Two weeks ago, Liebling and I spent three days in Nice, the pearl of the French Riviera, and I realized that there’s something about Nice that keeps me coming back. I often think it’s the memories: long-time readers know I spent a whole year living there, basking in the warm glow of the French Riviera sun and letting the spray from waves of the Mediterranean refresh my face as I strolled along its shores.
Nice was a important time for me, a time of discovery, a time when adventure knew no bounds. I lived freely, happily, gaily, I fell hopelessly in love with the food, the language, and with a Frenchman. But, most importantly, I fell even more in love with myself, with my life, and with the way I was shaping my destiny.
Nice gave me a taste of the world and a better understanding of who I was and who I wanted to become. While my first year abroad (studying French literature at a university in the north of France) was the year of training wheels, of uncertainty, of cultural and linguistic stumbles and homesickness, of baby steps and mini failures, my second year abroad was all cool confidence, assuredness, and composure. Success. Then realization. Because in Nice I came to realize that this life of foreign language, alien culture, passports, paperwork, and permits was truly for me.
I learned about joie de vivre in Nice. Simple occurrences were precious jewels. Fresh baked French bread, stifling days turned breezy nights, sitting cross-legged and stiff-bummed on the rocky beach with guitar-strumming randoms as they passed a cheap bottle of wine around… these things still make me smile. The sing song of the vendor’s “Mademoiselle” as I perused the flower market along the Cours Saleya, pot-luck dinners with a pot-pourri of friends, the long walks home through the twists and turns of the streets in the old town (that only a foreigner-turned-local would know how to navigate)… these remembrances make me sigh.
And, of course, that view:
Awe-inspiring, all-consuming, absolutely astounding… Is it any surprise that Nice tugs at my heart strings?
Has a city or country ever evoked these sorts of feelings in you?