This weekend was go, go, go! All seventy-something students piled into two buses and drove down to the coast for the weekend. The first stop was Nice, my favorite city that we visited. We started out by walking through the famous flower market. They sell more than flowers though- olives, meats, soaps, produce, etc.
Above Nice there are the ruins of the old look out and fort that protected the city. If you hike up a bunch of steps, there is a beautiful view of the city at the top. There is also an archeological dig to unearth an old cathedral.
On the walk back down from the top, we came across a catholic, protestant, and Israelite cemetery on the side of the hill. All of the graves were extremely ornate and beautiful. It reminded me of a smaller, slightly more organized Pere Lachaise in Paris. Since the cemetery was built on the side of the hill, there was another gorgeous view of the entire city.
After walking for hours in Nice, the group stopped by a perfume factory for a tour. “The Nose” is the main perfume maker at a factory. He/She is trained to trained to recognize over 3,000 smells. How is this for a work week- the nose can only work 2 hours each day and must take a break every 10 minutes in order to preserve their sense of smell. And I thought normal Frenchmen were lucky with their 35 hour work week, but the nose really has it made!
Saturday night, the group drove 10 minutes down the road to Monaco. That country is beautiful and tres, tres chic! The casino itself was also very impressive and ornate. Outside the casino, there was a long line of people just admiring the fancy cars that drive up and watching the James Bond-looking people get out and go inside. I decided to save my money and not try my hand at gambling, and it’s a good thing too since the students who did gamble all came back with less money in their wallets.
The hostel we stayed at was gorgeous! When I woke up in the morning (at 6:30 since my body refuses to sleep anymore) I walked out to a beautiful sunrise over the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, cameras don’t capture the beauty of sunrises very well.
Sunday morning we got back on the bus and went to Cannes. My impression of Cannes was that it was like bits of Monaco and Nice rolled into one. While it was very pretty, there was much less to do there than in Nice. After two full days of walking, we were all pretty beat and less excited to do more walking. If I were staying through the spring, i I would definitely plan a trip to Cannes for the film festival. I can’t begin to imagine how exciting that would be. Cannes also has an old fort and cathedral at the top of a hill. On the way up, we passed the fortress where the Man in the Iron Mask was held for a time. Apparently the legend got the story partially wrong- instead of wearing an iron mask, the prisoner really wore a velvet one. An iron one makes for a much better story, don’t you think? He was also pretty crafty because he managed to escape from prison a few times before being recaptured and was eventually forced into an island prison to prevent further escapes.
Like in Nice, the view from the top of the fortress is beautiful. You can see the whole city and surrounding area. This region of France is probably the most beautiful place that I have ever been too. The landscape is very rugged with rocky mountain cliffs, dusty, orange dirt, and mountainsides covered in trees or, in many cases, grape vines. I love it!
I am very glad that I went on this trip- it was a wonderful way to experience more of the area. I would love to go back to Nice if time allows. There is so much to do and see there, that one afternoon did not do it justice. I am pretty exhausted though and look forward to crashing in bed soon.
I think the hardest thing for me to adjust to so far is the eating habits. Starting this week I’m going to cut back on the copious amounts of cheese I have been eating. (I let myself indulge for a week as vacation) While delicious, I don’t think eating 6 types of cheese everyday is a sustainable habit. Jenna and I struggle every night to wait until 9pm to eat! The French tend to eat dinner very late, so it has been hard for me to adjust to eating so late when I am normally ready for dinner at 5:30. We are both starving at an American dinner time and keep having to snack to hold us over. Hopefully in another week or so, my stomach will be better trained.
I’m off to relax for the rest of the evening and to get ready for school tomorrow! Bissoux!