The French Riviera

Another trip has already come and gone! Within the span of 48 hours, I got to see four of the most beautiful cities along the French Riviera. I would have never been able to plan this trip on my own; my school here organized the whole trip. A 4:30 a.m., the alarm woke me up so that by 6:00 a.m., I was on the bus, on my way to Cannes. After a few more hours of sleep on the bus, we got off to greet the beautiful beaches of Cannes. We roamed along the water for a few hours here. Cannes is apparently a hub for huge, expensive yachts – but not the only one on this weekend trip! One of the sites we saw was the location of the Cannes Film Festival. The red carpet was not out, but I could only imagine how crowded the area will be during the festival!
We boarded the bus again in the afternoon, joined by a tour guide. As we made our way along the coast toward Nice, our guide pointed out various sites and gave us some history about the area. Once we arrived in Nice, we toured the areas of the famous flower markets, a couple of the churches, and the shoreline. After a long day of touring and exploring these two cities, we had a delicious meal in our hotel. Of course, no tourist trip is complete without getting a little lost. While on a walk that evening exploring Nice, we learned that it is incorrect to assume that looping around a few blocks will lead you to your starting point; something we know well in Florence because the streets aren’t in the least grid-like. Luckily, it only took us about a half an hour to find our hotel again.
The following morning, we set off to a perfume factory a bit farther along the coast. We toured the facilities, which were unfortunately not running because it was the weekend. We learned some very interesting information though. Apparently, it takes ten years for someone to train professionally as a “nose”, or someone who is exceptionally good at identifying smells. They are also not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages or coffee, because these would inhibit their senses. After the tour of the factory, we were given an hour to ourselves, which most of us chose to climb up the hill next to the factory. This route led us to the medieval city of Eze.
Eze is the oldest and most quaint, beautiful city I have ever seen. It is perched right at the top of a hill that overlooks the sea. It is so hard to get there since there are very few routes for cars and most of the stone buildings and alleys wouldn’t fit them anyway. It is the first city that I’ve ever thought of describing as charming. Unfortunately, we only had an hour’s worth of time to explore this old city, which was not nearly enough. We had to stay on schedule for our final destination: Monaco!
The bus drives along the coast to get to all of these cities, which were honestly a bit terrifying. The streets wrapped around rocky hills, with guard rails barely two feet high only a few inches from the edge of the cliffs. Luckily, the views were enough to distract me. Monaco was by far the most breathtaking. The view from just about any point in the city is amazing, since the whole city is a crescent shape, wrapping around a port. It almost has the feel of a stadium or theatre, with the buildings as the audience and the port being the center of the spectacle. We made it just on time to see the change of the guard in front of the palace. Afterwards, we toured the city gardens, the church, and some of the port. Ordering food turned out to be a bit funny: without thinking, I responded in Italian to the server speaking French. Somehow he still understood, and our conversation ended up containing three different languages!
Our final stop was the casino in Monte Carlo. Yes – we were allowed to gamble. I can therefore say that the first time I gambled was in Monte Carlo. Recording the event was impossible though, as picture taking was prohibited. The Casino of Monte Carlo was definitely a sight to see though, as were the surrounding area of prestigious-looking buildings. As the sun set, we took a final walk along the water before boarding the bus to take the long journey back to Florence.