September 15, 2016

July 27th, 2016 - Puy de Dôme

For my first two months in France, I only had French classes and workshops, starts from 08.45 am to 03.30 pm and we had a lot free time after school. Luckily, our language centre/alliance francaise already organized several activities each day - you might have castle excursions, city visits, games and sport stuff too. I swear, I couldn't help myself to join those activities, but they aren't free - we have to pay fees that include the transportation and entrance tickets - but if you come with scholarship, you'll get some excursions coupons, thus you can choose activities that you want to go for free.

One of my favourite and most unforgettable activities that I'd subscribed to was hiking at Puy de Dôme, the highest lava dome from where you can see all of Chaîne de Puys - chains of lava domes, volcanic mountains.

We went there straight after our atelier, there were two buses from cavilam and there was only 5 of us Malaysians who joined it. Frankly speaking, before arriving there, I was imagining that the hiking session wouldn't be so difficult like hiking Broga Hill in Malaysia but heck no, it was hard. The path is inclined and flat lands last only for 5 - 10 metres.

Took this on our way there, from the bus
I teamed up with Alanna and a Colombian girl cum my workshop mate, Juliana during the hiking, we weren't mentally and physically prepared for it, so we stopped at almost every single checkpoint we found - I remember that Alanna and I kept on asking, 'Still far?' and we were totally out of breath right after 10 mins hiking. No stamina at all, all of them were dedicated for food processing hahaha I ate a lot well, since there's so many good food to try :P

Start the climb!

View from the first stop
To arrive the peak of the Puy de Dôme, it usually takes about 45 mins *according to the guide*, well well well, we took approximately 55-60 mins to arrive. We were slowed down by the view! How can you resist taking photos or appreciating the magnificent paysage - they're incredible beautiful. Like at different height and side of the mountain, you'll see different side of Auvergne. The boys had good time taking photos as they were like climbing here and there and it was a bit dangerous, so we didn't want to take any risk lol.


If you can see clearly, at the edge of the cliff - my friends were there taking photos


Once we'd arrived at the peak, whoa I was so so relieved and feeling like a champion, aha! I mean like when I turned around, mannn did I just climbed all the path just to get here? I can't believe myself - I finally did it! So we took a little break, we bought waffles and drinks and just enjoyed the view. There were people doing paragliding - I was this close to join it but unfortunately, I didn't have enough cash with me, so maybe next time yeah?
Paragliding




Made itt!

It's a reservoir back there, and a kiosk

The view from the viewing deck

We walked over the gate of no entry to this path, well YOLO!

After an hour of break at the peak, we started going down as we needed to be back at cavilam at 08.30pm. Going down was much more fun than going up and it is more dangerous as well - thank god we weren't injured at all  during the hiking session.

On our way back, we sat at the back of the bus with a spanish group and they were like singing randomly to Spanish songs and there was one of them suggesting that we picked a song that everyone can sing - we started off with I'm Yours and Thousand Miles. We made Alanna sing and we did a malay song for the spanish. It was a nice time, after a tiring activity, you can still enjoy yourself!

This is actually not my first time hiking in France, it's my second as I was at Grenoble a week before, and we went to La Sassenage, it was tiring as well but not so difficult like climbing Puy de Dôme. Anyhow, it was worth it.

p/s: totally missing the nature! Mountains are nowhere to be found in the city :(

September 07, 2016

Vichy me manque

Yeap peeps, you read it right. I'm no longer in Vichy (the previous city in north east of France), I've moved in to Antibes - a city near to Nice, located in the Côte d'Azur region and for the time being, I'm still trying to find something that can please me in this new place.

I can tell that I'm so attached to Vichy - it was my first city in France, I've met bunch of wonderful people there and it witnessed every single thing that was first time to me and the fact that Vichy is a small city - historical yet beautiful and it is surrounded with nature.

I know I shouldn't be comparing these two different cities though, but I can't help it! Of course they differ a lot - specially one is in the north and the other one is in the south. People from these two parts of France are totally not sharing the same values.

Frankly speaking, what I'm gonna write here is exactly from my personal observation, what I've experienced myself, so bear in mind that I would probably be freaking biased. Obviously, you would be a lot more inclined to things that you love/like.

I've been in Vichy for 2 months, living in a famille d'accueil or a foster family as it was a part of our bridging programme in France before starting our degree. I honestly tell you that they are super warm people! My first week was a disaster because I hardly could memorise directions - I got lost most of the time if I went out alone and well, Vichysois (the people of the Vichy) they are so kind, before you could go ask someone for the direction, there will be people approaching you asking whether you're okay or not.
Centre ville

They're so freaking friendly and I am talking about strangers on the road - no matter where you are in the city, when you bump into someone else, they will always say 'Bonjour mademoiselle! Ca va?'

All.the.time.

In my case, people easily recognize me as a muslim, so you would have those random people giving you salaam and starting to talk in arabic. Most of the time, they think that muslims can speak and understand arabic. In fact, when we (Malaysians) told them that we can read and write arabic alphabets but not to understand it, they would be quite surprised  as for them, the french-arabs, they are most likely to understand and speak arabic but not being able to write and read it.

In front of my university Pole Universite Albert-Londres, there's this one big big park which was constructed by Napoleon III in between the years of the world wars as Vichy was the place for him to relax after dealing with guerre (war). The park is super beautiful and there hadn't been a day passed without me going there, lepaking under the tree. Even when it was so so hot, it was summer and there were like 3 times we had canicule, I would still go there, just to lay down and play games with my friends.

At our fav spot during Eid

Pont de Bellerive

In front of CAVILAM - Pole universite Albert Londres
Next to Pole Universite, we have Sources des Celestins - natural thermal water source which Vichy is known for. There are several beauty products that used these thermal water sources, I remember there are 5 sources located in the Hall de sources but the very famous one is the celestins. What I want to talk about is the landscape of the city, the architecture, the historical buildings and the history of the city itself - these are the things that made me fall in love with Vichy. I would say it is a city for people who want to have a laid back lifestyle, enjoying the little bit of their with nature, of not having to rush all the time. I mean, I was so so so relaxed back then in Vichy and you can get to anywhere just by walking and the good thing I adore about the Vichysois, pedestrians have the priority. If you want to cross the road, drivers would stop and give you way, so polite!

Interior of sources des celestins
I fall in love with France because of Vichy and the people I met there, especially the ones from CAVILAM, alliance francaise. I've been friends to people from all across the globe and they are so amazing! I've never imagined I would be meeting North Koreans, Brazilians, Colombians, Peruvians, Paraguayans etc. THEY'RE SO COOL! Well, to get to know their cultures is another different story, things you thought it was right  about this one particular country would be so wrong. One thing I could say, these people couldn't get to guess my age, aha! I was like years younger, lol! I did the vice versa - I always think that they're older than their age, those sixteen years old girls are totally don't look like one... How can I guess?

If you guys were to find a place to improve your french or to just hang out for few days trying out things that are not in trend nowadays, don't hesitate to go for Vichy and Cavilam. You won't regret it, I swear.

Wait, I did have a regret. Leaving the city is my biggest regret for the time being. But I am pretty sure that I will be back there.


 I'm trying to find some time to publish the posts of my visits in Auvergne, my favourite ones! Till then peeps!

p/s: I started my first day of degree classes today! :)