A 3-day tour of Aix en Provence
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

So I finally had my OFII appointment to get my carte de sejour (residence permit). Even if you have a VISA to stay in France, it’s not official until you get this stamp in your passport. During the appointment, you take a medical exam (lung x-ray, eye-sight, general health), hand in some additional documents (proof of address in Paris), and buy a timbre (stamp) for 55 Euros (student). And this has to be done within the first 3 months you’re in Paris or you’re technically not legally allowed to stay. Oops!

The problem was that my appointment had to be rescheduled twice. The immigration office picked the date of our Rungis field trip for my first appointment, and then the next date was during our trip to Aix en Provence. When I tried to reschedule the second date, they refused to do it until the appointment had expired. In the end, it took me more than 5 months!

Anyways, here are some pictures from our trip to Aix en Provence last week. It was quite a scenic vacation with lots of food and wine. Maybe more wine than food.

One of our first sites was a drive through the Verdon Gorges.

Passing by the canyons. Some parts of the road were dangerously narrow, looking over some very steep rocky terrain. The bus driver had to honk before turning at every corner.

We stopped by a candied fruit factory.

We didn't get to see much candying action but we got to taste an assortment of candied fruits.

Then, of all places, we went to visit an old mine.

I never thought I'd ever see one of these yellow hardhats again.

For lunch, we stopped by a family run restaurant and farm. It doesn't get anymore home-made and comforting than this. We came in through the front door of what seems to be their home and enjoyed a meal in their cozy dining room which had a real fireplace.

First, a terrine appetizer.

Followed by a winter greens tart.

And a generous pot of tender, fall-off-the-bone baked chicken.

Chasing chickens in their farm behind the home/ restaurant.

Then, we took a long hike.

The hike was on some very red soil.

And it was actually a real hike. Lots of muddy trails, hills to climb, and streams of water to cross.

Some more views.

Here's our Chef snapping some pictures after climbing to one of the highest hills.

Say cheese Anglo A!

Then, went to a small winery for dinner and wine tasting.

We must have tasted more than 8 wines, they just kept coming back with new bottles, it was endless!

The most talked about dessert. This was a chestnut terrine on vanilla sauce. It was very good except it had way too much butter! It's made with just chestnuts (cooked in vanilla and milk) and extra, extra butter! Our Chefs were joking on the bus about this, he said he explained to the cook how to make beurre promade (softened butter). You can see in the picture, there were huge chunks of butter throughout the terrine.

The next day, we did some more scenic site seeing.

Look, in the distance is the castle owned by Christian Dior.

IL got quite amused with making shadows. Actually, we all did.

A closer peek at Christian Dior's castle.

Some more views in Aix en Provence.

Stopping for another comfort meal.

I've never come across this until this now, a terrine of scrambled eggs.

Some sort of seafood dish.

Some sort of meat stew. We couldn't figure out what kind of meat this was.

Then, we visited a paper factory in another small town.

Our last stop was the walled city of Avignon.

The Church inside Avignon.

It's actually quite an impressively large city to be contained within a stone wall. There's lots of shopping, hotels, residential buildings, grocery stores and everything you find in any city.

Our Chef surprised us all with a ticket for the merry-go-round. All 20 of us grown-ups got on the merry-go-round. I suspect they had a little bit too much to drink by now!

And here we go...

And that was the end! After Avignon, we headed to the train station back to Paris.

 

Well? Let me know what you think. Write me a comment below!