A Taste of the French Riviera

As a belated graduation present, I’ve been doing some traveling with my mom in Europe, starting in Nice, France! Our journey started out a little rough when we encountered some flight problems. We were originally supposed to fly from DC to New York to Nice, but because of bad weather problems in DC, our first flight to New York got delayed so much that we’d miss our flight from New York to Nice. At first, it seemed like there was no solution except to do the same itinerary the following day, essentially losing an entire day in Nice, but after much persistence, the Delta Airlines rebooked us on British Airways, leaving from the other DC airport, and stopping in London before arriving in Nice. Although I really dislike British Airways, it got us there faster than the alternative! But to sum that all up, we had a crazy experience at the airport trying to rework everything.

We stayed at the AC Marriott Hotel in Nice, which is right off the Promenade des Anglais and the beach. We had a really friendly taxi driver from the airport to the hotel, and when we arrived, we went straight up to the hotel’s rooftop terrace and pool to relax a little. The terrace had cool views of the seaside and the city. We stayed there for happy hour before cleaning up and going out for dinner and a walk around Nice’s city center. We had some really good chicken with truffle mashed potatoes, wine, and baguette. French food is quite good!

The next day we accidentally slept in way longer than we wanted, since we were exhausted from all the flying and time change, but we spent the afternoon at Hi Beach, where we rented beach chairs (since Nice’s beaches are rocky). It felt so good to lay under the sun and tan. We also swam for awhile in the Mediterranean’s bright blue warm waters. I could have stayed there forever! It was beautiful and the perfect temperature! After enjoying a quality beachside happy hour, we went to go walk around Nice’s narrow old town streets, shopping for gifts, watching street performers, and eating some yummy gelato from Fennocchio. We also walked all around the Place Massena, and heard music from the nearby jazz festival. It was great that there were so many people out & about so late at night. The city felt full of life!

 

The next day we had the “perfect French morning”. We woke up early and stopped at a Boulangerie to eat some yummy croissants and pastries before going to Nice’s famous Cours Saleya Market. It’s known as a flower market, and while they do sell a lot of beautiful flowers, they also sell all kinds of food and crafts – ripe fruits, freshly baked pastries, even meats. We bought some soaps and other gifts for friends and family, and we also bought some of the reddest strawberries I’ve ever seen. We ate them sitting at a nearby café, drinking our morning cappuccinos.

After, we walked to the Colline du Chateau, the hill upon which Nice’s old castle was built. The top gives incredible panoramic views of the orange roofed city and the bright blue seaside. We walked from there to the Port down the Promenade des Anglais, along the seaside the whole way. I saw people cliff jumping and was super jealous. If I hadn’t been wearing a dress I totally would have joined them. After admiring the Port, we caught the 100 bus towards Menton that drives east along the coast. We got off in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where we first walked around up and down hilly streets stopping to look at stores. After getting a map at the Office of Tourism (we were so lost without it), we made our way to the famous Monte Carlo Casino, which has a very regal feel. Maybe that’s due to the intricate architecture, or the royal flags decorating the air, or just the array of Ferrari’s, Bentley’s, & Bugatti’s filling the parking spaces.

Monte Carlo Casino

Monte Carlo Casino

For lunch we had a nice, cool gazpacho at the Café de Paris before walking down the hills to check out Monaco’s Port, filled with sailboats, yachts, and cruise ships alike. When we returned to Nice, we went to the main commercial area to do a little shopping. All the stores were having big summer sales, so we found some really good deals. We had an early dinner at an outdoor restaurant before heading back to the hotel, where we basically passed out from exhaustion.

The last morning in Nice we spent walking around the city, eating croissants and drinking cappuccinos at a street side café, buying extra pastries from a Boulangerie for our next train ride, and exploring a supermarket before packing our things and taking a taxi to the train station, where we boarded a train to Ventimiglia, Italy, and officially left France. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the French Riviera. It was really relaxing and beautiful, with palm trees, beautiful water, gorgeous building with cool balconies, and tons of people meandering around the city. I also feel like it still has a bit of that old-school vibe from the likes of the F. Scott Fitzgerald writing era, and a movie-star feel; for example, the fact that one of Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt’s kids was born at the hospital there! (the taxi driver told me). But it also felt a little weird, since I don’t speak any French. This was the first time I’d been to a country where I don’t speak the language, and although I could figure out some things in French, I found it sad not being able to talk with random people. My French skills are pretty much limited to “bonjour” and “merci”. That being said, it was a good first taste of France, as I’m sure I’ll be back again sometime. I still haven’t seen Paris, and France is really cute!

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