The French Riviera: Abridged
Or: A One-Day Summary of My One Month Along the South of France, Minus Venice
From my observations, good, full days always begin with the statement, “Here is your Nutella, Miss Epperly!” – and that is how my day began.
After our splendid breakfast (as usual!), we are greeted by our driver, Eddie, from Nizza Travel. Now, Nizza Travel has a special place in my heart after my misadventures last year – they were the most reliable thing about France. They got to know my father very well from the times that he would Skype them (from 3 AM in the States), requesting a transfer from the Nice airport back to Juan-Les-Pins. This particular transfer was upon my arrival from Venice, where I’m positive I looked like a hobo walking off of my Air France flight at midnight. I like to think I’m not the type that travels in “my best sweats” as Michael says, regarding fellow travelers; I was a little less frazzled this morning than my last encounter with Nizza.
Eddie’s a nice guy around my age, and his phone is blowing up. I’ve never seen anything like it – it goes off every other minute. This wouldn’t be a problem if he hadn’t checked it every time while driving down the road. I’m in the front seat and make sure to look straight ahead, as I’d like to see what kind of car might eventually kill me. Dad finally asks him to hold off on checking the phone, at which point he apologizes and explains that it’s his birthday. He complains that birthdays are only good for other people to annoy him on Facebook – kind of funny, but we don’t want it to be his death day too, so it’s a relief when he stops texting and driving.
Our first stop is St. Paul de Vence, which I’ve never actually visited. It’s a great place that reminds me a lot of Eze – uphill walking through narrow roads and little shops. I love it, although I worry that we might have missed some in our 20 minute brief walk around. It’s a place that I’d like to explore more, as I really enjoyed the little chocolate shop and art gallery in which we spent most of our time.
Next, we drive through Antibes to see the marina, where I’ve been. However, since I simply walked around the marina following a printed guide, I did not know that this is the biggest marina in all of Europe; nor did I know to continue walking toward the back, which is appropriately called “Billionaire’s Bay”. These mega-yachts, with Ferraris parked outside and helipads on top, are incredible. I just have no idea what kind of job/title/family could get you something like this, but I’d like to try for it. I only need to sell a couple more vacations to afford one tank of gas, so I’d say I’m well on my way.
Per my request, we drive through Juan-Les-Pins to show my parents the little town in which I lived last summer. I felt like Wynona Rider in Mr. Deeds when she returns to her hometown – minus the fact that she’s lying about everything. I’ve returned to a place that I knew so well, yet no one has missed me. All of the sights went something alonge the lines of: “And here’s the panini shop with that one guy who gave me the free french fries! And here’s the shop that I would buy my telephone cards to call home and cry to you! And here’s the Laundromat where we would steal their wireless internet!”.
It’s short and bittersweet, and it gives me time to reflect on the past. In a moment of introspection, I’m simultaneously considering myself this time last year and how my life has changed. It’s amazing how much there is planned for us that we cannot even begin to fathom, and all you can do to get to that point is to appreciate each moment to the fullest. No going back, no rushing forward – it’s something I’ve been forcing myself to learn.
Enough about that – you’re here for the travel! We zip through JLP and onto Cannes, where Eddie lets us out to walk the Croisette. Much to my delight, my parents love the town. It’s such a surreal experience walking along these streets with my parents, eating paninis and gelato by the Palais and retelling stories from my time here. “And here’s where I received my first ticket to the world premier of Up! And here’s where I saw Martin Scorsese and Roger Ebert!”, etc. etc. I’m so glad that they’re impressed – I really did fall in love with this city while here, I just happened to have the worst luck in any given circumstance, causing my time to be a bit bittersweet. They finally got to see the beauty, and not just my panicked phone calls home.
We head back through Nice, with a brief tour from Eddie, and onward to one of my favorite places: Eze. This Medieval garden city is just so charming, and we enjoy walking around the streets and buying little trinkets and souvenirs. Not too much more to say about it, as I’ve said it all before! Eze is the type of place you have to see to believe, like a storybook come true.
Finally, we make our way to Monaco. Eddie explains the area as “special”, detailing all of the rules (specifically: how one must address an officer and that you must definitely not litter, or else said officer will give you a ticket on the spot). It is a great place – super cool to see all of the expensive cars flying by, being driven by people who barely look older than me. Again, what do these people do for a living?! Oh, right – they drive their limited edition BMW Z8s (of which there are only 2500 in the world; I also believe this was a Bond car? Correct me if I’m wrong, Josh. The driver told me all of this, but I knew what a Z8 was – got to love the luxury cars) around Monte Carlo. The Casino area of Monte Carlo is extravagant – we take pictures with the Maseratis and super nice Mercedes parked outside. I hate doing this because I’m afraid the owner will see me taking a picture and get all cocky about his car. I kid you not, it happened to me once when I drove a Mustang, and it went straight to my head. Not that my little ‘stang has anything on a Phantom.
My hands are seriously aching as I write this, as is the rest of me. It’s amazing that an 8 hour tour like this can drain you of all of your energy, but it has done just that. I’m off to enjoy our last night on the Legend (sad!) and will update tomorrow when we arrive in Paris (happy!).
Peace, love, and Nutella from France.