La Musée des Beaux-Arts’arch%C3%A9ologie_de_Besan%C3%A7on

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One of first Museums I’ve visited in Besançon, Beaux-Arts is located in the square called “Place de la Revolution”.




(Place de la Revolution)




Below are some of my favorite Paintings/Exhibits/Sculptures






(Monkeys cater to cats, snipping and trimming their faces)







(Cloth tightens around the body like skin, holding it still and preserving its place in existence)







(Skeletal remains embedded in rock and earth)







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(Composed of really small tiles)



(Finally, some cool stairs I noticed on my way back)


Dijon (28 Septembre)



Welcome to Dijon, France!

Offering more than just Mustard, Dijon contains shops, market places, parks, fountains, festivals, and a delicious selection of eateries.

Upon arrival, we went to the welcoming center for a map and found…


(The real deal)


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(Local tram system)


Our second stop was the park.


(Greeted by a pensive polar bear)



(Serpents feed the fountain – soothingly rhythmic)


Finally, as we entered through the giant arch we moved into the masses, finding ourselves among street shops selling everything from scarves to chocolate to cleaning supplies.




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Ultimately, I would describe the experience as:

 Faces bobbing through narrow pathways, corridors, arches. Pouring through, desiring-feeding-feeling the cemented walls. Sweet sharp Scents rise with the boulangeries carried by the crowds.

Wave like, humanity washes itself upon the streets, waxing-waning with the day.


Faire une randonnée (Hiking – Bregille)

Just twenty minutes by bus, Bregille is one of the many hiking hot spots in Besançon. Boasting beautiful views of cascading green hills and small suburban towns. Easy to manage trails weave through the mountain.

Though, proceed with caution because it’s unavoidable to get caught by thorns if you stray from the larger pathways. Every few feet there’s some jagged brush or tree willing to pull you back.

Regardless, the views were stunning.

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Une Semaine

Sleep deprived and hungry, we finally arrived at the train station after about a twenty-four hour excursion from the States, to Paris, to Besançon.  With broken French we moved our way through a three hour train delay. Stairs clanked as tired arms pulled and pushed bags through foreign chatter.

Now having spent a week here, I’ve been able to explore the place that I’ve worked so hard to travel to. The city is a beautiful collection of Roman and Spanish influenced architecture. Cobble stone streets weave their way through centre ville, where cafés and shops greet citizens and wanderers. You can see that each building has its history.


(The view from my window)

Though upon arrival it was sunny and hot, I’ve discovered it rains quite often. The weather quickly turns, and you would be wise to always have a raincoat or an umbrella. So when one of my friends left her umbrella on the bus, she quickly ran to buy another one, only to leave that one on a bus again… ah, c’est la vie.

Since settling in I’ve been able to visit the Citadel, an enormous Military construct now turned into a Museum and festival gathering location. (

There’s art, a zoo, an aquarium, a world war two museum, a bug and arachnid building, and an eatery (for those who are famished from the hike up). The view is amazing. Describing it doesn’t do it any justice. So I’ll show you!

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Surfacing now, my once subdued anxiousness and excitement pull me from my bed. Left, right, rollover. Again until I find something comfortable. My mind is too awake to sleep.

Tonight I catch a seven hour flight to France. I still have to pack my suitcase and tie some lose ends; I always get it done. The emotional surge is brought about by the realization of time, that soon I’ll be somewhere entirely new. It’s a faint feeling that I’ve worked on taming these past few weeks. Through all the questions of “Are you excited?” and “It’s almost here! How do you feel?”, my response has been “Enjoying the moment, I’ll be entranced once I’m on the plane.”

That’s how I want it to be though. If I spent my time thinking about the future, I wouldn’t have anything left for the present. Despite this, today is a big exception.

France, Presque

Nothing is safe from the movement of time, though humanity has a habit of attempting to encapsulate the moments.

Here across the suburban sprawl of Long Island, plum colored leaves and old trees are pushed forward into Autumn by the seasonal wind. Cul-de-sacs and grid like streets with replica houses stand still watching over the nine to five, dinner at six migration.

There’s a comfort in knowing that tomorrow can be the same as today, and yet, the illusion is our creation.

A week from now I’ll be on a plane to Besançon, France. Another place in the world with it’s own foundations and culture. I know this will be one of the biggest challenges in my life at the moment; speaking another language and adapting to local customs isn’t easy. Though if I was looking for something facile I would have stayed behind.

I used to suck at speaking a foreign language. I had to take six years of spanish and the only thing I could say after it all was “Yo hablo solamente Poco”. I cringe at my adolescence and lack of motivation to learn. Some habits die hard though; I still struggle to get up for 1050 classes (I’m workin’ on it)

I remember my apprehension in taking my first French class. I had a lot of doubts, but something in those thoughts had changed.

Two and half years later of French and  I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I’ve fallen on my ass countless times in the process – struggling through a semester of all French classes to trying Spanish and French in the same schedule. I needed every bit of the beating because without it, I wouldn’t know what to improve.

Studying abroad is the next step. It’s an amazing experience for anyone willing to leave behind all of their known comforts.

The world’s a dark beautiful place, like walking through a vine entangled jungle with strange exotics noises permeating the canape walls. Everyone should travel and experience existence – it’s a reflection of who we are and what we can be – our struggles, dreams, and creations…

Last Post for the Semester: The Citadelle!

The other photos of the Citadelle

My last week in Besançon, I went to the Citadelle with Tessa and Carrie. I think that this post will be very fitting as my last about Besançon because the Citadelle serves somewhat as a symbol of Besançon.

Our visit was pretty good. I was moreso just very happy because I finally got to visit it. From the outside, it just looks like a massive fort with some towers around the corners. From the inside, there is actually a lot to do (I was surprised by what is inside). There is a café, an aquarium, an insectarium, two museums, a “zoological garden,” et lots of other stuff.

First off, we went to the aquarium. There are two absolutely enormous fish in there and many turtles with really cool markings all over their bodies. We didn’t go to the insectarium because that’s not whatsoever my thing. Afterwards, we visited the “zoo,” which was really cool. I liked the flamingos and the birds (toucan, parrot, etc.) and the monkeys. It was really funny (and freaky) because some of the monkeys made cries just like a human would. Before leaving the zoo area, I found some kangaroos (which I’ve never seen before), so I took plenty of pictures.

Finally, we went to the two museums. Well, I went to one of them; I stayed outside the first because I was exhausted and there were way too many people in it. The second was pretty boring: it was “Le musée franc-comtois,” which is a museum displaying some customs and such of La Franche-Comté (my region).

So yeah, that’s about it for the Citadelle. This is my last post about Besançon! It was a great city, and I am very glad that I had the opportunity to study there. I made a lot of great friends and strengthened many pre-existing friendships. Maybe I’ll write more about it sometime…we’ll see. I assume I’ll write about one more post about a month or so after being home, to see what it’s like. Otherwise…goodbye to all!

– Matt Lipinski


Easter Vacation – Week 1

Easter Vacation – Week 1


The Photos of the Loire Valley

The Photos of Bordeaux and Arcachon
I’m not going to mention too much about the Loire Valley because we didn’t do much besides visit some awesome castles. Also, I’m already out of Besançon and in the south of France, and my vacation was about a month ago. We had about 30 people in our group, with one or two who didn’t come from the CLA.

The first day in the Loire Valley (Saturday)

We spent the first day pretty much just traveling by bus. It was a longgg ride – 8 hours. Luckily, we stopped three times (breakfast, lunch and bathroom). We arrived in Tours, and we were wiped. My friends and I ate dinner together, and then we went right back to the “Auberge de Jeunesse”(hostel for young people).

The second day (Sunday)

We got back in the bus and headed to the first castle – Château de Chenonceau. Wow it was beautiful! Everyone went in to see the bedrooms and all the other rooms. The castle is basically surrounded by water (a river I think) except for the entry bridge and the small gardens.

After Chenonceau, we got back in the bus (boring), slept, and arrived at the second castle – Château de Chambord. It was four times bigger than the first castle. From the exterior (and the interior too), it is extremely impressive. We took some photos of the group (obviously except for whoever photographed it from our group). I didn’t want to go into all the rooms because it’s fairly boring (for me) to do that. So, I walked around the courtyard of the castle to see the tours and everywhere around the castle. Afterwards, we slept at a second “Auberge de Jeunesse” near Orléans.

The third day (Monday)

Finally: the last day in the Loire Valley. We went to Orléans (the birth city of Joan of Arc). We stayed there between 10:00 and 14:00. After 14h, the bus left for Besançon, and Brittany and I took the train to Bordeaux (it arrived around 20:00). That night, we didn’t do anything because we were too tired.

The first day in Bordeaux (Tuesday)

On the “first day”, Tessa and Carrie came from Toulouse to spend the day (with us) in Bordeaux. We did a cool bus tour (about an hour and half duration). I saw the majority of the most important monuments of the centre ville. A bit later on, we visited a really cool wine museum. Inside, there are a few small cellars filled with some history of the wine trade. There were trade ship replicas, trader journals and tons of old bottles. The old labels and bottles are really cool. The design of wine bottles changed a lot since the beginning of “commercial” wine production. There were also a few enormous bottles in the cellar; there was one that can hold 18 L of wine! At the end, we tasted two wines (one red and one white). The white was really good, and the red was ok – nothing special (well, not to my under-developed wine tasting and judging abilities at least…)

After the museum, we walked around a bit to find a place to eat. There’s a restaurant called “Paul’s Place”(if I remember correctly). We ate there. The owner is a guy that is from England but who has lived in France for almost 15 years. Nonetheless, his French wasn’t too good (surprising) so we spoke in English. I had a fantastic salad with pearled onions, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. As for my meal, I have no recollection of what I ate (as usual). After dinner, Carrie and Tessa went back to Toulouse and Brittany and I explored a bit more then went back to the hotel.

The second day (Wednesday)

On Wednesday, we went to Arcachon, a small town on the ocean. It looks just like some parts of California. There are a few small beaches there, which was a big change for us to see (hadn’t seen one since October 2010). We ate there and then took a boat over to Cape Ferret, a peninsula not more than thirty minutes from Arcachon. A real beach! It was beautiful, fairly warm, and just amazing. I called my mom while I was walking on the beach to rub it in a little; she was very envious (sorry Mom). While we were there, we explored a bit and then visited the lighthouse. There are amazing views from up there, as well as a very cool map of the peninsula. Afterwards, we walked throughout the residential areas. Finally, we (unfortunately) left around 18:30. The water level of the ocean raised an enormous amount between our arrival and our departure – I was really surprised (there are pictures of it below). Back in Arcachon, we had two delicious Stella Artois’s et then went back to Bordeaux.

The water level when we got there
The water level when we left

The third day (Thursday)

We didn’t do anything exciting because our train left around 14:00. Before the train, we walked around a bit to take in the beautiful views, the French people (and non-French people) and the huge river (La Garonne). Before leaving, we found a street full of antique shops. I bought a Harry Potter book, the first Lord of the Rings and a medical book (all in French of course) for only 5€ – that was pretty awesome, except for the fact that the medical book is way too heavy and I might have to leave it here because my suitcases are already much too heavy. After getting back to Besançon, I relaxed a bit and then took the train to Italy the next day.

– Matt Lipinski

Pugey and Arguel

Sunday, April 3, I went to Pugey and Arguel (nearby towns) with the CLA. The day trip had the same idea as my day with a family in Nans-Sous-Sainte-Anne.

I’m not gonna write a lot about the day because I only have two weeks left in Besançon and I still need to write about the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Arcachon, Italy, and the end of my stay in Besançon. I can’t believe it’s basically already over!

This time, I was with Carrie: I felt a bit more comfortable because I was with another American (last time I was with a CLA student that I didn’t know). After we arrived, we had some coffee, tea, cookies, etc. Afterwards, we visited Pugey – the preschool and elementary school, the mayor’s “office,” a church, and a farm with cows, goats and…llamas (yes, llamas)! There are (as always) photos below of all that.

After eating, everyone joined up again to visit Arguel, another small village only a few minutes from Pugey. We hiked a little bit to visit another church and to find some amazing views of Besançon and of the two towns. It was another great day.

The classrooms
The school again
The world!
The church in Pugey

Llamas !
Ô la vache !
March of the goats
Another view (with the church)

Animal Planet
Pugey and Arguel
My family (…for the day)
More views of Pugey and Arguel

– Matt Lipinski

Le Tour du Monde en 80 Plats

So this is going to be a very short post. March 31 and April 1 in Besançon, there was the “Tour du Monde en 80 Plats” (tour of the world in 80 dishes). These nights are absolutely amazing and extraordinary. To simplify the idea of the two nights, students from more than 20 different countries all cook dishes from their own country. Afterwards, each country sells (not too expensive) these dishes to Besançon citizens, students, etc. There were more than 20 countries there, but there is no way I can remember each one. Every dish was incredibly delicious, but I think I like Venezuela, Iran and Thailand the best. I posted some photos below.

For example, there was:

Thailand, China, Taiwan, Libya, Madagascar, Japan, Venezuela, Romania, Russia, Iran, etc.

Venezeula – black beans, smoked chicken and beef with a small corn flour bread thing
One of the best beers of the night

Iran – rice with saffron, and other stuff I forgot; mixed with lentils and a yogurt and dill “sauce”

Thailand – chicken satay

You know how much I love Thai food; here’s some Thai students from the CLA

Welcoming in the hungry people

Amazing Cantonese rice

Venezuela – Yerba Matte

About two-thirds of the alcohol from the first night
Delicious…things from Syria

Fried sweet potatoes with a plum sauce from Taiwan
Japan girls dancing
Me with my pass for the night…this night I was named “Aína”

Chinese rice dish

– Matt Lipinski