Our past week in France has been full of uncommon adventures.
At the beginning of the week, we had a wonderfully hectic day in Arles where we spent our time walking to all ends of the city to see extravagant exhibitions of photographers from around the world. These works challenged our perception of humanity, religion, composition and art as a whole, and were an amazing opportunity for creative education. Thómy, our photography teacher, led us around the exhibit. We also had the honor of speaking to another professional photographer and having a private viewing of Inframe Gallery, inspiring further motivation to create brilliant photographs of our own.
From Arles, we traveled by bus through the Provence mountains to a small village called Rémuzat, where we stayed in a beautiful country house known as a gîte. A gîte is a rural vacation house for travelers in France. This house was run by a French couple named Fabienne and Emmanuel, two travelers with a passion for hospitality. Millie said, “The couple that owned the gîte were wonderful and truly made the experience. They were so sweet and truly felt like family to us, making it hard to say goodbye.” Fabienne made us beautiful Syrian, Mediterranean and Moroccan dishes that we ate in the garden every night. In addition to these meals, our group was able to walk to the nearby supermarché for ingredients and prepare our lunches together. This was a great chance to immerse ourselves into French cooking and to improve the dynamic of our group even further.
We spent our days having illustration and watercolor art classes at the gîte, as well as the nearby graveyard with beautiful overview of the landscape. We also had many daytime adventures nearby, such as a lovely farm where we learned to make and use natural plant dyes, experiment with the process of indigo dyeing, create lavender sachets, and print on paper using leaves that we gathered. “Each day was an adventure in and of itself but my favorite adventure was going to the natural art workshop where we got to express our creativity in dying cloth with indigo and learning how to make various other dyes. More specifically I loved the drive back to the gîte when we got to see the mountains and breathe in the smell of fresh lavender as we passed the fields. It was one of the drives you never want to end and one of those moments that made me never want to leave the French countryside,” said Amina, one of the members of our group. Needless to say, it was a magnificent experience to create and be inspired by the nature around us. We also were able to explore the small medieval village near the farm on a small unexpected hike. After all of these adventures, time spent at the gîte relaxing and growing closer as a group was all the more appreciated. Brooke, one of our group members, commented that “Staying in the gite was amazing. We were able to bond so much in the four days we were in Rémuzat because it felt like a home rather than a hotel. We were able to be loud and joke around and play music for each other which I loved. I also enjoyed being in a small town and experiencing things like watching soccer matches and walking everywhere.”
After saying goodbye to Fabienne and Emmanuel, as well as the beautiful cat we named 16 in honor of its place as the 16th member of our group, we all headed to our individual host families. Here, we be involved in French daily life for two weeks in different villages in Provence. Here’s what one of our group members had to say about his experiences and his first day with his host family: “This past week has been amazing. We have gone to art festivals and bonded together before going out separate ways with our homestay families. My host family members are some of the nicest people in the world and I cannot wait to know more about them for the next two weeks!” Millie is also having a wonderful time with her host family, who are excellent French bakers! “My family of bakers are fantastic! They really make me feel at home and with a belly full of wonderful pastries!” We are all looking forward to furthering our immersion into french culture and language in this upcoming time with our new families!