final relaxing pause on the beach was a fitting end to our first full day in the south of France.