Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Break Part Three: French Riviera

After two beautifully relaxing days in Prague, I was off on the third leg of my break: to the insanely beautiful Southern France. Travel to France was much smoother and shorter. We flew from Prague to Zurich, Switzerland (where I fell in love with the adorable little airport and hope to visit again) and then onto Nice, France.

The first day in Nice consisted largely of eating, with little bits of walking here and there. It was so incredibly windy when we first got there, it was almost impossible to stay outside for very long! So we just meandered around the downtown until it was time to check into our hostel. We stayed at the Villa Saint Exupéry Beach Hostel in downtown Nice. This trip was another one with Bus2Alps (which I mentioned in the previous post about Croatia), so they set up our accommodations and transportation. This hostel was...not my favorite in the whole world. We shared a room with six other girls, and only had one bathroom (aka ten girls to one bathroom = lots of annoyance). The free breakfast, which I was especially excited about after the one in Budapest, consisted of a wide variety of choices including: toast or cereal. And considering I don't drink milk, my options were narrowed to the toast. The upside was the beds: memory foam pillows and mattresses. So I slept like a baby, but other than that I wasn't very pleased with the hostel.

Our second day in Nice we received a tour of the downtown and surrounding areas. Our tour guide lead us in a very French manner: she would march ahead of us, pointing a giant baguette. Her favorite saying was, "follow the baguette!" She told us the story of the renowned French robber, managed to steal millions from a bank in plain sight, during the day, without hurting anyone or using any weapons. When he was caught and brought to trial, he managed to escape by jumping out the courthouse window and driving away with a friend who had been waiting on a motorcycle. To this day he hasn't been found, and the French regard him not as a criminal, but as a "hero."

She also brought us to the top of this giant hill, where we could see the entire city sprawled out beneath us. At the top there were streams and brooks and a giant waterfall. It felt like we weren't in the city at all, but in some sort of wilderness area. It was raining for much of our tour too (although it wasn't cold) so eventually our faithful baguette began to get soggy and our tour guide resorted to eating most of it. She was pretty cool.

The best thing about Nice was the gelato. One store with 95 different flavors. Could you get any more close to heaven than that?? The greatest thing was, I remember going to that exact gelato shop the first time I was in Nice when I was fourteen. It was interesting to reminice on how I remembered it versus how I was seeing it in the present day. I think while I was in France I ate gelato three times a day. At least. The very first flavor I tried (and I think the best from what I had there) was lavender. "What?! Ew. Gross. No!" is what you're probably thinking, right? Well, wrong. It was delicious! Just absolutely amazing and indescribable as you might think lavender gelato might be. Needless to say I was back at that shop often over the next few days.

Our third day in the French Riviera we took a bus trip to the neighboring towns of Eze and Monaco. In Eze we visited the Fragonard Perfume Factory, which I had also visited when I was in France the first time. It was so much larger this time though! They expanded their products from just perfumes to include soaps, lotions, and even argan oil for dry skin and hair. I love these kind of shops, so I was in heaven.

Monaco was one of the most fascinating places I've ever been. I come from a very affluent town, but I've never seen money like it exists there. People drive around in their Rolls Royces and Bugattis as if they were Fords and Toyotas. The yachts we saw in the harbor were easily worth millions of dollars. And this is just petty cash to most of the people that live there! I can't even imagine. I tried my luck in Monte Carlo, gambling a whopping .26 euros before I gave up on the slot machine because I didn't understand how the game worked. My grandma would be so disappointed in my gambling skills. Sorry Grammie!

It had finally warmed up, so we spent some time on the beach in Monaco. The water here was easily just as pretty as the water in Croatia. I was so bummed I didn't bring my bathing suit. I could have bought one there, but it most likely would have set me back around 100 euros. So I didn't. But I soaked up some sun, and enjoyed the beach anyway.

We ended our last night in Nice with what I would like to call The Last Supper, French Style. We found an obscure little restaurant and ordered what appeared to be just your typical tomato pasta with eggplant. It was so far from typical. It was a huge pan of pasta with perfect tomato cream sauce and sautéed eggplant, topped with melted cheese and basil. It was ginormous. And I ate the entire thing. I dream about that pasta. It was honestly perfection. In every bite. And of course I had gelato (three different kinds) for desert. I don't think I've ever been so full. I was definitely waddling.

Our final morning in France was beautiful and serene. We went down to the famous Fruit and Flower Market, and got all the fixings for brunch on the beach before we left to go back to Prague. We got fresh baguettes, homemade goat cheese and brie, fresh salami, strawberries, and homemade fig jam. Eating that meal on the beach, in the company of some of my best friends, rehashing our experiences of the last week is a memory I will never forget.

 Je t'aime, Nice! And I think it's safe to say that I'll be back to visit you again soon. Au revoir!


  1. Happiness is 95 flavors of gelato! PS grammie says she will take u to Vegas for some slot lessons!

  2. Haha I think I'm going to need it, especially since I couldn't the first time she took me!!