Week six and our bodies have officially shut down. We have been traveling pretty much non stop over the course of the past month and a half. We’ve been sick, we’re run down and in dire need of a week spent in bed. France was the place for us to rejuvenate and get ready for the next half of our trip.
It’s no secret that the French specifically do not like Americans, especially when those Americans are visiting their country. That being said, France was never on my list of top places I wanted to visit. Lexy is in love with Paris, so we made a quick day trip there on our way to the French Riviera.
Six hours in Paris is tough. Paris is HUGE, which meant we needed to make a short list of iconic landmarks and move swiftly through the big city in order to not miss our train. The Eiffel Tower was our first stop. We decided to head to the supermarket beforehand, grab a baguette, meats, cheeses and champagne to fulfill our picnic on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower. It was extremely relaxing to sit outside and stare at the beautiful Tower in the sunlight. I honestly could’ve laid on that lawn all day and been perfectly fine with my trip to Paris.
After two hours, we walked along the water towards the Louvre. The Louvre is absolutely stunning. The ambiance reminded me of Pisa, you walk up and are immediately surrounded by people standing on boulders trying to “touch the top of the Louvre.” It’s such a great place to people watch. I can’t say that I can blame the other tourists though, I too joined in on the fun before we left. After an hour exploring the Louvre, it was time to make our last stop or discovery if you will.
Macaroons are a must when coming to France, especially Paris. We honestly stumbled upon a macaroon place while in search for a Long Champ store. Even though it turned out to be one of the most touristy places to get this beautiful dessert, the macaroons were fantastic! We each tried three different kinds and not one bad review was given. The macaroon place is called Laduree, and can be found almost anywhere. I recommend getting the Pistachio and Vanilla flavors, which is a huge compliment coming from a predominantly all chocolate everything eater.
Since our time in Paris was extremely limited, we spent the majority of the day rushing around extremely anxious hoping we wouldn’t miss our train. And what did we do? Miss our train. Unfortunately for us, we were exactly 1 minute too late getting to the platform. I can’t blame this solely on us however. Metro strikes in Paris are pretty common so APPARENTLY the metros just stop and go whenever they please. Our metro decided it was just going to stop halfway to the train station for about 30 minutes which put us way behind schedule. We couldn’t get an Uber and once we finally found a Taxi there was so much traffic, we just knew we weren’t going to make it. Fortunately for us, we do have Eurail passes so we booked the earliest train out the next morning and were only charged a reservation fee of $9 per person.
We stayed at the closest hostel we could find, ate sushi until we passed out and headed to our train bright and extremely early so we didn’t miss it a second time.
After 5 and a half hours we finally made it to Nice. I was way more excited for the French Riviera than Paris. I’ve always been a lover of the Mediterranean and since I have been all throughout the Amalfi Coast and the Greek Isles, the French Riveria was the next must see coastal destination on my list.
The train ride through Cannes and Antibes was like something out of a fairytale. Nice was no disappointment either. We booked an Airbnb in the local residential area of the town for a week. We had plans of visiting each different town along the Riviera during our week-long stay, but that dream shortly came to a halt the moment we stepped inside our second floor apartment. Something came over all of our bodies where our naps turned into all day sleeps and not leaving the apartment other than trips to the supermarket.
The first two days were spent cooped up in our apartment and honestly I have no regrets. We all desperately needed a break. This was the first time we actually had downtime since the beginning of the trip and the first time we realized just how exhausted we really were.
We finally made it out of the apartment on day three and of course had to spend the day at the beach. The water was a little bit too cold for swimming but wasn’t a bad day to get some Vitamin-D. After the beach, we strolled through the city center and down the Promenade.
We visited Place Massena, Place Garibaldi, La Colline de Chateau and Old Town. One of my sisters friends, Tim, used to live in Nice so he gave us the heads up about all these awesome spots in Nice! Place Massena is the main square and leads into this beautiful, vibrant park. Place Garibaldi is one of the oldest and largest squares in Nice. La Colline de Chateau was my favorite spot! It has 360 panoramic views of Nice and is absolutely incredible. The Promenade can’t be missed when visiting Nice, literally. The beautiful walkway runs all along the beach and is full of palm trees, bars and little shops.
The Promenade has a much bigger impact now than in other years due to the recent terrorist attack. There is a memorial for the victims along the Promenade and it is absolutely beautiful. There is so much love captured into a little pavilion. The inside of the pavilion is full of stuffed animals, flowers and candles while the outside is painted with love letters, pictures and flags remembering the victims. It was extremely touching reading the notes and letters of those who have lost their family members and friends. I love seeing how communities come together during times of need like this, it really makes me proud to see the love that people have for one another after such a horrible tragedy. Love will always outweigh hate and Nice is a perfect example of that.
The next day we decided to visit Monte Carlo and live like millionaires for a day.
Monte Carlo was everything I expected it to be and so much more. You walk out of the train station to see the port filled with yachts. These yachts are full of attendants making sure that only those authorized to be on board are on board. I have always had a huge obsession with the lifestyles of the rich and the famous so it was really cool for me to stroll through the port and imagine myself owning one of these fascinating yachts.
After walking through the port, we decided to check out the Japanese Gardens that oversee all of Monte Carlo. Unfortunately, the entrance fee was a little too expensive for us so we opted out of going inside. We did find a little look out spot in front of the entrance that was just as good though! It’s right next to the ticket office on the left side and has an amazing view of the port.
The last stop we HAD to make in Monte Carlo was a trip to the casino, of course. Who comes to Monte Carlo and doesn’t gamble?
We are all very broke. The moment we saw the Monte Carlo Casino there was a mad dash to the beautiful front doors. We quickly realized that we indeed do not belong there, unless we somehow in the future inherit a billion dollars. The parking lot in front of the casino was full of Ferrari’s, Rolls Royce, Bentley’s and pretty much any luxury car you could ever imagine. The people walking in and out of the casino were dressed to the nines and here we were in jeans and Old Navy sweaters. The opening bet on the tables in the Monte Carlo Casino is 100 euro. Extremely out of our price limit, so we ventured next door where the opening bid is a little more reasonable at 10 euro.
I have had my fair share of times on the Roulette table where I know that once I start winning, leaving the table is not an option. Atlantic City was a great reminder of that. This time around I decided I was only going to bring 10 euro and the moment I starting winning I would cash out. Well that didn’t happen. I didn’t leave the casino a loser, but I also didn’t cash out when I was up by 13 euro. Thank you Monte Carlo for fueling my slight gambling addiction. I can’t wait to come back one day when I actually have the means to try your Roulette tables out again.
Our last day and a half in the French Riviera went kinda how our stay began. We did a whole lot of relaxing and really nothing else. Bianca’s uncle decided to spoil us for one night during our trip. He booked a hotel night stay for all four of us in Nice at the Hyatt Regency right on the Mediterranean. The hotel was AMAZING. We had two massive beds, a sauna, steam room, swimming pool and robes/slippers galore. It was so nice to finally be able to relax in a hotel. Staying in hostels and Airbnbs for a month and a half straight gets old, real quick. Everything was clean, we had our own space and we got to pamper ourselves, a lot. God bless Bianca’s uncle and his kindness, he has no idea how wonderful that night was for us.
I know it seems as though our trip to France was wasted, but without it I don’t think any of us would be functioning human beings for the rest of our trip. Traveling seems all glamorous from the outside, but it really is hard. Staying in close quarters with strangers every night is not easy. Trying to stay healthy is extremely difficult and running around all day everyday doesn’t help much. Paris and the French Riviera were beautiful. I feel as though I am not at a point in my life where I can fully appreciate the beauty of both. They both have a higher class appreciation to them and for a backpacker traveling through Europe, I don’t necessarily fit that persona.
I see myself returning to France when I am much older; when I have money to spend and am able to appreciate the finer things that France has to offer. At this point in my life I believe France is above me and I’m not ashamed to admit that. When I hit the 50-55 age mark a trip to France will be much more appropriate.
Next we head to one of the most culture filled, vibrant cities in all of Europe, Spain!
Au revoir France, until next time.