I exhausted myself with all the traveling and walking I did this week! On Wednesday, since I don’t have class, I spent the day in Nice. I visited the MAMAC, the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporaine, to escape the rain. Reading descriptions of the artwork in French was good practice for me. There was an entire section of the museum devoted to an artist I’d never heard of before: Niki de Sainte Phalle.
I thought this piece was ironic, because all the artwork by the artist had words or phrases written on them, but “Je n’ai rien a dire” means I have nothing to say.
A piece by Niki de Saint Phalle depicting the tree of life.
By the time the train got me back to Antibes, I had to rush to my study abroad program’s office to get to wine and cheese night! We learned how to properly observe, smell and taste wine. Though some people struggled with the tasting part…you’re supposed to inhale some oxygen with the wine in your mouth to get the full flavor of the wine, but opening the mouth when it’s filled with wine was a challenge for certain people. Out of the rose, two reds, and white wine we tried, my favorite was the white. It was a sweet dessert wine that tasted faintly of honey. Out of all the new cheeses I tried, my favorite was the Cousteron. I’m proud to say that I’m already becoming much more tolerant of cheese, so I want to try to more kinds! France has nearly one cheese for every day of the year, so I won’t be able to try them all, though.
We tried 4 wines and 8 cheeses (Chèvre, Roquefort, Emmental, Compte, Cousteron, Brie, and 2 others I’m forgetting…).
Saturday my study abroad group took us on an excursion to San Remo, Dolce Aqua (both in Italy), and Menton (France). We shopped at an outdoor market in San Remo and then ate lunch at a small family-owned restaurant a short walk away. The restaurant made their own pasta, and it was by far the best pasta I have ever (and probably will ever) eat. We were all able to try five different kinds: a spinach noodle pasta in a cream sauce with mushrooms, a beef ravioli, a cheese ravioli served in a sauce with small pieces of ham, giant ravioli with cheese and spinach, and a four cheese gnocchi that melted in your mouth. For dessert I tried panna cotta, which I’d never had before. It was like creamy jello – delicious!
Panna cotta with raspberry sauce.
Next we visited Dolce Aqua, a super small but beautiful town.
View driving up to Dolce Aqua.
Then we returned to France to visit Menton. Menton hosts a citrus festival each year that I’ll be going to in a couple weeks. Our tour guide walked us to the basilica and then let us wander on our own for a while. I loved how colorful it is there, with the combination of the bright shutters and more neutral colored walls on the buildings.
The basilica in Menton.
Sunday I drove through the Louberon and Aix-en-Provence with a few friends. I still can’t get over how beautiful the landscape is there. I’ve read books that have described it, but I didn’t think I’d be able to see it in person because the trains and buses don’t go there. I’ve found a friend with a car, though, so I was able to go where the people I’ve read about go in their books! Although it was pretty chilly all day, I couldn’t have been happier. We visited Buoux, Bonnieux (where I bought some delicious raspberry and rose jam!), Menerbes, and Aix. Oh, and we also visited a winery!
Since it was a Sunday at 2 in the afternoon, most places were closed (either for lunch or for the entire day). However, one of my friends was determined to buy wine from a “cave” and found a man who was nice enough to open his up for us.
View from a hill at the top of a tiny, sleepy town called Buoux.
View of Menerbes (it was really nice to see blue sky after all the rain we’ve had in Antibes).
I could not agree more with this statement displayed in Menerbes (“La vie est belle” translates to Life is beautiful).
Our newfound friend, Joe, who walked with us for a bit in Menerbes (there are dogs EVERYWHERE in France! In all shapes and sizes! Unfortunately the French don’t care to pick up after their dogs, so you have to keep an eye on the sidewalk when you’re walking).
I think I’ll slow down a bit this week and hang out in Antibes so I can finish some internship applications, and because I should study for my first midterm on Thursday. But this weekend I’m going back to Italy! To Florence this time.