The month of May is unofficially known as the month of Bank Holidays (or jours fériés) in France. Seriously– despite being a secular country, the month of May is gold, with the 1st, 8th, and 25th all included as bank holidays. In 2017, it was even better, as the 1st and the 8th fell on Monday, and the 25th on a Thursday– which meant two three-day weekends, as well as a four-day weekend, because you can’t have off of school on Thursday and then come back for Friday! (This is known as ‘faire le pont‘, or ‘making a bridge‘, in French). Needless to say, I took advantage of direct Easyjet flights between Lille and Nice as well as the long weekend at the end of May to go visit my friend Julia.
Since I used to live in the Côte d’Azur, I know it well and had few expectations. I just wanted to relax, catch some rays, eat some gelato, hit up the beach, and not think about work.
I spent one morning going on a nice, long run along the promenade. Since last summer’s terrorist attacks, much of it has been ripped apart and is under construction– I believe with the attempt of widening and restructuring the cycle and pedestrian paths.
The first night I arrived (Thursday), Julia took me out for a night at Wayne’s for some live music; on Friday, we strolled the neighborhood of Vieux Nice and had a great dinner out.
On Friday, Julia and I also ventured out to Beaulieu-sur-Mer to visit Villa et Jardin Ephrussi de Rothschild, a tourist attraction I had never visited before.
A bit of background information: Béatrice de Rothschild was born in 1864. Highly intelligent, she married a Parisian banker, Maurice Ephrussi when she was 19 and Maurice was 36. Unfortunately for Béatrice, she caught an STD from Maurice, and became infertile. At the same time, Maurice had a serious gambling addiction, and was about 30 million euros in debt in 1904. Béatrice’s father filed for her divorce after 21 years of marriage, but then died one year later, leaving her with a vast fortune. It was with this money that she constructed the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. She filled the villa with her art collections and lived there during the cold winter months for over 10 years. She loved tennis, boxing, and her dogs; she was considered quite a modern woman for her time. Today, the villa is open to visitors and is surrounded by nine beautiful and diverse gardens.
It costs 14€ for a full ticket price, 11€ for a student or ‘young person’, but you can also use your Pass Education or under 26 discount if you are a legal resident or citizen of Europe. To get there, either take the 81 or 100 buses; or the train to Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Julia and I also joined a free tour in French to learn more about the designs and interiors in depth, but dipped out after an hour to head to the gardens.
We also explored the gardens on our own.
On our way home, we stopped off at Villefrance-sur-Mer for an apéro on the waterfront.
On Saturday, Julia and I did something that both of us have always wanted to do in Nice but hadn’t yet had the chance (or the funds): We went parasailing in Nice!! It was such a fun and cool experience! I’m so glad she suggested it! I don’t have any pictures of the actual event, but we did hang out on the beach for awhile after. For two people, it is 40€ each!
Every time I head back to the Côte d’Azur, there is a part of me that misses the sea and the non-stop sunshine (but especially the sea). But then each time I come back to Lille, I realize how much I love the north and how much it does feel like home.
I’m not sure of the next time I’ll be back in the sunny south, so I’m living vicariously through these photos, especially as summer gets closer and closer.