Fall break is upon us!  Unlike getting a short break from school at Thanksgiving as we have at UCLA, the Université de Bordeaux has a one week vacation from Saturday October 28 to Sunday November 5.  Since I don’t have classes on Fridays, I was lucky enough to get to start my vacation on Thursday evening, October 26!  

Leaving after school on Thursday, I took a combination of the tram and a bus and got to the airport with all the transit fees included in my TBM card!  Don’t forget you can always take the Bus 1 from Gare Saint-Jean straight to the Bordeaux airport with your card as well, and it only takes about one hour!  EasyJet and RyanAir offer many inexpensive flights to destinations all around Europe from Bordeaux, and for the first leg of my trip I decided to go to London.  Since I was taking EasyJet, the flight was leaving from what is called the “Bili” terminal at the Bordeaux airport.  A word of advice: when flying out of here (all flights on EasyJet and RyanAir), arrive a little extra early.  There are border police that check all passenger’s passports before boarding all planes, so waiting in line can take quite a long time.  Also if you plan on going to London, I would recommend not flying into Luton if you are in a rush.  It is the only airport without a train direct from the airport to the city, and I ended up sitting on a bus for two hours just to get into town).   

Anyways, one of the incredible gifts studying abroad has given me is new friends from other countries. Chris, a friend I made while traveling in Switzerland before coming to Bordeaux, met me in London!  Even though we were in an English-speaking country, which admittedly felt a little strange after a few months in France, Chris also speaks French so I got to keep in practice.  We had a packed three days of visiting the Harry Potter Studios, the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, and so much more!   

For only 17 Euros, we travelled from London to Nice for the remainder of the week.  There, Chris and I met my friend Tracie from Bordeaux!  I would highly recommend taking a trip here during your stay in France!  Nice was a great home base to visit all the highlights in the south of France, including Cannes, Monaco, and Èze.  We never paid more than 5 euros for train tickets, as France offers reduced train fares for all people under 26 years of age.   

Even though we were having a very fun week of travelling, we still had a little schoolwork to do!  Tracie and I are both in the same méthodologie class required for all California students, and we each had a presentation scheduled for the Monday back to school after break.  A great thing about this course is that it prompts us California students to always learn more about Bordeaux.  We were simply tasked with creating a ten-minute exposé in the French style on a place that can be visited in Bordeaux, and to expand on the history of the location and its role in the city today.  Because I spend almost every Sunday morning going to the market with my host mother, I decided to do my project on the Marché des Capucins.  It was Bordeaux’s first open-air market, and the largest still to this day.  Full of local producers and small restaurant counters, the market is truly the stomach of Bordeaux and also something you must visit during your time here.  

All in all, I had a fantastic week of traveling during the break.  My presentation went very well at the return to school, and now I am getting ready for some more midterm examinations and projects.  Many interesting things are coming up that I cannot wait to tell you about, such as a visit with my gastronomy class to a honey farm, wine producer, and another outdoor market outside of Bordeaux! 

Natasha Szombathy studied abroad in Bordeaux, France in 2017: