Nice, where the sun don't always shine.


There was a part of me, that assumed, that once I reached France, I'd just know what to do.  I've always thought of France as my spiritual home.  I don't know why exactly, it's just, whenever I'm there, no matter what part of the country I'm in, I always get that feeling, that I'm where I'm meant to be.

Now don't get me wrong, I've had my ups & downs with France.  For starters, after two years of French class, my ability to speak the language is still embarrassingly poor.  Then, of course, there is, I feel, this slight elitism about the French.  In Italy, if you try to speak Italian, even if you are piss poor at it, they love you for trying, they embrace you.  Yet, in France, if you try & speak French, predominantly speaking, they still seem to dislike you.

Of course, I don't want to tar an entire nation with the same brush.  I have met lots of French people who have been wonderful & whom I am still in contact with.  It can just be very frustrating & somewhat isolating, when you're in a country that you love, trying to incorporate yourself & you feel as though you're being rejected.

So there I was in Nice, waiting for the feeling, that feeling of direction to wash over me & it just wasn't there.  I started to feel more lost than ever.  Was I doing the right thing or had I just rushed leaving Italy.  I suddenly wasn't sure & my indecisiveness took hold & spun me into a black hole of self-doubt.  The kind that sends me off into self-destruct mode.

Making friends with a Chilean guy in my room, we caught the number 100 bus from Place Garibaldi & spent the day in Monaco.  For €1.50 & forty minutes, it seemed madness not to.  It was so warm & sunny, it felt like spring.  The pair of us walked around in nothing but our T-shirts.  It was bliss.  For a brief moment, I actually allowed myself to stop thinking about what to do next & actually just enjoy the moment.

The pair of us walked up to the Jardin Exotique & sat & ate lunch, overlooking the city, with the sea glistening, outstretched in front of us.  I felt happy.  If not just for a moment.  Chilean asked me what I was going to do next, where would I go after Nice.  I couldn't answer.  I hadn't thought further than getting there.

I wasn't worried about money.  I wasn't worried about having somewhere to stay.  I was worried about doing the right thing.  Like honestly, what had made me come traveling in the first place.  It's so easy to sit at home & think the grass is greener in the Mediterranean.  That life would simply make sense somewhere else.  Somewhere warm.  But what happens when you get there & realise, it's not about the place, the issue is you.

That evening, panicked by my own indecisiveness, I sent frantic messages to my friends, posted statuses of distress on my social networks & then, gave in to the hostel's Happy Hour & got drunk on €1 beers.  I could actually sense myself falling into a spiral of incomprehensible madness.  I actually couldn't think straight.  I'd forgotten why I was there.  Lost all that inner peace I'd found in the monastery.  I was a mess.

Hungover the next day, I packed up my things, checked out & wept into my complimentary breakfast in the hostel's bar.  An American guy I'd spoken to the night before, in my drunken depression fueled fog, came to join me.  He was about as clueless as I was.  There's something about New Yorkers though, they radiate this sense of overbearing wisdom.  Consistently psychoanalysing you & reducing you to tears.  Yes, I cried.

Strangely, despite myself, I found that, through my hatred of him, I somehow ended quite liking him.  It was a clear cut case of a love-hate relationship.  Leaving our things in the hostel, we took a stroll through the streets, along the beach & ending up at the castle, overlooking the sea.  There was a busker playing L'Autre Valse d'Amélie on the accordion, which practically gave me chills.  When he then started playing La Vie En Rose, I closed my eyes & I could almost believe I was in Paris.  It was a perfect moment in time.

Returning to our hostel, it was time to make a decision.  I could travel along the coast & work my way up to Paris, or I could head to my friend Kate's in Chabanais.  One was logical & the other was intuitive.  I chose the latter; head to Kate's.  Unfortunately, having been spoilt in Italy, with cheap & easy public transport, I was completely naive when it came to getting around France.  Looking into the train to Limoges, I was shocked when I saw it was going to cost over €150!

This revelation threw me into a panic.  Cue another meltdown.  Thankfully, Jean, one of the guys working at the hostel, who I'd made friends with, came to the rescue & pestered me into looking at BlaBlaCar, a car share website, a few people had mentioned to me.  I hadn't really liked the thought of it & so hadn't bothered to take a look, but ended up being so glad I did.

Essentially, people making long car journeys across country, sign up to the site & advertise seats in their car for a set fee.  All you have to do, is pick someone going your way & contact them to reserve a place.  I managed to find someone who was leaving Nice & driving directly to Limoges, for €50.  Saving me over €100 on train fare.  Only issue was he wasn't going until the following day.

Villa Saint Exupery was now fully booked, because of the impending carnival, so myself & New York, who'd decided to head up to Lyon on the train the next day, found another hostel round the corner & checked in for a night.  Perhaps some time with friends was what I needed, to shift me back into reality.

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