The French Riviera: From Nice to Monaco
Written by Katie March 3, 2015
My travels led me to Nice, France this past weekend. Let me begin by saying that Nice is more than nice. The French Riviera is gorgeous, enchanting, and glamorous altogether. This scenic region attracts rich tourists from all over the world, so as a poor college student I figured why not experience this area myself! Between booking flights for the wrong days and the airline overbooking our flight, the journey to France was a bit bumpy. This weekend proved to test our willingness to be adaptable and receptive to change.
When I envisioned the French Riviera, I always thought of the lofty cliffs overlooking the sparkling blue water and its warm, sunny climate. After checking the weather forecast a few days prior to departure, I came to the realization this may not be quite as tropical of a vacation as I’d hoped for. Regardless of the weather conditions or time of day, Nice is beautiful! The lights and street decor in celebration of Carnival added to the city’s charm and elegance.
After checking into our hostel, a staff member directed us to some popular spots in Nice’s busiest quarter. I was pleasantly surprised by our first stop at King’s Pub. As we walked through the door, we were greeted with a talented rock band and an upbeat, festive atmosphere. However, we didn’t stay long as we had a long day ahead the following morning.
Since we were staying in Nice, we decided to visit as much of French Riviera as possible. Our goal was to spend part of the Saturday in the luxurious Principality of Monaco as it was only a 45 minute bus ride. Our bus ride also allowed us the opportunity to visit the beautiful hilltop medieval village of Èze. As we waited for our bus to transfer, we befriended a Chilean student. The time passed quickly as we exchanged stories and travel tips with one another. He was eager to explore Èze with us and even requested we be featured in a video about his travel companions across Europe.
Within a matter of minutes, we found ourselves in a torrential downpour. However, we refused to let it stop us from seeing the magnificent Jardin Exotique panorama in Èze. We weaved through the narrow water-filled streets and passageways and entered the exotic gardens after trekking up the steep winding rocky path.
Despite the rain, the vibrant vegetation and the striking view overlooking the village remains one of my highlights of the entire weekend.
We continued our journey to another famous town along the coastline, Monte Carlo. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (right after Vatican City), so we figured why not add another country to the list! Monaco may be a tiny country, but it managed to make a memorable impression with its Mediterranean architecture, scenic villas, luxurious cars, enormous yachts, and impeccably clean streets.
Although I knew Monaco was an extremely wealthy country, I was shocked to discover Monaco’s 0% unemployment rate and 0% income tax rate for its residents. We made a stop at the world-renowned Monte Carlo Casino and the sun even came out for a short while!
With hopes of the weather clearing up, we ventured to Port Hercule and admired the collection of yachts occupying the bay. We stumbled upon a seaside restaurant and I was thrilled when our waitress informed us they provide FREE water!
The next day, we embarked on an early morning adventure to watch the sunrise along the Promenade des Anglais, a boardwalk along the Mediterranean Sea. Although it was a subtle sunrise, I loved the serenity of gazing down the shoreline, which seemed to stretch on for miles on end.
Upon return to Paderno, we began a week of classes and numerous CAP (CIMBA Advantage Program) events. One of the great things about CIMBA is the variety of activities offered to enrich our experience abroad. Within this past week, I was fortunate to attend a global cultural comparisons seminar, an expatriate panel, and tour a local Italian company.
The global cultural comparison seminar took place on Monday. After learning about the similarities and differences that coexist between culture in Italy and the United States, it allowed me to see America differently. I’ve learned that despite our differences, we all have much more in common and that language is the thread that connects.
This past Wednesday, we toured local businesses throughout the Treviso area. I visited Loison Pasticceri, a company that produces sweet products such as pannettone, cakes, and cookies. I was fascinated to learn how this family business has evolved over three generations. With the emergence of the Internet, their exports have skyrocketed. In fact, they currently ship their products to 56 countries worldwide! The owner, Sig. Dario Loison, shared the company’s history, products and business strategies before moving into a factory visit and an insolito pannettone tasting.
Later that evening, we listened to an intriguing group of individuals speak about their experience as expatriates (those who leave their home country to work and live abroad). The panel discussion allowed me to consider this career path for myself. I’ve learned that the opportunities ahead are endless. In addition, I’ve learned it is possible to have more than one place to call home.
After such a busy week, I decided to stay back and use the time to explore the local area instead. It’s mind boggling to think that a low-key weekend in Paderno refers to climbing Mount Grappa one day and paragliding the next. But if that’s what relaxation looks like these days, I’ll gladly make the most of it.
Ciao for now!