Bonjour from Nice! We arrived in France yesterday night, and though I was sad to leave Italy, there’s a bit of familiarity to France for me. I realized just a few days ago that being in Italy was my first time alone in a country where I don’t speak the language, and I managed just fine. I’ve found that just being in France has triggered the four years of French I took, and a lot of it is coming back to me.

Before arriving in France, we sailed along the coast of Italy to see the Cinque Terras. The Cinque Terras are five cities nestled in mountains along the sea. They’re all port towns, of course, and the buildings are all bright colors. Apparently the buildings were painted with paint left over from painting their ships. I absolutely adored the towns, as well as Porte Venere, the small port city right before the Cinque Terras.

Florence was beautiful, of course, and like I’ve said about everywhere I’ve been so far, I could’ve stayed there much longer. I managed to get a chance to go into the Uffizi after about an hour’s wait, and spent around the same amount of time inside. Standing in front of paintings like “The Birth Of Venus” and “Venus of Urbino” is really quite humbling. Then again, so is just about everything these people accomplished — Michaelangelo scuplted David when he was 23, and the man who built the Duomo in Florence started working on that when he was 25. And to think I felt like an over-achiever…

Speaking of art, this morning I went to the Museum of Modern Art here in Nice, and saw a lot of really wonderful things. Some of it was the kind of modern art that I have some arguments about (i.e. painting a canvas a single color), but there were also pieces by Rauschenberg, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, and some really fascinating pieces from an artist named Ben who I’d like to find out more about. All of the guards in the museum were asking me questions about what I thought about the art. One of them could tell that I’m American just by the accent of my “Bonjour.” My French teacher always said I had a very good accent, but I guess it’s still pretty transparent!
The other people on the tour group are good people. There’s been a lot of really interesting conversation going around. Sometimes it takes being in a large group of strangers to realize how different, yet similar all of us truly are. It’s nice to be able to have the option to do things with other people or to wander off on my own.
This morning reminded me of the many reasons why I love France — I wish we had more time here. I had breakfast at a cafe right next to the water, and wandered into a Patisserie for some Brioche. Tomorrow it’s off to Fragonard perfumery and Avignon. I wish we had a bit more time in France, but I’ve wished that about everywhere we’ve been.

Now it’s off to enjoy Nice’s shopping and beaches. A bientot!