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  • Caroline Altman

Aix---Avignon---Mérindol: Joy in the South of France!


Caroline here, it's really late and we've had a crazy long day of over-the-top experiences. This morning we hopped on the bus early and set off to Avignon. We stopped at the Pont du Gard and saw the amazing ancient aquaduct.

We sang there and a very appreciative crowd gathered, wanting to hear more...but we had places to go!

The bus dropped us at the city gates to the walled city of Avignon where we walked and explored before setting off for a brief lunch/shopping adventure. Then we met back up and explored the Papal Palace.

This was an extraordinary place and we spent a lot of time on the grounds, learning about early French history, and following a virtual treasure hunt that was a feature of the site.

After a brief pause to regroup and pick up some souvenirs we met at the Opera de Avignon where we were granted special permission to sit in on a Tosca rehearsal. We walked in just in time to see all the drama, but they had to stop two minutes before the end of the opera as it was 5pm and the end of rehearsal...we were on the edges of our seats...

Next we hopped back on the bus and drove about 45 minutes to the town of Mérindol where we were performing. When we got there we were greeted warmly by our hosts and colleagues: Le Choeur des Mondes, a community choir that sang fantastic multi-cultural rep, joined by a gypsy jazz trio.

We performed our American Musical Theater set and everyone sang a solo and the crowd went crazy! The sold out house was wildly appreciative and knew a lot of the music. The solos were truly fantastic: engaging, musical, lively, and moving. At the end of the concert, Robert, the other director, suggested we sing together to show how music is a bridge for all cultures and generations. So we all sang Amazing Grace. Luckily we learned it on the bus!

It was nearly 10:30pm, but after the show, they brought out a fabulous buffet dinner for both groups, the musicians played and everybody started dancing.

And amongst the charcuterie and shrimp salad and foccaccia, were sliders with little American flags :-)

It was after midnight when the bus dropped us off, but we all were jazzed from the experiences.

Here are some quotes:

  • "I really enjoyed the opportunity to explore Avignon during free time there!" -Chloe

  • "It was so amazing learning about all the history in the Papal Palace." -Sylvie

  • "The solos were really good and i felt really confident when I was doing it, which is really important for me.-Shayla

  • "I enjoyed performing and seeing the aqueduct" -Curtis

  • "I really enjoyed seeing how communities could be created through music ."-Nika

  • "Today we sang, laughed, and cried, and in the end we rose to the occasion and grew as people, singers, friends, and Opera Scouts." -Paloma

  • :It was kind of scary before you got up to perform your solo, but after is was fun." -Lulu

  • "I met some Americans at Sephora and it made my day!" -Hannah

  • "An old french lady winked at me. I thought it was cute."-Eve (who found out she was accepted to UC Berkeley today--Yay EVE!)

  • "Seeing the aqueduct was lit." -Zora

  • "Man i really should’ve gone back for those headphones." -David

  • "I really enjoyed seeing the opera rehearse and the beauty of the Avignon opera house." -Dolly

  • "I really liked performing! -Lydia

  • "I enjoyed the performance, everybody did so well on their solos." -Manisha

  • "I enjoyed seeing the opera and watching the mistakes." -Zoe


David's Dish

Today is the day I finally ate Beef Tartare! After a full night’s rest and an even longer drive to Avignon, we were all so ready for a meal. There were so many great options for lunch today: crepe shops, pasta stores, bakeries, paella, burgers. It was all so tempting. But I told my group to keep walking and find ALL of the options, then we choose. However, after only a few minutes, my chaperone felt cold and just wanted an indoor cafe. This is when the owner of the shop right next to us said “I let you borrow my jacket. Come.” Just like that, we have found a lunch spot. First thing I noticed was the location. It was a shop with seating found in the middle of the road. Second thing, the food. There were so many options! The menu was 4 pages containing both front and backside. It was at that moment I found tartare in the menu. Immediately, I ordered it. It came out in a small patty looking shape with lumps of pickle and yellow mustard in it. It was slightly off putting but after the first bite, I dug in. It was a weird soft texture yet it had a springy chew to it. It is exactly what squeezing ground beef in your hands feel like. The mustard and pickle helped reduce the gaminess from it. When paired with the fries that it came with, it was really good. This food is so very unique. Aside from the lack of heat, it really just tasted like a regular steak.

Overall 4.3

Exciting presentation

Wonderful location

Great servers and customer support.

PS if I don’t write tomorrow, you know what happened. The raw beef got to me!





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