Waves crash softly against the rocky Mediterranean shore. Small clusters of people sit in front of a patisserie, enjoying their freshly baked treats. Children laugh and weave through crowds on their scooters. A woman enjoys her gelato while walking down the narrow streets of Vielle Ville. The tram slides smoothly on the tracks. Tourists stop to snap pictures of the old Italian architecture. In Nice, France these things are a regular occurrence. The small French town is incredibly diverse and full of exciting things to do.
On March 5, a group of 26 Marian girls and three chaperones made a trip across the Atlantic Ocean to Nice [nis], France. Nice is located in the French Riviera, nestled between Cannes and Monte Carlo and just a few miles from the Italian border. The girls stayed with host families spread all over the small coastal town. In the morning they would take classes at the French Language Center, and their afternoons were spent exploring places like the Fragonard Perfumery and the Aix-en-Provence, a small university town about three hours from Nice.
The girls bonded as they continued to explore the small town. However, there was one small issue: the language barrier. “So at first it was difficult to communicate with our host because she didn’t know any English. I found our French classes each morning to be super helpful because we learned conversation skills, how to ask for directions, and how to ask about places to sightsee,” senior Anna Domet said.
“I never felt like I couldn’t communicate something that I had to say because of the language barrier. Most people were helpful and could tell what we were saying. It was an awesome experience to get to use our French skills with native French-speaking people, and I think everyone improved her speaking skills a lot from this trip,” Domet said
Every day the group visited a different place along with its tour guide Noël. The first day, the girls took a walking tour of Nice and visited many historical spots hidden between shops and restaurants. On the second day, they took a train to Cannes, home of one of the most famous film festivals in the world, and Wednesday, a visit to the Fragonard Perfumery and the medieval town of Eze.
Thursday included a visit to Monte Carlo, home of the Grimaldi family and the royal palace. Finally, on Friday, students visited Aix-en-Provence, home of renowned painter Paul Cézanne. Between classes and visits, the girls made sure to squeeze in time for relaxing and of course—shopping.
French students and their chaperones made memories on the trip, ranging from funny to nail biting. While in the lavish principality of Monte Carlo, Marian girls shed their shoes and walked around barefoot. “Basically I had really bad blisters already from the day before, and then I bought new shoes, then wore them that day without socks. I added onto my already painful blisters, and then I was in so much pain I ended up taking off my shoes walking barefoot throughout Monaco. The next day I did wear Birkenstocks and my heels are still healing to this day,” junior Sarah Englert said.
French teacher Madame Janet Tuttle excitedly experienced a new part of France with her students. Previous trips were made only to Paris. “I thought this was one of our best trips!” Tuttle said. “I had been thinking about making the change for a while. We had a larger group this time, and I didn’t feel it would be fair to ask for Servite school to host families for that many people. With going to Nice, we could have as many people go who wanted, because it’s easier to get around, and with paid host families versus volunteer, it was okay to have so many people.” The cost of the trip was approximately $3,000. It included travel fees, a week of language lessons, bus and train costs, any entrance fees to tourist attractions, room and board, and any other small costs.
“Something that I will always remember from the trip is the journey. I really want to travel after college, because there’s so much to see. I want to experience others’ cultures. The freedom of the trip made me excited for college and ready to break out of the nest,” junior Rachel Weremy said. To the girls, the experience was unforgettable. It’s not every day that one gets to truly immerse themselves in a completely different culture.
photos by Susana Pettis