Laurie and I got to Notre Dame at 8:00 am, right after it opened, listened to mass, and then looked at the exhibits behind the altar area. The French government restored the pipe organ and the bells for the 850th anniversary, and the exhibit noted that renowned musicians play the pipe organ on Sundays. They also have concerts at Notre Dame, so we are planning on attending a concert and going on a Sunday to listen to the organ when we return to Paris at the end of the month. After mass and exploring a little more of the church, we sat out on the bleachers and ate bocadillos for breakfast before we had to go back to the hotel and collect our luggage to catch the train to Provence. Since there were few tourists sitting on the bleachers that early, the sparrows mobbed us to get our bread. They were quite aggressive little beasts, and I think they would have preferred to have eaten us if they were big enough.
Getting mob of 20 students plus a few parents and a kid to the TGV (high speed train) on time proved to be quite challenging, as we all barely got on the train before it left, and three people managed to get on the wrong train, but fortunately the two trains were attached and stayed together until we got to Aix en Provence.
The countryside was covered with green fields punctuated by fields of yellow Colza flowers (used for canola oil) and a few brown fields waiting to be planted most of the way to Provence. Low clouds hung in the sky all the way to Aix with the atmosphere below the clouds alternating between clear and mist. The landscape became drier and rockier the further south we went, but it was still much greener and wetter than New Mexico.
We are staying with a family in a large house on the northern edge of Aix en Provence. Sophie, the hostess, is a native of Aix, but has lived in England with her Husband Paul. She has one daughter living at home, a couple of other students who go back to the States on Wednesday and a dog name Lilly, who insists that I throw a ball for her and give her lots of attention.
We are starting on classwork this morning and our first cooking class is this evening.