My first week in Nice went surprisingly smooth. Lots of pleasant surprises, like how healthily my host mother cooks and how challenging my classes are and how easily accessible everything is in Nice. Not to mention how friendly everyone is, despite the cold, standoffish stereotype of the French. I went on a scheduled excursion to Monaco yesterday (Thursday) but we have the weekends free, so I wanted to travel somewhere outside of Nice, which I can explore during the school week. I asked around at France Langue, my school, to see where the other students recommended visiting and the answers all pointed to one place: Eze Village. So after class this afternoon, I talked my roommate and two other girls from USF into heading into the surrounding mountains to find out what was so special about Eze.
First of all, thank goodness I took the others with me because it took all four of us to figure out how to use the bus system to get to the village. As an unforeseen bonus, there was a football game in Nice today, part of the EuroCup, so all public transportation within the Nice region was free. However, had I needed to, I would have paid a substantial amount to see the views that we saw while on the bus ride to Eze. Gorgeous mountainsides and cliffs, quaint little villages and villas, and best of all, stunning glimpses of the Mediterranean coast, all for free.
Eze ended up being a tiny medieval village, perched high in the mountains, made entirely from stone. When the four of us arrived, we happened to wander in to a woodcarver’s shop right near the entrance. You would think it would have been just another tourist trap, but we ended up having a lengthy conversation with the owner in French. It turns out that he has lived there all his life, and his family used to own nearly half of Eze, as they were one of the original families living there. It was a fascinating tale, and he ended up giving us a lunch recommendation, which ended up being extremely tasty, authentic French food.
The village was filled with art galleries and artisan shops. You could easily spend a day or just admiring all the artwork on display inside the buildings. However, one of the biggest draws to Eze is the view. The view of the glittering, blue Mediterranean from a high mountain village. In other words, breathtaking.
Getting home proved to be the most challenging part of the journey yet possibly the most amusing just by how we handled the challenge. We all had to get home for dinner with our host families by 7:30 p.m. The bus we needed to take back to Nice was an hour late. We were actually in the process of trying to hitch a ride with a car owner when the bus finally came. Due to the football game, the traffic became a gridlock when we arrived back in Nice, so the four of us hopped out of the bus as soon as we figured out where we were and half-ran the mile or so back to our host homes, laughing all the way. A very worthy way to spend a Friday afternoon.