TICONDEROGA-A group of Ticonderoga students and adults recently visited France, taking in Paris, Provence and Nice.
The group traveled with the Explorica Educational Tour Company. The students involved were Amanda Charlton, Megan Scuderi, Katelyn Mercer, Autumn Olcott, Megan Campney, Miranda Davis, Harley Trudeau, Brooke Nadeau, Jeanette Coon, Kylie Austin, Marissa Thompson, Andrea Russell, Megan Schryer, Michael LaFountain, Martin Glazer, Wesley Porter, Joe Gonyea and Matt Nolan. The adults who traveled were Kari Millard, Heather York, Alicia Coon, Mark Russell, Tammy Snyder and Erin Dedrick.
"The leader of the tour was a very funny Frenchman with ties to Africa named Pierre Cotinaud," Millard said. "He led the tour with a red light saber through France. The group found every popular site to see easily because of the red wand."
In Paris the group visited major monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Les Invalides, L'Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, Le Louvre, La Place des Vosges and Le Jardin de Luxembourg. The group also cruised the Seine River at dusk where they were able to see Paris is at night. The students walked through some of the major districts in Paris, like the Marais, which is known for its shopping and hidden treasures like mansions restored into museums. They traveled by TGV, the world's second fastest train to the south of France.
The group was booked at an all-inclusive resort for the stay in Provence. Provence is known for its Roman ruins and lavender fields. They visited the Pont du Gard Aqueduct, used in a VW Bug commercial a few years ago, the Arena in N mes and a Roman temple.
They spent a few hours shopping in Avignon after visiting the Pont d'Avignon, a bridge that was never finished and only goes halfway across a river, and the Palais des Papes or Palace of the Popes, as well as in Les Baux de Provence, a medieval hilltop village.
"The group was pleasantly surprised by the two open air markets they visited," Millard said. "The markets are the place to shop for local food and goods at great prices. There is fresh produce, olive oil, spices, cheese, meat, bread, pastries, candy, clothing, fabric, lavender products, etc.
"The group went on a Calanques cruise, which is a cruise that took place in crystal blue waters lapping against white cliffs," she said. "People sun bathe, fish and swim in the Calanques. The Ti group got a little wet on that cruise; bags and clothes were soaked. They were fortunate that it was in the '80s and breezy that day to dry out. The guide and bus driver decided to drive up the highest mountain in that area Le Cap de Canaille. The bus continued going up and up a spiral road, with commentary from the group, until the top was reached. The coach bus competed with small cars and bicycles for the right of the thin road, with no shoulders on steep windy cliffs. Yikes! The view was worth the drive up and down."
The group then traveled to the city of Nice in the Cote d'Azur and on the Mediterranean Sea. The group played on the beach, hung out in Old Nice and ate some different flavored ice cream, like cactus and lavender. They visited other towns along the Mediterranean - Eze, Monaco and Monte Carlo.
"The students checked out all the cool cars in front of the casino in Monte Carlo and saw how the town was preparing for a royal wedding and a Formula 1 race,"Millard said. "The group also toured the Fragonard Perfume Factory in Eze, known for the fragrant duck shaped soaps. After the tour, the group was given time to buy some products made there. Along the way, memories were made such as learning to street dance in Avignon, going to the White Dance at the resort, bowling in Nice, playing in the cold Mediterranean Sea, and shopping and caf hopping in the pouring rain.
"The group will never forget the fun, the culture and the food - pain au chocolat, Bueno candy bars, cr pes filled with Nutella, and a drink called Orangina - of France.," she said.