It is the end of the first week. It is going so fast but it is also great fun. By Friday, my mind was pretty wasted. I was tired and I had a bit of difficulty thinking in French. I was especially tired after lunch. We went immediately to the practical session where we discussed how to talk about your job and immediately after the practical into the laboratory to practice sentences using irregular verbs. I haven't memorized my irregular verbs yet so I did terribly. During our afternoon break, I went to a bench in the garden and took a quick cat nap. It worked. I was much better at the end of the afternoon.
We gathered again in the evening for a soiree. The school held an evening get together. We could speak in our native tongue but several people continued to speak French. I didn't. I really enjoy the other students in my class. We get along really well and I wanted to talk to them. We had a buffet dinner followed by dancing. To break the ice, we did a couple of dancing games which were great fun. I was exhausted by the end of the day.
Today, we had a tour of the city where we learned the history of the region. The citadel has been maintained and is now the city hall. There was a wedding going on since you are married first in a civil ceremony. It was great walking the old ramparts and hearing Lohengrin.
The tour was over at noon. I grabbed a quick bit to eat at the boulangerie. Then I caught bus 100 for Menton. There was a special open garden day - Journées Méditerranéennes du Jardin. One of the private gardens that I wanted to see - Clos du Peyronnet - was part of the tour. It took about 1 hour by bus. It was crowded since it also goes to Monaco and many of the beaches along the coast. The ride was beautiful. As we passed Monaco, the cities became a bit more Italian and the coast more tropical.
The visitors bureau told me to go to a park along the beach and I could book a tour there. I wasn't certain if I could get in to garden on Saturday but I had my fingers crossed. The Journees was actually a plant vendor show at the park along with being an open garden weekend. Several wholesalers and nurseries which specialized in mediterranean plants were set up on the grass in the park. The variety of plants was exceptional. G would have loved it. My favorite plant was a Bauhinia. In the center were activities for children. They could make a floral hat, draw and lots of other activities for the children. I was able to get the final ticket for Clos du Peyronnet and bus transportation. Yeah!
I wasn't certain exactly where to catch the bus. I guessed it would be in front and the bus would be white. At 3pm, I looked around and saw several other people with tickets lining up. I guessed correctly. The bus took us along the seaside to the Italian border. Along the way, we passed by the apartment we are renting after the school. The area looks great. Just before the Italian border, we turned and went a short way up into the hills.
The bus dropped us off and we walked down a sentier (footpath) that went along the side of the garden. We waited a few minutes and the owner came out and greeted us and invited us into the garden. He gave the tour in French but I was able to follow most of it. There were many facinating plants in the garden. He has been collecting acasias (mimosa) and is growing many fruit trees; guavas, avocados, chirimoya. There are wonderful paths and vista throughout the garden along with several ponds stairstepping down the hill. Right now, the garden looks a little tired. Everything was dried especially with the drought but you could see the good structure and the love that has gone into the garden.
The bus returned us to the show and I walked the main pedestrian streets of Menton. Saturday is a busy shopping day and the streets where crowded. Not surprisingly, I heard more Italian than French. Menton is a popular day trip for Italians. I found an italian deli and bought some fresh raviolis for dinner.
It was already 6:30 and time to return. The buses only run until about 7:30 so I needed to make certain I caught one back. I could also take the train. It was wonderful riding along the coast with the rays of sun shinning between the coastal hills - watching the sea and coast turn pink.