I strongly believe in the phrase “Ya learn something new every day.” We’re thrown into a classroom for a good portion of our lives and expected to know more information than sometimes capable, about a world most of us have never seen or been a part of.
I remember learning all about the Roman Empire and the French Revolution and WWI while sitting in AP History. I never fully grasped the importance of these historic times though, not as well as I have the past two weeks while adventuring through France.
I just got back from a full weekend in Provence where history was thrown in my face. It was wonderful! The first stop was Avignon, where I picnicked at the Pont-du-Gard – the oldest bridge in the entire world! It was constructed halfway through the 1st century AD by the Romans who built the bridge as transportation and to supply water for Nîmes. Archeologists have found markings on some of the limestone, numbering or points of support, indicating how much care went into the construction,.
Next was the Palais des Papes, or what I like to call the Vatican of France. Holy beautiful! And wow again, so much history. In the 14th century, the popes fled the violent chaos of Rome and built the palace in 1335. The Palace is enormous – hosting 25 rooms that range from petit chambers to extravagant dining halls. It took a couple of hours to walk through and was worth every minute. Original documents and biblical stones have been rediscovered, which are put on display throughout.
Even with my initial interest in history, I don’t think I’ve ever been so overwhelmed (in the best way) in my entire life. And this was just day one!
The amusing city of Arles took up most of my Saturday. Arles was completely conquered by the Roman Empire in the first century BC. The original coliseum and theater are still standing to this day. And you can visit more modern famous locations, like scenes from a Van Gogh painting! It was magical!
I was completely enchanted by the city and it’s history and uniqueness. Arles has it’s own little feel – funky yet welcoming and what one might call a little “hipster.” I bought a yummy lunch at the famous market, along with some local goodies like jewelery and clothing.
Finally, Sunday, I was in Aix! (-en-Provence that is) Now it was a Sunday so most of the town was sleeping or in tourist overload, but we still got some history. Architecture in Aix is very unique, a mix of both Roman and French-Gothic. The Cathedral especially was painfully beautiful!
Walking around Aix was awe-inspiring. Every turn was something new and historic. There was also original cobblestone which made the dreary day a little (or a lot) better.
Basically, it was a whole lot of history. And every day has been like that. Not just because I’m taking a French History class but because I’m living in the history. I’m taking these adventures and losing myself in foreign cities and learning more than I could ever imagine. Will I remember every bit of information? Probably not. But I will remember the adventure. I will remember the pride France has. And I really will remember the history.
It’s what you do, not just what you learn.