Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Bonjour from Albi!

Bonjour! I’m currently in Albi, which is a fairly large city near Toulouse in the South of France. It’s quite famous in terms of domestic tourism, largely due to the Cathedral Saint-Cecile, the largest brick cathedral in the world. It’s hard to grasp the sheer size of it from photos alone, so trust me when I say that every time I see it, I feel like 13th Century Albigeois builders and the ancient Egyptians would’ve had a lot to talk about.

PROJECT: Tutoring & Immersion
WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Khouw

A day in the Life- Albi

I’ve been here for about three weeks with my host family, who are lovely. Unfortunately, I arrived here at the end of the school year, so most organised activities like choirs, sports teams, and music schools aren’t taking new pupils, so I spend most of my days exploring the region, and the others tutoring English to my host brother.

A day in the life- eg Cordes-sur-ciel

I started the day by walking to the bus station in town, which is about 30-40 minutes away. It’s funny that in Sydney I balk at the idea of making the 10 minute walk from the station to home, but here, an hour’s walk is no big deal.
I caught the Tarn Bus (Tarn is the region) to Cordes, my destination to explore for the day. The journey took about an hour and only cost €2, which is just under $3 AUD. I arrived in Cordes around lunch however most shops, including the Tourism Office, close from 12:30-2pm for lunch. It’s very annoying.

I went to Cordes to see ‘France’s favourite village,’ an ancient fortified village called Cordes-sur-ciel, meaning ‘Cordes in the sky’. I should’ve realised from the name that I would have to hike up a mountain to get to this sky city. The beautiful, sunny weather of the Midi (South France) climbed to 36°C as I slowly walked up, while I watched middle-aged French tourists get driven up in a cute little sightseeing train.

Walking through the village was literally like stepping back in time. The streets were made of cobblestones and every building looked straight out of a medieval movie. Signs hung out from shops with pictures of their craft, eg scissors for the hairdresser and necklaces for the jeweller’s, which is very Middle Ages.

I also went to the Museum of Sugar and Chocolate Arts, which is an art gallery comprising only sculptures made out of chocolate and/or sugar products. It’s a permanent museum and the only one of its kind in the world! The sculptures were pretty amazing- who knew sugar was not just for eating?

I got back to Albi around 5pm and walked back. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching episodes of Once Upon a Time. It’s an American TV show that I’ve been watching in French to improve my listening skills, and I am totally addicted! So that’s an example of one of my adventurous days. Other days I stay in and watch TV, go to dance classes, walk around etc before I give a lesson in the afternoon, but my exploring days tend to be more exciting!

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