My 23rd birthday just came around!
My birthday also fell on the last day of our teaching contract, so everyone had double the reason to celebrate! The actual day was on Monday, but we had a little get-together the Saturday before for all the assistants who were still in town. Everyone was in such good spirits and so happy to still be together. We had drinks at our house, then went to a couple different places in town.
On Monday, for the day of my birthday, Susanna and I headed out to the mountains to see the caves at Villefranche de Conflent. The town of Villefranche is an old fortified city that’s still surrounded by the big city walls. It’s a charming little town….and by little, I mean it only has two streets! The caves are in the mountains that surround the city.
There are three caves: Prehistoire, Canalettes, and Grandes Canalettes, but only Prehistoire and Grandes Canalettes were open. It’s 13 euros for a ticket to both caves, and you can arrive in Villefranche via the 1 euro train, or 1 euro bus from Perpignan! Haha, this blog is turning into Languedoc Roussillon’s tourism website.
Anyway, the caves are amazing. Prehistoire is kind of odd, with the different time periods it covers. There’s one area of dinosaurs, then another area setup like the caves that prehistoric man was living in in the Pyrenees Mountains. Then a third area that Vauban was using as part of the city fortification in the early 1700’s.
The Grandes Canalettes cave was much more impressive. The cave went about half a mile into the mountain and contains every kind of cave-formation known. It was really beautiful.
The caves are a constant damp 50 degrees, whether winter or summer.
The last room you enter is called the Salle d’Angkor where they have an ampitheatre set up with a sound and light show. It was completely dark in the room, then the music would start playing, and light up different parts of the cave as it went. I took a video during Ave Maria (below) but the quality isn’t great…I didn’t have my regular video cam unfortunately.
We came back on the 1 euro bus, and then met everyone for a birthday dinner at Pizza Papa. It was the same place I had my first cafe lunch with my mom the day I arrived in France… it does fancy pizzas and it’s SO good!
My friends got me the cutest little gifts…. I’ve been feeling the need to stock up on Catalan paraphernalia to bring home and they got me a wine stopper with the Catalan donkey on top, and a book about Collioure, some Catalan/Perpignan stickers, and the cutest little macaroon shaped cooking timer, since they know I love to cook. Haha. Unfortunately, with the top-notch French postal system, I only received maybe about half of the cards I know were sent over….but I really appreciate everyone who sent one, thank you so much!!
It was a great birthday, and I would really recommend going to the caves if you ever have the opportunity! So much has changed since my birthday last year, and I never would have believed I would be getting ready to come home after a year in France if you had told me last April! I really do feel so lucky to have had this experience.