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Annot or Bust

May 10, 2011

Almost nine years ago, when I was a sophomore in college, I spent an amazing four months in a tiny French village called Annot.  When I think back on my four years of college, my time in Annot stands out as one of the best experiences, if not the best, of that period in my life. 

I went to Annot with creative writing professors and students, and I definitely think that my time there is what pushed me to pursue creative writing and English in my studies, as well as post-grad studies.  Annot is probably a large part of the reason I still consider myself a writer today.

Beyond the school aspect, I made friends in Annot that I still consider to be great friends of mine (even best friends) to this day. 

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Every weekend, we’d travel together—and you know nothing strengthens a relationship (friendship or otherwise) like European travel!  During the week, we took creative writing and photography classes, and just soaked up life in the small town.  And when I say small, I mean *really, really* small—there was one bar…one cafe…one grocery mart…and about twenty College of Charleston students, looking to have fun.

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We did have fun…but we had to kind of create it ourselves in Annot…like the toga party that we had at the end of the semester:

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We were all a little rough around the edges at that point.

When Ryan and I started planning this trip, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to go back and visit Annot.  I knew it was probably going to be different– and strange– to be back.  It was strange—but I was also happy to see that some things hadn’t changed.

One of the first things we did as a group when we arrived in Annot for the first time was to hike up one of the surrounding peaks to “Le Baou,”—a giant cross that overlooks the whole town.

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The hike is kind of a pain the ass (literally), but the view at the top is worth it.  Here’s our group, the first time around:

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Yesterday, after a quick cafe lunch, Ryan and I hiked the very same hike.  The view from the top was magnificent as ever:






Tired feet!!

Another Annot tradition was afternoon boules.  Boules is a game similar to Italy’s baci ball, and every afternoon, the French men from the village would gather in the boules court in the middle of town for a game (or two…or five).  Pastis was enjoyed, points were argued…and we got to watch all of it.  I was excited (and not surprised) to see that this tradition was still going strong:

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Of course, for everything that had stayed the same, some things were different.  Most notably, the hotel that all of us students lived in during our time in Annot:

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…was completely shut down—the garden out back was overgrown, and some of the windows of the hotel had been knocked out.  I tried to convince Ryan that we need to buy it and fix it up and run a hotel of our own…but I don’t think he took the bait. 

Another sad site—the bar at which we’d spent many a night enjoying a demi peche (beer with peach liqueur…yum) is now a pharmacy.  No more baoubar!! 😦

All in all, it was great to go back—if only for a day.  It brought back a rush of memories from that time in my life, and I know they’re memories that I’ll never be able to relive.  It’s funny—eight years doesn’t sound like a long time, and it doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was in college, but walking around Annot—it felt like it had been ages since I’d thought of this:


…as home. 

Thanks for taking this stroll down memory lane with me! Tonight, we’re in Perouges, a medieval village—many pictures to come of that as well! Tomorrow, we hit the road again to meet up with…my parents! They came to visit me when I was living in Annot, and they pulled into town sporting red berets.  Here’s hoping they do that again!

Au revoir! A demain!


14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2011 5:54 pm

    I got chills reading this. I miss France so badly. There is seriously some kind of magic in the air there. You look beautiful and I’m so glad you are enjoying it.

    • May 10, 2011 7:44 pm

      Thank you, Sarena!! There is definitely magic in the French air…if only we could bottle it and take it stateside 🙂

  2. May 10, 2011 6:52 pm

    Sounds like a really cool experience (both the first and second time around!!). The view from the top of the hike is gorgeous. Bummer about the hotel though 😦

    • May 10, 2011 7:44 pm

      Thanks, Erica…I know, it was a bit of a bummer to see the hotel in that condition– so strange to see time passing like that! Ahhh, changes!

  3. May 10, 2011 7:11 pm

    what a cool experience and thanks for posting about it all!

    glad you guys are having a blast!

    • May 10, 2011 7:43 pm

      Thanks, girl!! We’re definitely having a blast– and you’re about to leave on an awesome vacation too, if I’m not mistaken!! Have so much fun!!

  4. Elyssa permalink
    May 10, 2011 8:30 pm

    Merci mille fois for blogging your trip, Anna. Thanks to your (and Ryan’s!) gorgeous photography, I can almost imagine I’m there.

    I don’t know if you’re taking any requests, but your shots of food just slay me. Also, your hair looks incredible! How is that happening while you’re traveling?!?

  5. greensandjeans permalink
    May 10, 2011 8:32 pm

    You’re just glowing in these pictures! I’m ready to hop on a plane and join you guys!

  6. May 10, 2011 8:43 pm

    Oh Anna…what a wonderful post and I loved going down memory lane with you!!!

  7. Kim permalink
    May 10, 2011 9:53 pm

    That is so cool you got to go back and visit! Love the pics! Love your shoes – they look very comfy and cute!

  8. May 11, 2011 1:50 am

    I studied in London for a semester in college (13 years ago! Ack!!) and I often wonder how weird it would be to go back to my old haunts.

  9. May 11, 2011 10:46 pm

    What an awesome college experience! Fun pics and story! Gorgeous pics and amazing view, looks like you’re having a blast.

  10. JenATX permalink
    May 28, 2011 12:15 am

    I spent some time in Central Europe and i would LOVE to go back to the small cities I traveled to with my fellow students… I totally understand your desire to go back and see the sites/relive the memories. I’m glad you got a nice blast from the past 🙂


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