Wilmington Friends School France 2018
June 15, 2018
Arrival in Paris! We got some delicious pastries — croissants and pains au chocolat, explored the Musée d’Orsay and checked into our hostel. Some of our exploration was more like sleep walking after a long flight. More updates to come after a good night’s sleep!
June 16, 2018
Day two was another action-packed day filled with excitement and adventure. We started off the day with a tasty croissant and baguette to prepare us to go to the Eiffel Tower. Several metro rides and 674 steps later, we were at the top of the Eiffel tower looking down on all of Paris. Then we headed to the Arc de Triomphe, which looks a lot bigger in person! We then walked down the Champs Elysées which is one of the wealthiest areas of Paris. We witnessed street entrepreneurs who would offer a 20 minute ride in a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or Mercedes for €75. After that we went to the Latin Quarter and had some free time and crepes. We finished the day with a boat cruise on the river Seine. Our legs will feel it tomorrow!
– Connor M.
June 17, 2018
Our third day in France was filled with many fun and unique activities. We started the day with the group going to the Louvre. The architecture and the world of art blew everyone away, and afterwards students were given free time to roam the museum on their own (technically groups of three) and see what they could find. The group later ventured deep into the Catacombs, buried deep below the city. It was a series of connected, narrow tunnels filled with skeletons and various bones on the walls. The bones were all ordered with the skulls to create a perfectly manicured wall on every side. Half the group really took their time and almost got left behind, which added to the creepy but interesting atmosphere down below. It was another successful day in France for Global Works!
June 18, 2018
Day four consisted of mostly transportation. From 8am to 6pm, we were on a bus from Paris to Avignon. We saw farmland you would see in Nebraska but with a lot more hills and less corn. Oh! And there were a lot of cows. When we arrived at our hotel, we rushed over to a papal palace that was inhabited over the years by nine popes, two of whom were unofficial. Afterwards, we had diner at a nearby restaurant, Le Petit Comptoir. Half of us, including myself, ordered salmon. We also shared some frog legs (basically tiny chicken wings) and some charcuterie and fromage. Finally, after making a stop back at the palace for a photo op and to see the sunset, we went back to the hotel. In comparison to our previous three days in Paris, today was more relaxed. It is a contrast between the city of Paris and the villas of Southern France.
– Weldin D.
June 19, 2018
Today was very interesting. After a quick breakfast, we went to the market in Aix en Provence, where we bought all sorts of things, from wooden spoons to vinyl records. Then we went to meet the bus. Or so we thought. The bus, it turns out, broke down. After a wonderful experience with French customer service, we eventually got a new bus, which was slightly larger than necessary, but got to us to where we needed to be! We then went to the Baux de Provence, where we took in the breathtaking views of vineyards and olive groves and locked one of our own in the stocks. After an hour or so of sightseeing, we went back to Avignon and had a Moroccan dinner, some of us trying couscous and tajine for the first time. And that’s how we spent our last day in Avignon.
– Danny N.
June 20, 2018
This Wednesday was packed – literally – as we said our goodbyes to Avignon and made our way to Carcassonne. Before we left, however, there were two stops to make: Firstly, after breakfast at the hotel, we trod down to the Pont d’Avignon, where, led by Mrs. Butterfield, there was some attempt at our own rendition of the Pont d’Avignon song. Meanwhile, I added to my collection of souveniers, which now numbered 7 locational coins and one 0-euro bill from Baux de Provence. After admiring the fast-moving current of river below, a short pidgeon fight, and the rendered-incomplete bridge (which we learned was made upon request after a man, claiming to have heard god tell the bridge to be built, proved his honesty to the city by carrying an extremely heavy boulder out of the city to the river), we headed out. Number two was the markets. Unfortunately, we had the date wrong- the weekly markets were not open. The permanant ones were, however, and so we gathered a bit of this and that for a picnic later. Having finished our tasks in Avignon, it was time to leave for the Pont du Gard, a giant Roman aqueduct left to time. It seemed we had gotten a head start today, because at both bridges, there were very few, if any, people when we arrived. After admitting the double layered arches and the ~.5° slope of the construction, we managed to snag a bench/table – rare enough – made more so by the fact that it was in the shade! It was here we unfurled our picnic, only to discover we had much more than we thought! Three baguettes, four different sausages (all delicious), goat cheese wrapped in leaves, black and green olive tapenads, niçoise olives, ham, apple tart, a strange meat-bread-thing whose name escapes me, olive bread, the list goes on. Needless to say, our lunch was delicious. Finally, there were no more stops. It was time for a two hour ride to Carcassonne, where we would meet our host families. I think everyone was apprehensive. Camille had reassured us of their forgiveness, but what if there was some custom that we offended greatly by accident? Could we speak French well enough? After greeting the families (Danny and I were to be with a kind couple named Max and Myriam), people seemed to discover that this wasn’t so bad at all. After chatting for a bit, our respective /familles d’acceuil/ took us home. After a trip to what I can only assume was the baguette store, and a short wait, we settled down to a three-and-a-half-hour dinner, and considerably reduced any awkwardness with constant trading of stories and backgrounds. I went to bed with a good feeling that the rest of the trip would be a good one.
June 21, 2018
The day began like any other, with sounds that meant it was time to get up, coming from things ranging from alarms to roosters. Except one thing was different: we were starting our first day with our host families. What had exhibited itself as awkwardness the night before had morphed into a comforting feeling from the family. Once we were sent on our way with our kindly packed lunches, we met near the local highschool to start our journey. We made our way over to the Cité of Carcassonne where we could see the distant mountains as well as the beautiful surrounding city. Included in our exploration was a fun scavenger hunt that sent us all over the grounds looking for obscure or grand landmarks that would conclude in eating the lunches packed by our families!
After our visit, we took a shuttle ride to do some service work in which we cut and cleared a lot of weeds and vines to unearth parts of a wall and road that had been used by all kinds of ancient civilizations for travel like the Romans and Vikings! It is part of the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela. During our work, we were sure to drink lots of water due to the scorching 97* (F) heat, as well as discover plenty of escargot shells of days gone by. Taking the shuttles back to the highschool, we found ourselves with a sense of accomplishment, and slight exhaustion. We would all head back to our host families to finish the long, yet fun, day with a night of relaxation, as well as exploration of the Fête de la musique, a festival of music and celebration of the summer solstice. Bonne nuit!
– Oliver G.
June 22, 2018
We continued to work on our service project and made great progress on clearing the wall. We even began to help shaping stones to add to a section of the wall which will be part of a bridge. Through great teamwork, some of us were able to move a heavy log that was resting in the swampy area and was in the way of the path. A local journalist came to get a photo of us and to learn a little about the project for her article. After a few hours of hard work, we went to the house of our project leader’s (Bernard) friend for lunch. She let us use her pool which was very refreshing, and we all had a great time. The two children we worked alongside were very enthusiastic during our game of keep it up/passing and the beach ball. I accidentally threw the ball over the fence and had to go look for it for a couple of minutes. Luckily, Toby found it at the bottom of the dried up stream bed after it had rolled down the hill. The energy sort of died down for a bit, but then I got pushed back in the pool and we played round two of our game. After the pool, we went back to our host families. My sister and I played soccer with our host brother, Thomas. He is very energetic all of the time. Then we settled down and played some board games before dinner. We all sat down and ate pizza together outside with ice cream for dessert. The pizza tasted very different from American pizza, and we did not use our hands to eat it. After dinner we went back to the Chateau de Carcassonne from the other day and saw the yellow circles from the perfect perspective. Then, at 10 pm, we stopped at a cafe and ate waffles.
– Elise J.
June 23, 2018
Today Elise and I woke up and ate a breakfast of baguettes and cereal. There was a gigantic bug that decided to sit itself right outside of our door so for about five minutes we were too afraid to leave the room. Then Elise worked up the courage to run past it and I followed her. We had a quiet ride to the group’s meet up point with our host dad and chatted a little about our plans for Sunday. When we met up with our group we laid out our plans for beach day. Our host families provided tents and beach activities which we promptly set up upon arrival. We drove to Collioure and the views on the way there were amazing. There were no clouds in the sky which caused the Mediterranean to sparkle in the sunlight. The trees were very green and the vineyards were organized into terraces on the hills we drove through. Collioure is best known as a sardine and anchovies port for France, and members of our group purchased these products while we were there. The beach itself was very rocky with a lot of little pebbles of varying sizes. There was a biathlon (swimming and running) taking place on the beach. Because it was a stage of the World Cup finals, there were people racing in it from all over the world. In waves, we went into the water to swim or dip our feet. The water was freezing cold! However, what was even more shocking was that it was a topless beach (Editor’s note: This is the norm in France!). After laying in the sun for a while (coated in sunscreen) a small group decided to go off and wander through the nearby streets. Here we found many shops dedicated to swim apparel but also knives. Toby bought himself a small keychain and Ms. Bulk bought some shoes (of course). Mrs. Butterfield saw some cat themed items and considered purchasing them but eventually decided against it. It was very hot out and the shops provided little reprieve from the sunlight. We returned to the beach and talked together for a time. There were several laughs as people told stories from their stay with their host families and shared their impressions of France. The heat pushed us towards the ice cream stand. The most interesting flavor there was Violette which was bright purple and had an aromatic, floral taste. It was quite good. With Camille we walked back to the beach and played a card game called ERS. The goal of the game is to amass the most cards by slapping the deck when certain cards or combinations of cards appeared. We had a six person game going with people coming in and out. Eventually Camille won but it came down to a tough match between her and Elise. This ended our day at the beach and we began to ride back to Carcassonne.
June 24, 2018
Today, we spent the day bonding with our individual host families. Luke and I went to a lake where there is an obstacle course similar to the show Wipeout and giant slides where if you went down on a boogie board, you could skid across the entire lake! Later on in the day we all watched a World Cup match and kicked around a soccer ball for a bit. Leah and Elise went up a mountain and met a local legend of Carcassonne who everyone calls ‘Uncle’. He’s lived in that house in the mountains for over 50 years and rarely leaves, but apparently is quiet friendly! Danny and Toby hiked up a mountain and enjoyed the view. Oliver and Weldin went exploring in a nearby cave! Overall, we all further strengthened our connections with our host families while having fun and exploring Carcassonne and the surrounding area!
– Connor M.
June 25, 2018
Our last real day in France started with saying goodbye to our host families. I personally had an excellent time with them. Before leaving Carcassonne, we took a bike ride through the city and down the Canal-du-Midi. Watching how the boats pass through the locks to move up the higher parts of the canal was fascinating. After our van ride to Toulouse, we walked around the city and through the Basilica of Sain-Sernin. We still don entirely know what the difference is between a cathedral and a basilica but we have some ideas. After a free period we met up for our last dinner together. 4/5 stars I had a really good steak. After dinner we went on a convoluted search for crepes (that I was against, given that I was tangry (tired/angry)). But even as the day’s leader, majority ruled and we enjoyed our last evening in France together eating crepes at the Place du Capitole in Toulouse. That was the end of our time in France that wasn’t spent in an airport.
– Weldin D.
More photos have been added to the Google Album!