Phoebe in France.

Phoebe Pugh at the Le Musee d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Nice, France.

by Phoebe Pugh ’18

On Wednesday the 13th of April, 13 students piled into a long white school bus lugging their bags and suitcases behind them. “Goodbye,” some of the students called out of their window as they waved to passing students. “Bon Voyage!” students called after the departing bus. Two bus rides, two flights, and forty eight hours later all thirteen of us students and our two chaperoning teachers, Mme. Welch and Ms. Bass, were all safely in France, waiting to greet our host families. The unique feature of this trip to France was that we would be staying with French families who lived in a town just outside of Nice, one of the largest cities in the south of France. Because we were able to live with these families during our stay, we were exposed to French culture, food, and daily life, and could experience what life in France is really like. Also, because most of the families spoke little English, we were able to work on our French everyday in a home setting. Once we met our host families, we traveled by car to their homes and settled down for our first night in France.

Over the course of the 10-day trip we visited seven cities, one principality, and many special museums and landmarks in each place we visited. One of the most exciting places to visit was Antibes, a city by the sea that is home to many pleasure boat ports. In Antibes we walked along the long wall that divides the docking ports from the city and shopped in a large open air market. Everywhere there were people with tables full of lavender, soap, and Herb de Provence, a spice mix unique to the area. Before lunch, we traveled to the Picasso Museum and  looked out to the brilliant green blue mediterranean from it’s balcony. From where we were, one could look out the the infinite ocean as it crashed onto jagged cliffs and then turn and see many brightly painted houses stacked up on the hillside. I vividly remember the sunlight, bright colors, and the sound of the sea being some of the most beautiful sights of the trip.

Another one of these special moments I experienced later on our trip when we stopped in Eze on our way back from Monaco. Eze is a beautiful village built into a hillside that has been occupied by many groups over the years such as the Romans, the Moors, and the Turkish. In the 1860’s, France claimed Eze and it is now a tourist destination. When walking through the medieval village one sees many shops and art galleries built into the great structures of stone that were built up the hillside many years ago. At the peak of the hilltop, one of the most renowned botanical gardens in the world sits. I remember entering the gardens and being in awe. There were many exotic flowers bursting with color and prickly succulents planted along the stone path. As I climbed up to the summit, I remember thinking that I was somewhere magical, especially because we were surrounded in cloud and you could see nothing else but  the silent garden.

One of the unique feature of this trip was that, as previously mentioned, we got to live with a host family. Living with a host family was a great way to spend the trip because it exposed us to the everyday life of people in France and the history and culture of where they lived. I enjoyed spending time eating authentic meals with my host family and playing with their two-year old son. All of us students were split off into groups of two or three and each group lived in one of a few different parts of St. Laurent-Du-Var, the town we were staying in. My host family lived up in the hillside of the large town, which is named after a Roman saint who helped in the founding of a hospice many years ago. In the downtown center there are memorials to both Saint Lawrence and to the porters who used to have to carry people through a  river to the neighboring city of Nice. It was very interesting to live in a town with such a rich history and I was very excited when we were able to get a historical  tour of the town. At the end we even got to meet the town mayor.

By the time we had to leave France no one wanted to go. We were all teary-eyed as we hugged our host families goodbye and stepped into line at the airport awaiting our trip homewords. I know that I will always remember this trip for all of the wonderful experiences that I was able to have. In years to come I know that I will look back to these ten days and still vividly remember the bright blue sea, the smell of coffee wafting from an open cafe, and the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

Phoebe Pugh is a sophomore at Lincoln Academy who traveled to Nice, France with the World Languages trip in April, 2016.