La belle France

Trip Start Sep 07, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, November 4, 2005

5 days in France was a nice break! The hostel I stayed at was fantastic, it's actually rated one of the top 10 in the world. Very friendly and helpful staff, nice garden area, lounge, cheap drinks and a huge kitchen. It was great to be able to cook again!

The best part though was all the people I met. Besides my fellow Canadian who followed from Rome, I met 2 great Australian who I have made plans to meet up with again. Plus the hordes of people in the lounge every night as we played cards and silly drinking games. Aside from the usual mass Aussies contingent, there were tons of Canadians, which is the first time I've met a whole bunch. It was a nice trip down memory lane!

As for sightseeing, we went to Cannes, Antibes, Monaco and Monte Carlo, as well as exploring Nice itself. Monaco was definitely a playground for the rich, especially near the Casino. Ferrari's and Rolls Royce's everywhere! And the people are so glamorous, all of us backpackers in t-shirts, shorts and tevas definitely stood out. We walked up to the Palace on the hill, great view from up there of course. Cannes was nothing too exciting, aside from the film fest it didn't really stand out as being very exciting.

Antibes is gorgeous, quaint, and a lot smaller than Cannes or Nice. it is easy to walk around, has a wonderful old city area with a great market, and a medieval stone wall that runs along the water, providing a great sea wall to walk on. It also has a really cute semi-secluded sand beach, where people were still swimming even in November!

Nice also has an old city area, narrow alleys, stone walks, lined with shops and restaurants. We had a great lunch at a small patio right in the middle of the district, you felt like you were in another world not a few metres from the beach and the main strip of hotels. Alexa and I decided to walk from there to the old monastery and the Matisse museum on top of a hill that looked close enough on the map...hours later we arrived, to find the museum closed and no way to get home as the bus doesn't run on Sundays! We still had a great time, behind the monastery is an old cemetery where Matisse is buried, it is full of ornate tombs and crypts. It leads out to a beautifl garden, that overlooks some Roman ruins and a grove of olive trees. We had a nice wlak around, before calling our hostel to come rescue us (which they did!). It helped that one of the staff had a huge crush on Alexa!

All in all the French Riviera detour was wonderful, definitely worth the 9 hour train ride each way! I am looking forward to seeing more of the south of France in February...
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