Ah, la France
In my previous post, I discussed my difficult adventures in Italy and how I was looking forward to a better experience in France. It turns out that I was correct in assuming that speaking the language of the country you are visiting makes your visit much easier. This should not have surprised me. There were several occasions where I needed to communicate with someone who did not speak English, and my limited knowledge of French saved me. Also, unlike the places I visited in Italy, the places I visited in France did not have many signs in English. Almost every sign outside of the airport and train stations was only in French. This posed a problem for my friend Robbie, who had to meet up with me at one point. But I thoroughly enjoyed the practice and convinced myself that it was a way of studying for my French exam back at Edinburgh. I visited three places, all in the south of France: Nice, Cannes, and Fréjus. I stayed in a part of Nice that was not so pleasant (it took a strong effort to avoid a “Nice/nice” pun there). I booked a cheap hostel and ended up in a tiny room with seven other people, in triple bunk-beds. The owner was nice, however, and we spoke in Franglais for awhile before he suddenly exclaimed “Vous parlez français!?” I got this excited reaction from a couple of other people in France. I know my American accent must sound terrible, but the people I encountered were nonetheless impressed to encounter a tourist who spoke (some) French. It was a major boost to my ego after Italy. I must learn Italian eventually.
My next stop in France was Cannes, the home of the Festival de Cannes, the most prestigious film festival in the world. As a filmmaker, this was a very exciting place to see, and I got to view the Palace of Festivals up close. Around it, they have a walk of fame with the hand-prints and signatures of various celebrities. I found the hand-print of Sylvester Stallone, but I was unable to read many of the other signatures. As I walked along the outside of the Palace looking for other legible signatures, I found myself standing on a red carpet in the midst of people dressed in suits and wearing name badges. In my shorts and a t-shirt, I didn’t fit in very well, and so I quickly left. I’m not sure why those people were there, but I know the film festival doesn’t occur until mid May. I then went to Fréjus, another city on the southern coast of France, where I met up with my friend. We spent a day reading on the beach and had delicious French cuisine, including such staples as “croque-monsieurs” (like grilled-cheese sandwiches with ham), crèpes, crème brûlée, and French fries that were actually French. After this, we flew to Barcelona, and I had another croque-monsieur on the plane. A change of plans led to us arriving in Barcelona one day later than originally planned, so I ended up staying there for only one night. I never got to see the city in the daylight, which is something that I greatly regret.
I returned to Edinburgh last Thursday and was both relieved to be free of travelling and disappointed that I had to wait five more weeks before returning to the States. I love Edinburgh and its general peacefulness, but it still isn’t home. The day after returning, I left again for a trip to the Isle of Skye with IFSA-Butler. The views up there were amazing, although I must say that my adventures have made me almost too accustomed to such views. It was great to see many of my fellow exchange students again, though. It was also great to learn from our tour guide what is possibly the best song ever recorded. It is about a man from Skye who always wears a kilt, and it’s called “Donald, Where’s Your Troosers?” I highly recommend that you look up this song. It is quite life-changing and will hopefully help me as I “do revisions” (study) for upcoming exams.