Well! The first day of the A to Z Challenge has arrived already! I've decided to do an A to Z of places - not very original, perhaps, but I have chosen places special to me and also places I'd like to visit one day.
My first destination is Avignon, France, because my home town (more to follow when we get to C!) is twinned with Avignon and I stayed there on a two-week French Exchange when I was 14.
I stayed with a girl called Nathalie who lived with her mum and older sister (Cécile) in a slightly cramped 'apartement'. I don't think I'd ever been inside a flat, believe it or not, so it felt quite exotic and very foreign. Missing my mum, I cried my eyes out for the first two nights, but once I'd got over the shock of being so far from home, those two weeks turned into something amazing. I grew so much during that fortnight - I grew independent, I grew resilient, I grew much better at French, and I grew up. Nathalie had grandparents living in Orange, a wonderful Roman town full of ancient remains. We went together on the train and stayed for a weekend. The villa they lived in was amazing - all white tiled floors, ensuite bathrooms and, best of all, a swimming pool. I had literally stepped into another world!
Before the French Exchange, I was a real home-bird and not very confident about being away from my family. I can honestly say it changed my life. That same year, my parents divorced and if it hadn't been for the fact that I'd already spent time away from home and found my inner strength, I don't think I'd have coped with it and come out as unscathed as I did. In a way, my trip to Avignon set me up for life.
So, thank you for so much, sunny Avignon! Here are some pics.