The St-Laurent-du-Var students woke up early Saturday morning to make the 1.5-hour drive to San Remo, Italy along with those from the Nice program. The bus ride there was scenic and beautiful as we drove along the coast.
After arriving, we explored the market in the city and attempted to converse in a mix of English, French, Italian and sometimes the accidental bit of Spanish with the locals. For example, everyone at the table responded to the waiter in a different language when we ate lunch and he looked very confused. I would be too if I heard four students tell me “Merci”, “Thank you”, “Gracias” and “Grazie” all at the same time. However, despite our struggles with choosing a language, the food (gelato, pasta and pizza, of course) was absolutely amazing.
Shopping around in the market was a colorful and almost overwhelming experience. Before leaving we were warned that there would be lots of people selling fake designer bags and belts for ridiculously low prices, which was very true. It was kind of funny watching the men with ten or twelve fake Rolex watches wrapped around their arms walk around trying to fool the tourists. Sadly it seems many tourists are easily fooled.
The beach in San Remo was warm and rocky, and we somehow managed to find a spot that was neither private nor incredibly crowded. After eating lunch in the sun, a few friends and I embarked on a harrowing mission with life-or-death stakes: Finding a Public Bathroom in Europe With Thirty Minutes Left Before We Have To Leave.
We entered every café and moderately large store, asking in broken French if they had a public restroom and if not where we could find one. We followed the vague directions of three or four heavily-accented waitresses and shop employees from store to store, each time asking more and more desperately. Finally, we spotted a bathroom! Alas, using a restroom in a café sort of requires buying something from said café, so we waited in line for gelato and asked the server if we could use the bathroom.
After twenty minutes of searching, we were triumphant, and all six of the people in our little group used the tiny, swelteringly hot restroom one by one. It was an incredible feat.
That evening we ate dinner with our host families and went to the beach to listen to music and celebrate Bastille Day, or la Fête Nationale. We missed the fireworks but the music was great and the ocean was warm.
Sunday morning we took the train to Antibes to see the beach and the Picasso Museum. We began the day at the market in the center of the city and bought clothing and gifts. There was tons of stuff for sale, and I’m quite proud of myself for haggling in French to get a shirt for €15 instead of €20.
After seeing the market, a friend and I decided to explore the narrow streets and take gorgeous pictures of the flowers. As we were walking, we came upon a tiny, adorable dog sitting in front of a door on the street. We read the address listed on his tag but couldn’t figure out what road we were on, and while we were in the midst of attempting to utilise Google Maps a friendly Frenchman stopped to make sure we were okay. It turned out that the dog belonged to his neighbor and the man helped bring him back. All is now well in Antibes thanks to us and the nice French guy bringing back his groceries from the market.
After our act of heroism, the group went to the Picasso museum to admire the art and breathtaking views. We split into groups of four and chose one painting per group to tell everyone else about in French. By that point we were all starving and walked down to the beach to eat lunch, swim and sunbathe.
Sunday night most of the group met up again at the beach in Cagnes-sur-Mer to race on these odd seven-person bicycles. We went home exhausted but excited for classes and electives the next day!