So it’s official, I’m a student again. Last week I started both my photography and French classes and, so far, I am really enjoying them both. My classes are my inspiration for this week’s post of Monet’s garden. Monet’s house is located in Giverny, France and the expansive garden was his inspiration for many of his famous paintings. Do you see why I chose this subject this week? Above are close up pictures of some beautiful flowers from the garden (Note: The first two photos are edited but third is untouched). They were absolutely spectacular in person and it was nearly impossible to select which to include in this post. Easily, I could make dozens of posts about this garden and the beauty that exists in it. It really is no wonder Monet called this his home.
For a more detailed account please see my previous post on Giverny, France.
Currently I am studying to become a Pilates teacher and I’ve been in class for the past two weeks. Therefore, I have decided to reminisce about my time at school in France. In my head I couldn’t justify a trip like mine without learning something in the process; for me, that meant studying French. I already had some background but wanted to learn how to converse more confidently. After much research, I decided on EF Language School which has campuses worldwide. Their Nice campus was a no brainer for me because of my love for the city and the beach. The last time I was in school was in 2009, so understandably I was nervous going back to a school in a foreign country. Luckily I made friends at the residency on the first day and we pulled together for the first little bit. During the summer months, EF uses the University of Nice’s dorms for it’s students. I never lived in dorms before and enjoyed having my own room for that time. My new friends were both at different levels of French understanding and so we were split up in class. The great thing is most people didn’t know anyone else either and we all warmed up to each other fairly easily. The actual classes were quite long days overall and we could only speak French. Some days it was too intense on my brain and other days it was manageable. I surprised myself with what I could remember from my schooling back in the day. Quickly, I started to think in French and I got fairly comfortable with speaking. Making friends with local shop owners helped too. The Nicoise people are so welcoming and upon learning I was in school, they would encourage me to speak to them. Nice feels like home to me now and I miss it a great deal. EF Language School was a wonderful learning experience and I met a lot of amazing people. I’ll be continuing my studies of French this fall at night school. Above I’ve included a neat shot of the Promenade des Anglais from the lookout at dusk. After the heat of the day has subsided, all the street performers come out to play and the energy becomes electric. The promenade is a buzz into the wee hours of the morning, as is most of the area around the old town. EF’s unofficial bar is called Sansas and it’s just off Place Massena, which is the stunningly beautiful main square. They host a variety of events for the students there, including quiz night and salsa dancing. Being immersed in a language from all directions made all the difference for me. My time in Nice and at EF was invaluable and a memory I will cherish always.
Fête Nationale as it is known in France is today July 14 and commemorates the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 and celebrates French unity among the people. Last year I was in Nice, France during the festivities and snapped this picture of Le Negresco hotel! Bon fête!
This first picture is the epitome of beach life. I love the contrast of the sea and sky against the soft white sand and the way the colourful umbrellas add that pop of colour. St. Tropez is more than just beaches though; it has the most adorable little town filled to the brim with every designer store your heart could desire. Made famous by Brigitte Bardot, St. Tropez is located on the French Riviera between Toulon and Nice. Without a car, getting to St. Tropez can be difficult. I opted for a day trip with my school, which included a boat tour, free time in the old town and a trip to the famous Nikki beach. Since I find cemeteries quite peaceful and beautiful, I made a beeline there first. Most of the other students headed to the top of the park, which has stunning views of the town. After that, I went in search of the elusive Tarte Tropezienne. Found at a restaurant/bakery by the same name; it is a custard filled sugar bread concoction, that is to die for! While waiting to board the bus to the beach, I took a walk around the port to digest and to take in the fancy yachts that line the docks. The beach is like a secret hideaway, located at the end of a long road. Sea front bars and lounge chairs line most of the beach but free space is available. Anchored boats line the horizon, floating in the shallow waters. Nice, France, where I was staying, has large rocks that make up its shores; the soft sand was a reprieve and I took every opportunity to wiggle my toes in it. We were only there about an hour and I enjoyed every second. You don’t need a lot of money to enjoy places like this, just know when to splurge and when to cut back. I will say though, I wouldn’t object to laying out on one of those yachts!
I am posting this one because as far as gorgeous scenery goes, it doesn’t get much better. It’s no wonder Freddie Mercury made Montreux his home. I also enjoyed the French speaking aspect as that’s the only language I can really get by with. I arrived about 7:00am the first day and had the privilege of walking the promenade without many other people around, and I was blown away. It was my first time seeing the alps, which are stunning and seem to surround you from every view. The colour of the water here though is unreal. A light turquoise/green colour that shimmers under the sun in a way you need to see in order to comprehend fully. It was recommended to be by my aunt and I squished it into an already tight schedule (as I also took a day trip 3 hours away the second day). I’m so glad I made room though; it is a picturesque place that no picture can really do justice. I highly recommend a boat tour, if you do make it here, to fully experience the stunning views. Definitely take more time then I did though, as Montreux has lots of things to see and do (including their famous jazz festival every year).