Bonjour à tous et à toutes et bienvenue à ma première entrée de blog de l’année 2013! Since we last spoke, I flew back home to Scotland to spend the festive period with all my family and friends; I travelled to places like Paris and Barcelona to visit friends; and I recommenced my studies and my life in Toulouse. Whilst I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in France, it was great to be able to return, albeit rather briefly, to all the old faces and familiar climes; the fact always remains that on n’est nulle part mieux que chez soi – there’s no place like home!
Just last weekend, I embarked on a road trip with four French friends to Carcassonne, an olde worlde southern French fortress town famous for its historic castle, and Andorra, the small country at the heart of the Pyrénées mountain range which borders France and Spain. After packing into my friend’s car, a fifteen year old Rover which he affectionately called his vieille et fidèle bagnole (’trusty old banger’), we set off on our journey. With my roommate as chief navigator, we headed south on l’autoroute (the motorway) before coming off and taking a more scenic route, so as to avoid the many expensive péages (toll booths).
Upon arriving, I could see why so many tourists flock to Carcassonne – le château (the castle) is immensely picturesque with its imposing tourelles (turrets) and grandiose portcullis and drawbridge (la herse et le pont-levis), surrounded by its own douves – the moat. We took a fascinating tour of the museum which the castle has now become and I actually wound up learning a lot about the local history… well, on en apprend tous les jours – you learn something new every day!
We continued onward to Andorra and our proximity to the small Pyrenean nation became evident as we travelled higher and higher into the hills and the temperature consequently got lower and lower! The Andorran scenery was breathtaking, with snowy mountainsides all around and charming little chalet villages dotted here and there. From a linguistic perspective I also found the country very interesting, as the first language there is neither French nor Spanish, but Catalan. Fortunately for me, I found that they spoke good French too as when I asked a shopkeeper “Où sont les toilettes?“, she understood perfectly!
I am planning many more excursions within France later in the spring, and I shall of course be keeping you informed of how they go and what new French I learn! For now, I wish you bonne continuation avec vos études de français, et à la prochaine!