Since I still had a week of vacation before starting work, and the weather is still in the high 70’s and low 80’s, and I was all by my lonesome in Toulon, I decided to spend four days in the city in France I have most wanted to see but to which I had never been, Nice (pronounced like niece). One of the reasons I wanted to be in the south of France this time around is because it is one region I have never explored, but have always wanted to. (For some reason, until mid-September 2013, I had just never made it further south than the Alps). So, I called up my host family’s best friend Christine, who lives literally in the center of Nice, and off I went.
Nice is just under two hours away from Toulon by train. I left Tuesday morning and still had the entire day to spare. I was able to walk the ten minutes to Christine’s apartment from the train station, which was amazing and easy to find (I am very lucky to have had the chance to stay with une vraie niçoise!) Christine laid out books, maps, and guides for me to take, which was so helpful. The weather on Tuesday was sunny and beautiful, so I packed up my suit and towel, put on a sundress, and off I went. The first thing I did was walk down past the markets and towards the plaza. I then ventured into Vieux Nice and eventually made it down to the beaches and Quai Des Etats-Unis. I climbed the old chateau in order to experience all of the magnificent views of nice and the Mediterranean Sea. I climbed for about two hours and then had some ice cream at the top, and just “took it all in.” I then decided to spend the rest of the afternoon on the pebble beaches. Even at the end of September, the sea water was quite warm, and I swam and then tanned for another 2.5 hours. All of nice’s beaches are pebble and stone beaches, which most people absolutely hate but I love, because I hate, hate, HATE sand, so I was quite happy to sunbathe on the rocks and leave without nasty sand on my feet. The beaches stretch for miles along nice’s port, but some chunks are sectioned off as “private” beaches (people can pay to use them, and really it’s just a lot less crowded, especially in the summer when the entire country ventures south and fights for spots on the beach). I spent the rest of the day sipping a margarita and exploring the gorgeous streets of Vieux Nice- a perfect introduction to my new favorite French city!
*If you’re interested in my thoughts on modesty in France on the beach, check out my post here!*
On Wednesday I decided to take a local train to Villefranche-sur-mer, to do a little site-seeing and of course hit the beach. Villefranche is a tiny town just outside of nice- about ten minutes away on the train, which was really convenient. I spent the entire morning there, and then I picnicked and laced out on the Sandy beaches before heading back to Nice I the early afternoon. That day, since Christine didn’t work, she and her daughter Caroline (who is my host mom’s goddaughter), drove me all around Nice and its surrounding villages, including Villefranche, Eze, and a few others.
On Thursday I ventured onto my tenth country- Monaco! I went into the Oceanographic Museum, looked around the castle, walked along the port (there was a huge yacht show) and enjoyed a nice lunch in the old town.
On my last day, I met up with another assistant for lunch! Then we walked along thePromenade des Anglais until we reached her apartment. When I went home, I hit up the nighttime markets in Vieux Nice and saw all the monuments at night. It was a great last day! Nice is definitely now one of my favorite cities in France; it was great to experience a short vacation before starting work. I recommend a trip to Nice to anyone wishing to experience the south of France!