Our academic year is coming to a close, and I still haven't written about it! Time to remedy that.
So, both Josh and I taught English in the public school system, and both of us studied on the side. I enrolled in French classes at an institute run by L'Univérsité Paul Cezanne. It was a quick stroll across the street each morning to this old mansion from the 1600's.
Like most other buildings in Aix, the school is a weird mixture of "old and beautiful," "old and decrepit," "new and institutional-looking," and "new and still somewhat charming."
For example, I had phonetics class every Monday morning in what might have been an old bedroom or sitting room.
On one side of the room we have a gilt-framed mirror above a marble fireplace. On the other, a white board:
Check out the french doors to the left of the white board. They're everywhere here, and they usually have these cool latches:
Our first week here, I bought a copy of "Raison et Sentiment," the French translation of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. It was a bit surreal reading a story set in the 18th century and then walking over to sit in a building to match.
All this Jane Austen-ness makes me think of my friend Amanda, although I can't quite remember why. The room next to the phonetics classroom is what I would design for her if she were moving back in time to the late 1700's:
The old mansions here are called hôtels particuliers, "individual hotels." The hôtels particuliers are usually arranged around a central courtyard, perfect for standing around enjoying the sunshine during one of the many pauses cafés, coffee breaks, in the school day. The courtyard of the institute has my favorite fountain in all of Aix:
I'll be a little sad next year to move down to the "Fac de Lettres," the liberal arts branch of the University housed in rather utilitarian looking buildings. Although I'm still not sure if I got in or not! Maybe I'll be back, day-dreamily staring at the old plaster mouldings of the institute's ceilings again next year. On va voir!