Nice: a farewell to France

Nice in nice…or some other cliche like this is something I tried to avoid saying because I’d heard the corny line too many times already; however, it’s true. I froze my butt off in Belgium then took a few finals and geared up for beach weather in the French Riviera.

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Hopelessly and forever on a budget this trip was second to last, but it was still my last trip with Hannah; my last trip to a French speaking area; my last trip shoved between weekly classes. My abroad experience is coming to a close. I’m not sure I’m ready to leave the beautiful land of Europe and though there are still things on the horizon, this trip seemed like one piece of the grand finale…despite my budget I needed to live large!

Day 1: We left Italy at midnight…went to the wrong train station and had to take a taxi, to reach the correct location of our overnight train within minutes of departure. I almost missed the entire weekend…no good. But we made it, and after many hours and train transfers later, we arrived, stepping out into the land of French Bougie.

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Our Airbnb host was the sweetest older lady ever, with a thick French accent, who tried so hard to speak English; it was adorable.  And after settling in, changing, and freshening up, we walked to find the beach and some French cuisine. Now, don’t get me wrong my favorite thing about Italy is the food, it’s amazing. But I can eat an entire baguette, wheel of cheese and box of chocolates for each meal without an ounce of guilt in France…amazing; that’s what I call heaven.

The weather was perfect, warm enough for a swim the first two days, and a slight breeze so I didn’t get sweaty while tanning. Since all the beaches in Nice have large rocks the wind didn’t permanently ruin my hair by whipping sand into it.

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Lunch was rosé, vegetarian wok (bomb), and…frog legs! I only tried a bite and thought they were disgusting because they’re really more meat than seafood, but Hannah loved them, said they tasted like chicken. And I got to have a conversation with my cute waiter in French, winning. The rest of the day was mostly shopping, sunbathing and eating our hearts out, then crashing early after a long first day, complete with travel.

Day 2 was Monte Carlo. Hannah and I did a short hike in Nice first, then bought groceries at the outdoor market to picnic on the beach in Monaco, excited for a relaxing day in a new part of the riviera…little did we know.

The phrase “this is a man’s world” has never been truer. It was definitely the most immediately disappointing place I’d ever been too. The harbor was riddled with yachts larger than most people’s houses, aside from massive and overdone resorts the only other buildings were a casino or designer clothing stores, and the entire place was a ratio of 50 to 1: men to women. The cars probably pissed me off the most, I think it was Grand Prix weekend so the sound of revving engines never stopped and the men who weren’t driving the ridiculous vehicles were sitting on the side of the road filming and cheering them on.

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Ultimately… the patriarchy is alive and well in Monaco, to the point where men saw any woman and had the nerve to look her up and down as if to say “Yep, that belongs to me” as if girls are a prize, collectible with the yachts, penthouses, and cars! On the bright side, the weather was still perfect and while I was on the beach with my macaroons I felt safe from the city’s annoying culture.

We arrived back in Nice, ate in and watched French reality TV shows attempting to decipher what the people were whining about and laughed happy to be back in the beautiful and kind part of France.

With only a few hours on Sunday, we wanted more bread and cheese…of course, and macaroons so brought another picnic back to the beach, though it was a bit chillier and just relaxed not wanting to return to the loud city of Rome or deal with obnoxious Italians.

One thing I’ve loved about all the French cities was the sound. It was quiet, with lovely music, clean streets and yet still bustling and busy. People can say Parisians are mean, but people in Nice are actually really…nice. The trip was so relaxing until we crossed the Italian border and encountered every training problem possible. But it only made France seem better to me; contrasting paradise to Italian train stations.

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Nothing was wrong there, the weather, the food, the people, the landscape (hiking, beach, and city), the language etc. I want to go back. I still miss it even a week later Italy hasn’t been the same. But I have three days left…yikes! Two finals, then Portugal with the Franco’s. I’ll be back to Cape Cod in a week and a half which seems insane to me, but, I’m on my way. The grand finale really is in full swing.

Can’t wait,

Bri, the barefoot traveler

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