Nice, France. Where do I start? The first time I visited was as part of an excursion with the CEA French Riviera Program Director, Kristin. We walked around the old town and saw some good lookouts. I loved it, but at the time I attributed it to the fact that it was the first city I had ever seen in Europe. It took very little time for me to soon learn this felt like home.
I lived in Antibes, a short 30-minute train ride from Nice. So I decided, “I’m in the French Riviera; how can I travel and not enjoy the beautiful place I am in right now?” I went almost once every two weeks, but I also decided to spend a whole weekend there. It felt like the city was hugging me every time I went. I never used GPS, not once, and I just walked and enjoyed my surroundings and somehow always found my way around as if I had lived there my whole life. It was the perfect mix of new and old with incredible people and food. There were palm trees and a breeze that even in February, usually the coldest month, made you feel warm inside. Cote d'Azur was not even close to describing how blue and beautiful the water was. Going to the Promenade des Anglais and seeing kids play and families laughed was refreshing, since here in the U.S. we are always stuck to technology. There was a magical aspect about the Mediterranean, especially in Nice, that just took all your worries and turned them into hope.
I found that there was always something to do in Nice -- the Carnival, the museums, the markets, or even the random cool spots you would stumble upon and meet locals. There were also streets lined with stores and boutiques. I feel like Nice is one of those places that isn't talked about enough and deserves all the recognition in the world. The train can take you to places like Antibes, but also to places like Monaco. It’s the perfect backdrop for anything. No matter your interests, Nice will offer you something. If not, then the neighboring towns will.
The French Riviera has a way of pulling you in with its small towns full of cool quirks and big, luxurious cities. The perfect blend of Italian and French culture and cuisine shines through everything in the region and makes it feel like no other place you will ever visit. If you study abroad in the French Riviera, I urge you to spend more time there instead of trying to travel all of Europe. On the other hand, if you are studying elsewhere, I encourage you to take a weekend trip to Nice, France, a place a little off the beaten path that will guide you to a road that feels like home. Not to mention, some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.
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