A trip to the South

My dream has always been to visit the south of France, particularly the French Riviera.  In fact, when I was deciding where to pick for my SLA I was almost compelled to choose Avignon, a small city close to the Riviera.  Thus, when my father told me he would be coming over to France at the tail end of my time in Tours I knew that our shared dream of visiting the South would lead us there.  My father has a very interesting attitude about international travel.  Unlike me, who welcomes the unknown, he shys away from it and is unsettled by traveling to countries in which English is not the primary language.  Recognizing this about him, I knew he would be relying on me and my recent French language study to carry us through.

Welcoming the opportunity to practice my newly found love of speaking French outside of classroom walls, I was transported back to one of our class discussions at the Institute where we were discussing the importance of accents in France.  In the South, the language is spoken more slowly with each syllable being pronounced.  This is counter to the accent that is spoken more so in Paris and the surrounding regions where words are seemingly “cut off” and shortened.  For example, the word for Saturday is Samedi.  In Paris, it would be pronounced in two syllables like Sam-di yet in the South it would be pronounced in three syllables such as Sam-e-di.  When we watched a video in class the distinction is very difficult for non-French speakers to make because students of French, particularly Anglophone speakers are taught to pronounce each syllable in the word.  However, since my time in France I have begun to speak more as the Parisians do and shorten words or swallow some of the syllables.  Thus, I was concerned that my conversation attempts in the South would go less smoothly than they had been going in Tours.

The view from our hotel in Nice!!

However, I was quickly proved incorrect about my assumptions in my language abilities in another part of France.  Upon our arrival to our hotel my father began speaking very quickly in English to explain a desire to change the credit card he had put on file.  His quick speech confused the woman at the desk to which my father turned to me.  Hesitantly, I started speaking to her in French.  I was delighted when she was able to understand and respond to me perfectly.  Linguistically, the rest of the trip went smoothly.  The people were kind and inviting and the slower speech in the South was actually significantly easier to understand.


The view from the botanical gardens in Èze
Cobblestone streets in Èze

Aside from the continued practice of language away from Tours, the South of France is a lovely place.  We made our home base in Nice which appeared to me the largest of all the cities we visited.  There is a flowers market in Vieux Nice each morning which is incredibly charming.  While the French Riviera is a very touristic place, Nice seemed to me the most touristic of all the cities we saw whilst there.   We took daytrips to the cities of Èze village and Antibes both of which were much smaller and more quaint than Nice.  In Èze,  My father and I spent time strolling the narrow, cobblestone streets that lead you up to an exotic botanical garden that offers the most magnificent views of the Mediterranean.  Antibes offers a quite different experience as it is located right on the water.  Thus, we strolled the sun-soaked streets with purple flowers reaching up the walls until we found an exit that led you right to the ocean.

A treasure in Antibes where we had the most delicious and fresh lunch

The final daytrip we took was to the city of Cannes, which is highly celebrated for its famous film festival, offered a very different experience than the others.  The beach was the only sandy beach (the others had big rocks) and offered a slightly less touristic feel than Nice.  For the day my dad and I decided to go out on a boat (because what’s a trip to the Mediterranean if you don’t actually sail on the Mediterranean).  After a five hour boat ride and a long conversation with the boat captain, Pascal- who spoke no English but was an incredibly funny French comedian- we made our way back to Nice for our final night.  The South of France is nothing less than the dream it promised to be.  We spent our days sitting on the beach and exploring the small jewels the Riviera has to offer- if you ever get the chance, don’t pass up the opportunity to go!!

France, I love you