|When the plane approached Nice, everyone in my class was looking out the windows where you could see we were right above the Mediterranean Sea and so close to the shore line. Nice was nothing like any of us had expected! Our teacher hadn’t given us any clues as to what it would be like, so we were all in for a pleasant surprise.
We landed and stepped off the plane. The first thing I noticed was the strong heat wave as we walked from the plane through the tunnel to the air port. We all started peeling off our jackets as we looked out the glass walls and saw nothing but palm trees, blue waters and beaches.
We took a really neat bus from the airport to our hotel. It was elevated quite high and it had tables inside so that we could all face one another. We stayed at Hotel Albert 1er. It was a real culture shock from anything I’d ever stayed in before, but well appreciated. Each room had a number of single twin beds rather than the queen beds you’d find in Canada or America. In the hotel there was also a breakfast room. Our class met there every morning and evening to discuss what kind of culture we had experienced that day and shared it with everyone else. That’s where we did all of our academics for the trip.
Nice was beautiful. Closer to the airport, the beaches are sandy and there were even people attempting to surf, but towards where we stayed the beaches were really rocky. That didn’t stop anyone from lying out in the sun though! Overall, I got a really good impression of this city. I felt like I was among locals, but in an active tourist destination at the same time. There were discotheques, casinos, shopping malls, many museums, a great harbour, great shops and more.
We were there at the end of January, so I didn’t spend much time at the beach, but I did do a lot of exploring. One culture shock I experienced was my first trip to Mc Donalds. There was a couple with their dog, a boy rollerblading with no shirt on, and a person ordering a meal with beer! None of these things would be permitted in a North American franchise, so it was funny to see all at once.
Nice is a small city, but definitely big enough to be a good host for the week we were there. My favourite parts were the flower/fruit market, the old buildings, the views, the small museums, meeting locals & going shopping at Nice’s original shops. While I was there, the city was actually setting up in preparation for Nice's own Mardi Gras called Carnaval held at the beginning of February. It was great, there were rides, and the town was lit up at night with lights and there were all kinds of painted displays hung above the streets.
One day our class took a hiking trip up to the Matisse Museum. It’s a considerably small museum, but the art work made it worth going. We also noticed that on Sundays, the French people made it a point to have picnics in the park with their families and pets. The Parks were all full of people enjoying the weather.
Some other things I was exposed to the first time in Nice were the small size of European cars, their 10 digit phone numbers, public washroom stalls that you have to pay for, and just the overall wealth of the south of France in general. It’s a beautiful place.
I loved Nice so much that I went back 4 years later to do it all again. I would recommend this destination to anyone!