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A Roadtrip In Four Courses

My last trip to France was nearly three years ago but I remember it like yesterday. It was the one I took with just me and my dad.

Papa, as I call him, was born in Riom and met my mother while she was visiting Montpellier seventeen years ago. His family is scattered around France, and visiting them is one of the main reasons we go so often.   This time he had a conference in Pézenas.

The aperitif

Ironically, I began our road trip in Toulouse attending my first French school ever, while Papa was at his conference.

My experience in a French school can be described with one word: awesome. The students were friendly and many of them stopped me to ask if I watched the Simpsons, Jackass, or other popular American media. School in France was considerably better than in the States. First, although it lasted until 5:00, there was an entire hour for lunch where students could do as they pleased. On Wednesdays, school was let out at noon. Secondly, there were many more classes than I was used to. The students learned English, Spanish, and Latin in addition to French. Other than the core classes, there were several electives: welding, music, and a sports class. Finally, maybe the biggest plus, was the quality of the food. Lunch was served on a buffet. It consisted of mini-baguettes, a side dish, main course, and dessert.

Entrée

Our road trip began in earnest when my father returned.  Our first stop: the castle of Carcassonne. The château was huge, with several layers of walls. Inside the outer wall was a moat that surrounded the main body of the castle.  We then had to navigate the crowded streets on our way to the second wall.  These were lined with shops that sold a variety of unnecessary things, from postcards and souvenirs to children’s toys and candy. Finally we arrived at a drawbridge that would bring us into the castle, and set off by foot to enjoy the medieval wonder. My favorite part was walking along the castle wall. In the distance we could see hundreds of miles of beautiful countryside. The view made me wonder what it would have been like as a boy living in the medieval times.

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