Heaven is in the South of France
Crystal blue waters, clear skies, extraordinary food, kind people, and sun: welcome to my version of heaven, which just so happens to overlap exactly with the atmosphere and climate of the south of France. From last Wednesday to this Monday, I was able to spend time in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, Nice, and Monte Carlo. It was absolutely unforgettable.
Although I love London, don't get me wrong, people aren't exaggerating when they tell you that it rains here -- a lot. It is more unusual for it to be sunny than it is for a day to be overcast with a 100 percent chance of rain, and the time that I have spent here has been no exception to the rule. Since summer is by far my favorite season of the year, I found that I was really missing it a few short weeks into my time in London! Umbrellas, rain boots, sweaters and jackets aren't my idea of summer gear, so I resolved to take a trip somewhere to soak up some serious sunshine before I finished the program here. Since I am fortunate enough to intern for a company that works online, and can therefore complete my work anywhere as long as I have my laptop and a wireless connection, my supervisor encouraged me to spend some time in the south of France. Especially if I was looking for a more summer-y climate. I eventually elected to stay in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, which is a very small town between Nice and Cannes on the southern coast of France. Because the town is much, much smaller than it's neighbors, hotel rooms were cheaper, there seemed to be more owner-run establishments, the public beaches wouldn't be so crowded, and it wouldn't be as full of tourists. All those things were important to me -- since I planned on taking a solo trip. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with where I was staying, and I also really wanted to avoid tourists. Since the Olympics are starting so soon in London, hundreds of thousands of people have been flying in from all over the world, and the city has seemed to shrink in size over the past few weeks. There are so many people here!
So, it was with these things in mind that I booked my beachfront hotel in Cagnes-Sur-Mer for 5 nights, and flew out of London Gatwick on Wednesday night after class. When I flew into the Cote d'Azur airport in Nice, I almost wept for joy to see palm trees and people wearing shorts. No sweaters or rain boots needed! I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at my hotel and discover that this was to be my view for the next few days:
It was amazing! I ended up spending two days wandering around Cagnes-Sur-Mer and spending some time at the beautiful pebble beach that was literally right across the street. I also took two trips -- to the city of Nice, and to Monte Carlo in Monaco. The city of Nice was much larger than the small town I was staying in, and it was about 30 minutes by bus, or 15 by train. I opted to take the bus, and spent a day wandering in and out of the city's back streets and walking along the promenade that ran parallel to the beach. What struck me most were the colors of the city -- the buildings were painted in beautiful colors of yellows, oranges, and sometimes pale greens, and their weather-beaten look seemed to come right out a National Geographic magazine. I also visited the church in the center of town, which was extraordinary. The picture below is one that I took up a small, winding side street. Check out the gorgeous colors of the buildings!
Although my day in Nice was definitely hard to top, my trip to Monte Carlo was my favorite part of my time in France. Although I went on a Sunday, and I wasn't dressed appropriately to enter the casino, a lot of the buildings were painted in soft hues of pink. It gave the entire city such a warm feeling, and I was able to walk around in front of the casino, take pictures of the huge fountain, and eat my lunch in the gardens that are in the center of the city. Overall, it was an amazing trip. I was very sad to leave, and it was a real reality check to land back at Gatwick on Monday morning where it was cold and rainy! I only have two more full days left here in London, and as I get ready to turn in my assignments, finish up my internship and squeeze in a few more experiences here (on Saturday morning I am taking a tour of the BBC studios with some other members of my group) I am beginning the process of saying goodbye to London. I'll be sure to post again soon.
Until then, cheers!