3 Days in Nice, France

One of the best parts of studying abroad is traveling. Weekend trips are extremely common, and I have a bucket list of countries I’d like to visit before my time here ends. I’m extremely lucky to be in Strasbourg, a city so central for travel and closely located to three major airports. Prior to arriving in Strasbourg, I did not think much about traveling within France, focusing more on how I could country-hop on the weekends. However, France has such rich history, with different regions having starkly different cultures due to occupation by other European countries and periods of migration. I decided to take advantage of this and visit Nice, France this past weekend. Prior to landing in Nice, I had my preconceived notions of the French Riviera being posh and flashy, using the tidbits of information I had picked up from pop culture. My ideas were completely changed after my weekend in Nice. My three days in the South of France were absolutely amazing and it may be my favorite trip I have taken during my time abroad, so far.

Nice is the leading resort city in the Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera. The town was originally held by the House of Savoy, of Italy, until it was occupied then ceded to France in the 19th century. This transfer of power is extremely evident in the architecture and parallel style of the city. One minute, I felt like I was in the streets of Italy with brightly colored floors, walls and winding corners. The other minute, I was surrounded by more Rococo and Neoclassic architecture, with intricately designed balcony railings and shutters, very similar to what you would find in traditional French cities. I truly believed I was stepping into a new part of Europe when I ventured from one part of Nice to another.

A beautiful building in the streets of Nice

We spent our first day exploring the Old Town of Nice where we were staying. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the Promenade des Anglais, the main strip right by the ocean, was crowded with people taking their dogs on walks, families taking a stroll, and joggers getting their workout in for the day. My friends and I decided to have a small picnic by the shore to watch the sunset, consisting of our pizza leftovers.  I couldn’t help but feel at peace as I sat on the stone beach taking in the view of the large mass of endless blue water mixing with the peach and purple colors of the sunset. I feel so lucky to have experienced this incredible city. All my preconceived notions have completely washed away, and I know I’ll definitely be returning when the time comes.

We also made the short hike up to the top of Castle Hill, which had the prettiest view of the whole city. The actual castle was, unfortunately, demolished at the request of Louis XIV but numerous historical engravings show that Castle Hill was built to divide the eastern seaport and western old town of Nice. There was also a beautiful, artificial waterfall a little further up.

View from Castle Hill

I couldn’t have had the best weekend trip without the best food. I’m definitely someone that looks forward to trying new foods and eating at the best restaurants when I’m traveling, so I make sure to do my research beforehand for the best “foodie” experience. My friends and I tried “Socca”, the “fast-food” many Niçoise eat on a daily basis. For only 4 euros we got a paper cone filled with a crepe-like pastry made from chickpea flour. 10/10 stars, especially with a little chili powder sprinkled over it. We also tried macaroons from the most famous shop, Angea Nice. Hands down, I had the best macaroons I ever had in my life (even compared to Laudree in Paris!) The shop had the classics, such as pistachio, café, and chocolate. However, they also had unique flavors like the St. Tropez, which was fruitier flavor, and praline, which was my personal favorite. I made sure to stop by the store prior to leaving to get myself a stock of macaroons for my upcoming week back in Strasbourg.

Lastly, my friends and I stopped by an open-air market set up in the center of the old town. Local vendors sold an assortment of fresh fruit, spices, and handicrafts. I had the chance to speak to locals and learn about how long they had lived in Nice and why they decided to become a vendor at the market. Everyone was more than willing to share and it truly helped me feel closer to French culture. I even walked away with some fresh fruit and some handicrafts for my parents.

Socca, a traditional Niçoise food

I look back at my pictures from Nice and am completely taken over by a bittersweet feeling. I feel so lucky to have walked the streets of Old Town and become familiar enough to turn the GPS off when trying to get home. I couldn’t believe it was already time to leave after three short days and wondered how many classes I’d really be missing if I stayed back a few extra days. However, I try to push this bittersweet feeling to the back of my mind knowing I’ll definitely be back one day. À bientôt, Nice!

 

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