Yesterday was a great day. We have a bunch of new women in class who all seem nice (and, strangely, all remarkably pretty). It’s funny how the vibe in the class changes with each new addition. I feel that we’ve entered a good phase with the latest batch so it’s a shame that I won’t get to know these new girls since tomorrow is my last day at Alliance Francaise. I can’t believe this is my last week! Le sigh.

I had planned to leave class early yesterday because Leon and I were going to do a little day trip to Antibes, which is about 20 minutes away by train. Our waitress the night before had suggested we go there when Leon asked where he could do some clothes shopping. She also recommended an amazing restaurant that she couldn’t rave about enough, which was “reasonably priced” at $60 per person for lunch. (To be fair, it is owned by some top chef, but still, I balked at this price when Leon clarified that it wasn’t for two people, just one.)

By the time class finished, Leon had decided that he was happy to stay in Nice and my wallet and I breathed a sigh of relief. Instead of forking over $60 each, we put together a picnic lunch and headed down to a park near the water. On our way, we bought some delicious cheeses, crudités and wine. I already had paté and cornichons (these delicious little pickles that I’ve grown addicted to) and Leon had two types of homemade sausage that he’d bought on an organic farm near Tombeboeuf. Picnicking in the warm sunshine on the French Riviera is pretty sweet and I was happy to be in the company of one of my closest friends, stumbling through my French and indulging in delicious foods. Life is pretty darn good.

Enjoying our picnic.

After the picnic, we went shopping for Leon and got him a new jacket and vest, which look great on him. Then we headed back home to check our emails to confirm our evening plans. While Leon was in Tombeboeuf, he met a couple who live in Nice, Florent and Florence (insert chuckling here). They arranged to have drinks when he returned here so that is what we did. Florent suggested we meet at the bar of the Ascot Hotel. It turned out it was a cool rooftop bar with a great panoramic view of the city and a DJ playing hipster lounge music. I really liked it. (It also afforded us a view of the billowing black smoke from a massive fire happening in the mountains behind Nice. Turns out it was a furniture warehouse. When I woke up this morning, my apartment smelled faintly of smoke. It was a pretty huge fire.)

Leon on the roof.

A view of Place Massena and Promenade du Paillon from above.

Florent and Florence were soooo nice! I really liked them. We had a couple of apperatifs each and the two of them and Leon babbled away in French while I sat mostly mute. It’s funny, I have several first- and second-generation Canadian friends and they would often say to me “I can understand [insert parents’/grandparents’ language here] but I can’t speak it.” I never really understood that. I always thought the two went hand in hand. If you know the words well enough to comprehend, you must know how to say them back to people, right? Well now I understand. I could follow about 80% of what was being said but my mind would seize up if I had to say anything back. It takes me a long time to search for the words and I just want to be able to speak normally, fluently and quickly… so I don’t speak at all. It is very frustrating – I feel like I’m going backward. Not exactly what you want when you’re about to re-immerse yourself in English-speaking culture. Oh well.

Florent suggested we go to dinner together and Leon and I gladly obliged. They took us to a restaurant called Les Epicuriens and it was FANTASTIC. It was another family-run restaurant in which the waiters were the sons (and were cute. Oh, those broad shoulders…. sigh.) The owner, was really kind and chatted with us about wine and seafood. Everyone’s meal was amazing and if I was staying here for another month, I’d definitely be taking people there. I recommend anyone who comes to Nice check this place out (the address is 6, place Wilson). The whole evening was lots of fun – delightful company, delicious food and once again that sense that I’m welcoming new people into my life while embracing the ones that are already there.

The waiter explains the various fish that are on the menu.

The four of us pose (photo courtesy of the lovely owner).

Our waiter presents our giant fruit bowl dessert.

Aaaaand, I don't know what exactly is happening here.

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