First weekend excursion

Programs for this blog post

Aerospace Engineering

Authored By:

Aliou Sall

From the perspective of Jowita one of the student engineers.

"We started out early on Saturday morning to make our way to the Canal du Midi. The Canal du Midi is a very important part of the history of the south of France, as we learned on our guided tour of the Saint Ferreol Reservoir and dam. The canal’s purpose was to link the Atlantic and Mediterranean together across France, eliminating the need for French merchants to go around Gibraltar and have to pay the Spanish. The canal is one of the oldest in Europe still in operation. It was fascinating to learn about civil engineering in the 17th and 18th centuries and how it differs from today.

After the dam, we went to Accrobranche. Accrobranche is a classic French leisure activity. The word is derived from “accrocher”, meaning “to hang” or “to cling”, and “branche”, or a tree branch. As the name implies, accrobranche is where you are strapped into a harness and complete an obstacle course high above the ground. The obstacles can be anything from zip lines to walking across moving logs. Accrobranche was a lot of fun! Most kids managed to completed a red course, which was the hardest level they had.

Finally, we went to Astronomy Night, which was hosted at La Rouatiere, a boarding school. The sky was too cloudy to see any astronomical objects, but while the sun was still out we had a chance to observe wind farms and towers far away through La Rouatiere’s two telescopes. Once the sun set and we couldn’t see anymore, we went inside to see the planetarium and Nicolas’s astrophotography. Although we stayed out until 11 or midnight, the sky still did not clear. Even though we were not able to see any stars or planets, astronomy night was still amazing! I loved being able to use and manipulate the telescopes, which were extremely powerful.

The next day, we woke up bright and early to leave La Rouatiere and go to Carcassonne, a famous medieval city. Carcassonne has a long and colorful history due to its strategic position, which meant that everyone tried to capture it. It was also a stronghold for Cathars, a persecuted sect of Christianity. This meant that Carcassonne was the site of many crusades and sieges. We took a guided tour of the outside area and then had free time to explore the inside, which had many shops and restaurants. Finally, we went to the castle. It was very interesting to see the aspects of medieval architecture and life that were preserved in the castle."