Les Vacances

Hello!

I’ve got a HUGE post in the works to share about one of the best days in France (last Saturday), but I have other pictures and such to share!IMG_0724

(Sorry about this picture… didn’t have a tripod, wanted to have a picture of myself at Malpasset, and I used the self-timer, and then hopped over rocks…)

So, the vacation was two weeks long. The weather was generally crappy the whole time, though I did explore a little bit… and watch too much TV (Allez, Amerique!~ les jeux olympiques d’hiver et LOST sur “l’ordi”; Go, America! ~ the Winter Olympic games and LOST on the computer. “l’ordi” is the slang for “l’ordinateur.” ).

I had made plans (or attempted to), but let’s be honest… us lycéens, both French and American, did not do a good job of making plans. My first Sunday of break was spent with Nathalie, her friends Stephanie and Christophe as well as two of their kids, exploring Malpasset. It was a beautiful day, and I took far too many pictures. IMG_0636

(The link below leads the the source of both pictures; it’s in FRENCH, but you can find about it. As always, click the pictures for the full-size image.) malpassetafter  Malpasset before and after.

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Malpasset is a valley near Fréjus were a dam broke in 1950; Dad and I saw the memorial for those who died in the catastrophe before he left (it’s right by the Roman arena). 423 people died or disappeared, and it was the worst such disaster to ever occur in France.

Anyway, the remains are still there, IMG_0735and you can tell where it flooded down the valley… there are huge stones everywhere, IMG_0660and despite the tragedy of it, it’s rather breathtaking. It’s now a park where people can walk/hike, but they ask you to be respectful.

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IMG_0847(The first is the sign; the insert is a bigger version of the text translated into English.)

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It was clear and beautiful, and the stroll was through a lovely (sparse) forest, and the landscape—rocky hills similar to the Gorges of Verdon—was striking. The above map shows the area. It wasn’t a long “hike” IMG_0659but I enjoyed it, running around in the sunshine!

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The trail on the way there.

(Sorry about all the weird contrast and colors! And the excessive amounts of photos…)  

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Do you see what I mean about striking?

I didn’t realize I had taken pictures of my travel companions (that I can post on the internet, I think. There aren’t faces and one is a dog. There’s some super strict law about images on the internet in France.) First one is Nathalie hiking up a hill, and the second is Benji by the water.

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When we actually got to the Dam, I make my way slowly across the side of the mountain (covered in huge rocks and pieces of the broken dam) until I climbed up onto the dam itself, joining a select number of similar-minded daredevils.

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Unfortunately, I don’t actually have pictures of this (Stephanie does, and maybe I’ll ask if I can have a digital copy of them, because I was just standing up there looking pleased with myself), though I do have pictures of the view from the top!

(These [below] aren’t it… the pictures of the view from the top were mostly looking down, not so much out… and the picture of me was again with the camera-sans-tripod-plus-timer! I was terrified that I would drop it or it would fall and break.)

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Things like the above made it hard to cross the stream; I clambered across and then had to help with the transport of the two little boys’ bikes.

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I’m including this one despite the fact you can see the boy; again, you can’t see his face clearly so I hope it’s alright. I just want to show how HUGE these bits of dam/rocks are. The boys could stand up to full height in the tunnel under the bigger.

 IMG_0721IMG_0726_editAgain… self-timer, rocks… But you can kind of see the Dam in the background of this one!  

Finally, I came back down and we slowly made our way back over hills to the cars, ignoring the path in favor of walking across sparse brush. 🙂IMG_0781IMG_0778IMG_0787IMG_0789The next big adventure of break with the exception of Carnaval was shopping in Cannes. I don’t have pictures of shopping itself, nor the train ride, but I have a few from the beach where mes copaines (“copain” is different than “ami” in that an ami is a close friend, while  a copain  is more of an acquaintance) and I hung out when we were finished shopping.

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I don’t get it; this seems to be the “cool” thing to do for teenagers, but I didn’t find it to be particularly interesting. The train ride was the most exciting part (13e for round-trip, but I don’t remember if we had some sort of reduction), but I’m glad I got to see the “rest” of Cannes. IMG_0883

But seriously. Cannes is typical commercialization, and it reminded me of how Nice was nice for shopping. Dad and I really didn’t miss out on anything by skipping over it on that trip along the coast. Cannes is famous for the film festival,IMG_0906 and it’s a really ritzy area—yachts galore, a long boulevard along the coast, spacious sandy beaches, lots of people, as well as high-end boutiques.

Yet again, the experience was good, as well as the exposure to “teenage” culture (the girls I went with are in troisième, which is in “college” [middle school equivalent, 4 years instead of 3]; AEU, they would be in 9th grade), though it was significantly awkward due to the fact that I only knew one of them. IMG_0902

They didn’t make much of an effort to include me, and I felt like I was being dragged along for the sake of proving how very kind and welcoming the one girl I knew is. I hated that, and I felt like a tag-along the entire time, hanging out with girls that I wasn’t comfortable with, whose names I didn’t learn until it was over (not that I could tell them apart anyway, as they ALL LOOKED THE SAME TO ME. It was scary!).

[Sorry, that was a bit harsh, blog readers; I’m still a bit miffed about this outing. I trust people so easily, and when I feel like I’m being used, it dashes my opinions of people. I don’t want to be a fashionable accessory or an addition to someone’s collection of foreign friends. End rant, though I will always have more to say about this.]

SIDE NOTE: … There are a total of three pictures of me from this shopping trip, and I honestly don’t like any of them. (Though I would post them anyway.) They’re posed and not like me, and I hate that. These are on facebook, but I will not put them on here. (Besides that law thing. So you get pictures of Cannes, though I took quite a few pictures of a flock of sailboats, which intrigued me. xD)

What I learned, though, is that I have ISSUES with shopping, which are only enflamed by similar shopping trips. It more or less goes against lots of the things I believe in (for example, shopping is bad for the environment, what with transportation and the environmental impact of mass-production, combined with the wasteful ways of the industry & the consumers). I enjoy shopping with real friends, and I’m more likely to enjoy it at Goodwill, where I don’t feel like a selfish and wasteful person.

The sad thing is, I will continue to join in on shopping trips here, because it is a social activity. It gets me out of the house, exposes me to more French language and sights, as well as the opinions and behaviors of French teenagers outside of the school environment. Maybe sometime the shopping won’t be a burden, and hopefully I can figure out where the thrift stores are around here, as those are infinitely more amusing (and cheaper).

-Aly

P.S. Picture count from the vacation:

Malpasset: 218
Carnaval: 718
Everything else: 50

[Trips to McDo’s/Quick count: 5 ]

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