Early on Saturday (and when I mean early, I don’t mean MY early, i.e. 9:00 am. I mean actually early) at 5:00 am, I unfortunately had to wake up to drag myself to a bus in a place where I had never been before to go to the French Riviera. Somehow, myself, Andrea, and Juliana (my two other roommates) made it to the little square and sat on the bus for about five hours to get to our first stop in Monaco, on the French Riviera.
Personally, I think Monaco is pretty cool (but I am a huge nerd, as you will soon see). Monaco isn’t really a part of France, it’s its own principality, its own state. If I was to be princess or duchess or whatever you want to call it of a place, it would be Monaco. I mean, how many problems can the second-smallest state in the world (only second to Vatican City) have to deal with?
Monaco itself looks like a place out of a storybook, very reminiscent of Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy with its pastel buildings and quaint fountains and views. The second we stepped off the bus, we climbed what felt like a mountain to old city Monaco, where we passed the Cathedral and the Palace of Justice before watching the once-daily changing of the guard right before noon.
After Monaco, we headed right to Nice, where we were staying (thank the Lord). Nice has much more of a big-city feel than Monaco did, with huge towering buildings (still in their pastel colors) and people that actually live there, jogging getting ready for the marathon that day and walking their dogs. Andrea and I missed the tour (what a surprise) so after miraculously finding Juliana and Nicole, who were also lost, we gave ourselves our own little tour and snapped pictures of the buildings that looked like they were probably something important.
As the sun went down, we finally neared the beach, which had a few sets of couples making out on the rocky beach itself as the waves crashed in. It was pretty cool to look out from the coast to see the rest of the French Riviera and Nice, sparkling in all of its rich glory.
That night, we stayed in actual hotel rooms (!) and had a free dinner sponsored by the tour itself, which was hosted by my study abroad school, Lorenzo de’ Medici, and paid for by my University back home. We once again had to get up at an ungodly hour (7:00 am) for some breakfast before getting back on the bus and heading to St. Paul de Vence, a medieval town sitting atop a hill which boasts the best views of the Riviera and the surrounding countryside.
The town itself, which resembles Siena of Italy, remained closed for most of the time we were there because it was a Sunday morning, but it was actually kind of nice to wander the abandoned streets and look out at the land with drifting clouds and fog hanging overhead. Looking out, I wondered who owned the beautiful mansions that dotted the land, what movie stars had the chance to spend however long they felt like here.
Then, we went to Cannes, which honestly sounds a lot better in theory than it is in person. Maybe because it was raining. Maybe because there were no movie stars in sight. Whatevs. Anyway, when we got there, we strolled the streets for a while, glancing at the big-name designers that crowd the road that lines the water, before hopping onto the actually sandy beach and gazing over the water and down the coastline of the rest of the Riviera.