For my Christmas present to my Mum, I booked a holiday to Cannes in France. This was a big and an expensive present, but well needed. My mum has given me so much support particularly over the last 2 years and with moving to London ect. So, I thought I would do something nice for her this year.
We set off at 2AM to Gatwick to catch our flight to Nice, which was at 6AM, and everything went very smoothly. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was how bright everything was. It’s a beautiful part of France and everything is so clean.
The day we arrived, my mum and I went for a walk to find our bearings. Our hotel was a 5-minute walk away from the beach. Right on the front was the Building in which the world-famous Cannes film festival is held (which is held in May). It has a red carpet and a lot of keen tourists posing and taking photos on the carpet. (It was very amusing to see just how people really got into the posing for their iPhone cameras, all wearing holiday gear and not red carpet appropriate)
The promenade was a stunning walk, particularly the view of the mountains to the west, and to the east there was a big dock yard full of huge yachts. They cost millions each year to maintain and keep in the dock. That was really one of the main themes of the trip. It seemed like it was a bit of a rich man’s playground… which in a way was interesting to see how life could be with so much money… and also eye-opening as to how much I would hate to have a lifestyle like that as everything loses its worth. It was nice to observe how the riches of the world live, but I could not help thinking about the less fortunate of the world which was quite a saddening thought.
On the second day, we found a tour of the local area. It took us up and down the entire boulevard explaining the history behind the area. On the tour, we saw a very retro looking market, something you would never find in England. We made a note of where it was and returned after the tour. The Olives and humus like dip we found was to die for!
On a sadder note, and something that will stay with me for the rest of my life, a little girl approached us as we were walking tugging on my arm and pleading for money. It is heart-breaking seeing such a young girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old, begging like this. As nice as the Cannes is, it is horrible knowing how wealthy the area is and yet there are little girls like the one who approached me living a very inadequate life.
On the third day we took a day trip to Monaco, alongside stopping off at a few places along the way. The first of which was in the richer district just outside Nice. It was very interesting to learn about the development of the area. It is a relatively new fashion, developed only in the last century, to own a property with a view of the sea on the high ground of Nice. The view from the point we stopped off at was incredible and our tour guide pointed out in the distance we could see a property owned by Elton John.
The next stop was a perfume factory. France being famous for their perfumes, it was so interesting finding out the difference between all the types of perfume and what makes an expensive perfume ect. The process behind the perfumes being created was quite straight forwards. However, to become a perfume expert, it is no easy task. It is said that the experts that create Channel 5 and other expensive perfumes can identify up to 4000 smells. For this they must limit smoking, drinking and maintain a healthy diet. It was an interesting experience… and the gift shop very expensive!
We then stopped off at a place called Eze, which was a rather incredible little ‘inhabitant’. It is a steep hill (sometimes called an eagle’s nest) containing a small number of houses (and a hotel) which can only really be descried as a little village. However, it has been turned into more of a tourist attraction now. Locals converted rooms of their houses into shops for tourists selling various little homemade items. It also has a garden on top, even with a waterfall. The area around Eze was populated from roughly 2000BC, therefore there has been a lot of history behind the area. It is like a maze finding your way around the little streets making your way to the top of the nest.
We then finally arrived in Monaco. Despite there not being an awful lot to do other than gamble and count the endless amounts of Ferrari’s … the history is rather extraordinary. Monaco is a country in its own right with a monarchy, therefore learning about the creation of the independent state and the 700 year dynasty of the royal family was rather amazing.
On out penultimate day, we visited St Honorat Island (Île Saint-Honorat). This is an island off the coast of Cannes that is accessible by a 15-minute boat journey. Out of all the incredible views I saw over the 5 days, this island topped it all. It was a beautiful island, littered with wildlife and ruins, with a monastery that is still inhabited by monks today. Once again, the history behind the island was very interesting. It became a very popular destination for pilgrimages. It was said an angel directed people to take refuge on the island and they would be kept safe by god there.
On the final day, I may have got the timings wrong which means we spend a good 6 hours sitting in the airport… but maybe we won’t go into that!
Overall, it was a lovely and well needed holiday. It has been the first holiday both my mum and I have been on holiday in a long time. I would recommend going to the south of France. Personally, if I were to do the trip again, I would have stayed in Nice and maybe taken a day trip out to Cannes simply because there is more to do in Nice as it is a city. Transport links are better also, and therefore there are is more to do surrounding the Nice.
One last point I wish to make is regarding the French language. Almost every single French person spoke basic English. I found it incredible how it is built-in to almost every person to be bilingual to some degree. I found myself getting fairly embarrassed towards the end of the trip that I am not competent to strike up a basic conversation in any other language other than English. It has been massively eye-opening and really motivated me to start trying to learn basics of other languages.