With cold weather taking over Paris and schoolwork continuing to pile up, it was time for a vacation. Off we went to the French Riviera! Hannah had already been in Paris for Thanksgiving, and after a delayed flight and more than a bit of turbulence, I met up with her and Riana in Nice. We walked around the streets lit by Christmas lights to our airbnb and planned out our weekend. All we had planned before our arrival was where we were staying, so I was excited to see what they had come up with. Brunch, a walk along the beach, and an afternoon in Monte Carlo! I found a calzone for dinner and ate as we started the movie “Monte Carlo” as inspiration for our getaway.
Bright and early the next morning, it was time to get started! We ate waffles (aka gaufres) with fruit, nutella, etc. at a cafe near where we were staying and walked around the Saturday morning market for a bit. There were so many lavendar products because of Nice’s close proximity to Aix-en-Provence, as well as lots of flowers, cheeses, produce, etc. We even stopped by the Chez Theresa stand to try a Niçoise delicacy: socca. It’s not as thin as a crepe, but similar, and made out of a thick dough with chickpea flower and seasoned with spices. We went to the beach afterwards and were not disappointed. The sun was shining a d the 60 degree air was nothing like what we had been experiencing in Paris. I tried to keep my shoes on, but ended up getting them soaked, and we laid out and took lots of photos before returning to the airbnb (to blowdry my shoes). We headed back out and tried to figure out how to rent the blue bikes, but after we had no luck, we walked in the direction of an area where we knew there were lots of restaurants for lunch. Because we were so close to they water, I couldn’t resist the moules frites, though that combined with carsickness on the way back may not have been the most comfortable. We were on our way to the train station when we saw a bus approaching that we knew was going in the direction of Monaco. We had read that the bus was longer but was worth it because of the scenic view, so we hopped on and sat on the right side as precious tourists had recommended.
Within minutes, it was clear why we were told to sit on this side, and why this was known as one of the most beautiful bus rides in the world. We were on the side of the water, which was a bright blue with sun reflecting off it, and as we continued, we could see all the palm trees and colorful buildings on the coast. We got off at a stop near an ice cream shop we had found, and after I ate my cookies ice cream cone, we headed toward the main attraction: The Casino of Monte Carlo. We ran into a small Christmas market but finally found the casino. We laughed at ourselves as we approached the grand entrance, and after IDing us (only have to be 18 to get into casinos here!) and for some reason not worrying about the fact that we were definitely all breaking the dress code in some way, the guards let us in. At the desk, we paid 17 euros for entrance, which actually included 10 euros to spend inside. We were a bit out of our league; everyone else was much more dressed up and many of the slot machines were actually in French. This was not the vocab I learned in high school! I actually won a few euros at my first machine, then lost a lot, of course. I guess I’m not as good at Blackjack as the machines are. In the end, Hannah actually came out with 30 euros, and I had 3 of the 10 I had spent. Not too bad. Though I’m not sure why people like to gamble so much when it’s so easy to lose all your money so quickly.
We finally found our bus and headed back to Nice, We grabbed some light food on the way back to our airbnb and, of course, had to finish our movie. We actually recognized many of the buildings and views! We hung out for a while, then slept til morning. After packing our things, we found a spot for breakfast, then went on one more walk by the beach to take it all in before heading to the airport.
Before my trip, I honestly wasn’t too excited, as I have already been to quite a few different French cities and had a lot of work that I was stressed about getting done. Nice, however, is just so different from all the other places I had been. If you read my Italy blog post, you know how much I loved the country, and Nice is like a perfect combo between France and Italy. French, Italian, and English are all spoken basically everywhere, and you can’t go wrong with a mix of croissants and pasta! We found the people to be much less harsh and judgemental than in Paris, and other than our last waitress, everyone was willing to work with our French, even though it was often obvious that it wasn’t our langue maternelle. The weather was great, the people were chill, and I was able to explore a cool, new place with two of my friends. I honestly couldn’t have asked for much more! Now I’m off to finish off my last few classes and assignments… I only have under a month left of my time abroad, but many more adventures are coming soon!
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