Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vacances de Noel: Part 1

I hope everybody passed a nice holiday season and had a happy New Year 2011! These past two weeks have been packed with new places, new people and new food!  I am going to split this post into multiple parts because there is so much to tell.  I would like to start by the places I visited and an outline of my two week long travels.

To start, the first weekend (Dec 18-19) of vacation I stayed in Bonneville because I had a friend's sweet sixteen on Saturday and our band concert on Sunday (see previous post for more details).  We left early Monday morning for Perpignan (50km from the Spanish border) to stay the night with Lucile's godfather.  On the way we stopped at Orange to eat lunch and at Avignon to see the Palais des Papes.  In the 14th Century, Avignon was the home of the Pope.  The inside was very beautiful and very well conserved.

Palais des Papes
Tuesday morning was another early start and we were on our way to Barcelona!  I was so excited, another country to add to my not so long list of USA, Canada, Mexico and France!  What was interesting was that I did not need my passport, I took it anyway but since Spain is part of the European Union, once you are in, you are in, they don't stop you at the border and don't check passports very often.

Once we got to the hostel, we dropped our bags and went out to explore the city.  We visited the St. Catherine church, and took a walk in a public garden and saw another Arc de Triomphe. We also stopped to look at many interesting architectural work on an opera and many houses.  We also stopped to visit the Picasso museum, with the largest collection in one place from the artist.  That night we ate at Con Cargol (The Blue Snail, L'Escargot Bleu) and the food was amazing!  Afterward, only ten o'clock, we went to see the outside of the Sagrada Familia, the famous unfinished basilica by Gaudi.

Our kebabs at Con Cargol
Sagrada Familia
Wednesday, our final day in Barcelona, we went to visit the inside of the Sagrada Familia, which was architectually, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, anything-you-can-think-of-ly amazing. The Sagrada Familia took us the whole morning and then we set off to find the Park Güell.  We spent the early afternoon visiting the park and more of Gaudi's work, then we left for Perpignan again but this time to stay with Adélie's godfather.
Park Güell

Thursday we left Perpignan in the late morning and went to visit the Chateaux Cathares.  These very old medieval castles are situated on a rocky mountain, and the only way to climb is by foot. The trail was not  too long and it was so worth it because when we got to the top we could only stand and stare at either the beautiful castle or the mountainous view.  We visited the ruins of the first chateau and boy was it windy!  On our way up, the wind was so strong that we thought that we were going to fall over!  We then left for the second chateau that you could see from the first. We climbed another and slightly longer and steeper trail to get to the ruins.  This second chateau was on two levels, a lower, older part, and up another small hill, the slightly newer part.  There was not nearly as much wind at this chateau, but there were a lit more ruins to see.  

After we were finished visiting the chateaux, we made our way through the Pyrenees to Pamiers, where Anne's sister lives, where we would stay for the next few days and for Christmas. (For more info on Christmas and New Year's, toon in soon the next post is coming)

The view from Quéribus
At Pamiers I met the rest of the family and we had a very nice Christmas.  On Sunday, we relaxed most of the day, I had a play to read (Le Mariage de Figaro-Beaumarchais) and the boys played Mario Kart on the Wii.  We packed all of our belongings and headed out to Lamalou-les-Bains, 85km west of Montpellier, where we had a restaurant reserved for our family.  I know that it is not very common to rent out the restaurant for just us, but there were 28 of us!  That night we went chez Mamama (Anne's mother) to sleep.  Mamama lives in a small town called Fabrègues near Montpellier.  We stayed with her for a relaxing few days, hanging out as cousins and family.  Us girls took a short shopping trip to downtown Montpellier one afternoon and we had a fun time going into shops that we knew we couldn't afford.  

We left Wednesday night from Montpellier to go to Nancy, in the north of France to visit very close family friends. We spent the next few days and New Year's with them.  We went to the Marché Central (Central Market) Thursday morning to buy fresh produce and meat for that night's meal and for New Year's Eve.  In Nancy, we visited the museum of the L'école de Nancy and the Musée Lorrain.  L'école de Nancy had many forms of architecture that were conserved and was a new way of building and art.  There were many glass bowls and vases with intricate designs and multiple layers of glass.
La Place Stanislas at Nancy

We left for Bonneville New Year's Day and it felt nice to get back my new routines, and to sleep in my own bed again.  The next day was spent, of course, on homework and relaxing.  We had to prepare ourselves for the long week that was ahead of us.  Monday morning, I took longer than normal to get up,  and school seemed longer than usual.  To make Monday longer, I had karate just after schoool, so I didn't get home until nine o'clock.

It is now the middle to end of a long week and it feels like I had way more work than usual, I think it is time to get a good night's sleep and really wake up and realize that VACATION IS OVER!

Good thing February break is in only 8 weeks!!
Haha, I'm not counting down the days or anything...

To be continued...


  1. Yet another Fabre in a place name! Thanks for the photos, it was great hearing about all of these things when we talked to you but even better to see the photos too! The Sagrada Familia is supposed to be one of the most fantastic places architecturally in the world, I'm so glad you were able to see it. And those kebabs look delicious - you know I love the food photography! Great job and can't wait to read part II - love you much, Mom

  2. Um, only one word.... WOW! Such diversity of experiences in such a short period of time. I can't think of anything else to say except.... enjoy!


  3. Oh Victoria- what a fabulous vaction! Your firat day back to school must have been torture -but I bet it was worth it! Your photography and words bring me along with you- and I didn't have to bring my passport either! LOL And I have no doubt- you will return to Montpellier someday and go into those shops you cannot afford right now-- and you will be able to buy everything you want!!! Keep on enjoying it all--- working hard, meeting new people, seeing new places and eating new foods.... and keep on telling us all about it! Happy 2111--take care, Diane