By Holly Tucker
While Wonders & Marvels hums along as usual (with the help of my amazing editorial team), I’m actually spending the summer in France. Yes, France. To be more precise, the South of France. Aix-en-Provence. Yes, it’s a rough life.
I’m here teaching at my university’s study abroad program. We’ve had a program in Aix for almost 50 years. One of the greatest perks for faculty is that we get to teach in rotation here.
Several years ago, my family and I spent a full year in Aix. So being here is like coming home. In fact, just yesterday, we had our neighbors—whom we’ve known for years–over for an American breakfast. You can imagine how fun it is to serve grits and bacon here!
Aside from the grits, I can’t begin to tell you how delicious it is to be here. First, of course, because of all of the delicacies to be found. Fresh fruit and vegetable markets dot the city each day. Olives, tapenade [an olive spread], fresh goat cheese, and wine—de préférence, rosé, are a staple for our evening aperitif.
It’s delicious to me for an even more important reason, however. As a professor, I am nearly giddy with the opportunities my students and I get to share together. I’m teaching a course called “Textes et Contextes,” which covers history, art, and literature from the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century.
Last week, I talked to the students about medieval architecture—and particularly the shift from Roman to Gothic styles in church construction. A student had a question about a specific type of arch. I pulled up some Google images to give her a better idea. Then it occurred to me…duh, we were literally RIGHT NEXT DOOR to a 13th century church: Saint Jean de Malte.