Fresh from the French Riviera
September 26, 2012
By: Emma Hawcroft
YOLO. You Only Live Once.
With this new, inspirational Carpe Diem acronym taking the teenage world by storm, I knew it was time to follow the craze and do something different. With university kindly giving me fifteen weeks of summer holidays, there was no excuse. Next thing I knew I was on a plane bound for Nice, to live there for ten weeks.
I found baguettes in toilet bins and strewn on street floors, saw many a Yorkshire terrier strutting down the Promenade, had firemen break into our apartment to plug a leak, ate cheese by the kilo, extinguished our exploding antique French toaster and shared my room with a stubborn family of mosquitoes; but strangely enough, did not once see a beret.
I am now back in England, and yes it is raining, after nearly two and a half months of sun on the Cote d’Azur. I hitch-hiked from Durham to Paris in 28 hours several months ago and it was great to return to France and continue to practise the language.
Monday to Friday, 9-5, I was a journalist for two English newspapers, The Riviera Times and The Monaco Times. These are monthly journals written for the English speaking people who live and visit the region; the papers are based in Nice and the opportunity to intern at them was one that could not be missed.
As an intern, I thought I might have been in charge of photocopying and making cups of coffee: I couldn’t have been more wrong! I soon realised my role was an important cog in the production of the newspaper. My Australian editor could not speak French, so it was me who was her translator. Every day I wrote news stories for the website, feature articles for the paper,attended press conferences and helped put three newspapers to print. Working there was without a doubt one of the best ways to discover more about the area, and each night I would return home to my apartment bursting with news that I insisted on sharing.
With housemates coming and going, a landlord who did the French stereotype no justice and life size Harry Potter and Voldemort cut outs in the hall way, my apartment was very much like Big Brother, and life was never boring. Our flat felt like a hotel, with people non-stop visiting. Although, when our landlord sees this month’s water bill, I think there’ll be tears!
Despite meeting an incredible number of Germans, Italians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Australians, Poles, Portugese, Irish, Americans, Swedes, Swiss, Canadians and even someone from Guadeloupe, I did eventually find some French people. One boy in particular – who would proudly wear ripped jeans, a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘The Who’ and adored Mr Bean – believed he was the epitome of English fashion. He wasn’t the only one who thought this, yet my English friends and I were not convinced by his 1960s rock ‘n’ roll style!
In the same office as I worked in, there was the German newspaper Riviera Cote d’Azur Zeitung. Here, I befriended the most stereotypical German. With a thick accent, bright blonde hair and a passion for the colour green, Michael was a fellow intern and was more than happy to be our tour guide, helping us find the most beautiful beaches and sample some delicious French cuisine.
Cannes, Monte Carlo, Menton, Eze, Antibes and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat are just a few of the places I visited during my stay. I shared the French Riviera with the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kate Moss! When the news was not peppered with up and coming French strikes and movements in the world of wine, celebrities reclining on their luxurious super yachts would hog the headlines. David Walliams was papped revealing his naked derrière at Simon Cowell, who helped rescue nine passengers from a 35 ft sinking yacht a matter of weeks later, and Bernadette Chirac, the past President’s wife, was pictured waiting on the street for Elton John to finish his private shopping so that she could go in after him.
FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out.
Not wanting to be away from the land of snails and cheese for too long, I will be back in France for my year abroad in ten month’s time, but next stop, back to university for year two.
Images: Author’s Own