I’ve never been one for making New Year’s Resolutions, but this semester I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll be more proactive and really make the most of living abroad. Last semester I didn’t really make much of an effort to log out of Netflix and get out of bed bright and early on the weekends. I didn’t see as much of France as I probably should’ve. So that has to change. To kick off the new semester, my housemate Rachel and I took a bus to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, a small Provençal town on the other side of the river. It wasn’t a big journey. Baby steps.
Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to us, most tourist attractions were closed. Apparently tourists don’t visit Provence during winter. Nevertheless, it was nice to wander around somewhere different and the weather was surprisingly warm. Every now and then we’d look at each other, then at the glaring sun, then back at each other and exclaim ‘It’s January!’. We looked like proper tourists. Like the wannabe photographer I am, I had my camera around my neck while we took it in turns to read the guidebook and map we got from the tourist office. The main thing I wanted to do was visit Fort Saint-André, a medieval fortress dating from the 14th century. The walk there was steep, but ultimately worth it as the views were pretty spectacular. I really wanted to visit the gardens inside the fort, alas they were closed. We strolled around, I took some snaps. It was a Saturday so some sort of flea market was taking place in the middle of town, so that was something to see.
It isn’t a French day out unless you go to a pâtisserie. We weren’t very daring with our cake choices. Rachel opted for a chocolate eclair while I chose a mille-feuille (a vanilla slice). A safe but brilliant choice. The best part was that it was wrapped in a box with a little ribbon, like a little Christmas present. It was twee but I liked it! The other tourist attraction I really wanted to see was Tour Philippe-le-Bel. And that’s exactly what I got to do: see it. The tower isn’t open for tourists to climb until February, so that was disappointing. We looked up at the tower, agreed it was a good tower and then turned around to walk back to the bus stop. It’s safe to stay we’ll be returning to Villeneuve once everything reopens.
Ok, so it wasn’t an entirely successful day, but I enjoyed it and it’s something to cross off the list. That’s right, we have a list of things we want to do before we leave. It’s a good idea to have a list, as long as you stick to it. Not everything on the list needs to be a mammoth task or an expensive ordeal, like visiting another country. They could be as small as finally going to that restaurant you’ve walked past a million times and always say ‘I really fancy eating there!’ but never got round to. Of course, I am hoping to accomplish bigger things like take a trip to Spain, and visit other towns and cities in the area, but there’s still plenty of time for that before I leave.