This week followed the same routine as past weeks. We had class all day on Monday and Tuesday, and a field trip on Wednesday. This Tuesday, though, some of the professors took their students to the farmers market downtown. In Montpellier, there is a farmer’s market that happens every Tuesday and Sunday, downtown, by the aqueducts. At the farmer’s market, we were able to buy food as well as jewelry, clothing and other gifts and souvenirs. There were food stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables. There were also some vendors that were cooking food on site to be sold. There were stands with rotisserie chickens, and people cooking up huge pans of paella and sautéed vegetables, freshly baked pastries and breads, fresh sea food stands and nearly any kind of cheese a person could want.
I was at the market from 9 am until 12 pm with two different professors. I started to get very hungry around 11 and bought some freshly made falafel and hummus. The man that I bought it from was from the U.K. and could speak both English and French. He and his friend were able to help us with the French assignment that we had been given about the market. The falafel was also delicious.
I was also able to buy some souvenirs and gifts at the market. One vendor was selling rings with semi-precious stones for half off. There were also stands selling soaps and oils. I bought some lavender soap as a gift, since the Provence region of France is known for their lavender production. I also got a small tin for the soap to go in that has lavender flowers on it.
On Wednesday, our field trip was to Avignon. Avignon is a city that dates back thousands of years. Like Carcassonne, it has a gate surrounding it that originates from medieval times. The city had a somewhat different feel from Carcassonne, though. When we arrived in Carcassonne it felt as though we had arrived at an attraction that was mainly meant for tourists. Avignon, on the other hand, felt more like an actual city that just happens to be surrounded by a fortress wall.
In Avignon, we spent the day exploring the town. Some of us went to a contemporary art museum which showcased some interesting pieces. After that, we broke off into smaller groups. Some friends and I shopped around and observed the city. Avignon is known for its theater productions. There are many theater companies within the city. Actors roamed the streets, in costume, trying to persuade people to come and see their shows by giving them a sneak peak into the characters. There is a major theater festival in Avignon that had just ended before we arrived.
For dinner, the entire program ate a couscous dinner. Couscous is a traditional North African meal that made its way to France and has become quite popular there. It consists of couscous, a grain, with meat or vegetables and very distinct spices. The couscous restaurant that we ate in served delicious food and provided an interesting cultural experience.