A month on a train in Europe… South of France

The most beautiful part of my month in Europe was probably the trip we took through the South of France.  The Italian Riviera is gorgeous with the Alps looming over the sea and palm trees everywhere.    The beauty continues into France.  Chris, Dawn, and I decided we wanted to hit Nice.  Chris and Dawn also wanted to go to Monaco and that provided a nice side trip from France’s lovely and nice city.

We got off the train and found a fleabag hotel.  It was very close to the train station and had shutters that closed.  We went into the dusty lobby and a very laid back lady showed us a large, dingy room with three beds.  We booked it because it had a bathroom and was dirt cheap.  It also had a TV.

I think by the time we got to Nice, I was really becoming a third wheel.  I remember wandering around Nice a lot by myself, heading down to the beach and checking out all the flamboyant people.  I also discovered a GREAT restaurant there.  They had a deal in which you could get a three course meal for 39 French francs.  I think at that time, the conversion rate was about three or four francs to a dollar, though I could be wrong.  Anyway, the restaurant had really good food and it was dirt cheap.  I remember later reading in a guide book about the place.  It was written up in a Let’s Go book for being exactly as awesome as it was for people who are traveling cheap.

I also remember walking around a market and purchasing a double cassette of The Police: Live! and a t-shirt for my niece, who was about four years old back then.  To this day, I can’t listen to that album, since replaced on CD, without being reminded of traveling through France.

Courtesy Wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nice-night-view-with-blurred-cars_1200x900.jpg)

We spent a night or two in Nice, then decided to get on the train and head for Spain.  It turned out that was September 5th, the day of Princess Diana’s funeral.  I tuned in to the radio and listened to her funeral, dubbed into French.  I could hear Charles Spencer’s eulogy under the French dubbing, as we sped west through the mesmerizing southern French countryside.  I wish we’d stopped somewhere along the way for a quick rest.  I’ve been trying to get back to southern France ever since that trip 15 years ago and haven’t quite made it yet.  Fortunately, my husband is now a confirmed Francophile.

If you ever have the opportunity to take the train from the Italian Riviera through, the French Riviera, to Barcelona, Spain, I highly recommend doing it.  Be sure to stop along the way, though, and soak up some rays at the beach, drink wine, and eat some wonderful French food…


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