Saturday, 9 June 2012

The French Riviera

Bonjour Everyone,
Tara, Tamara, Rachael,Me,Sharni and Jess on the pebbled beaches of 'Nice' in the French Riviera
 Welcome to my blog about the stunningly beautiful and breathtaking French Riviera! France's Cote d'Azur (The Azure Coast) does "Lives of the Rich and the Famous" like few other places in the world. With it's spectacular sapphire-blue Mediterranean waters, dramatic coastlines, sloping pebble beaches and a climate to die for it's no wonder it is one of the must see tourist destinations in Europe.

After a long and beautiful drive on the Contiki coach we travelled via Provence to Arles en route to the glamorous French Riviera. We got to stop at the historic city of Arles and take a scenic drive along the  Cote d'Azur. I remember driving along the amazing coastline in the South of France and thinking I could definitely live here!
Driving along admiring the views on the bus of The Azure Coast
 That night when we arrived in yet another fun Contiki stopover in Biot called 'Hotellerie De Plein Air' where we got to stay in cool little beach like cabins. There were rooms of four but they were separated by a bathroom. Rachael and I stayed on one side of the cabin and Tamara and Tara stayed on the other. Sharni and Jess were right next door too which was fun!We headed straight to the dining area which reminded me of a circus tent and sat down to eat. In France we ate lots of bread and bread sticks before meals. Our group had no shame in eating everything on the table and also from others that were unoccupied oppps sorry guys...We were hungry all the time! We got a talk from the Contiki cook and he told us what food we would be eating that night. He also gave a talk about 'Frogs legs' and before we were able to eat them he told us how they are cooked and eaten in France. 

Eating Frogs Legs:
Frogs Legs (Cuisse de grenouilles) are one of the delicacies in French cooking and they tasted like a mild version of chicken or fish. Ours were covered in parsley, garlic and butter and didn't look at that appetising considering they literally looked exactly like frogs legs!Gross lol The ones we had at the Contiki camp site were quite tough and chewy but I'm sure that if they were served in a beautiful French restaurant they would have been much more tender.  

Robbed in Barcelona:
After dinner Jess, Rach and I tried to help out Hamed who had got his card scammed at the bar in Barcelona the night before. He had bought drinks at on one of his travel cards and after thinking something was dodgy and they had taken his card where he couldn't see it behind the bar, he checked his account and $800 had been stolen!! He then went to leave the club and go home and was chased by Spanish guys trying to get more money from him....He went to make a police report that night/the next morning and the police couldn't understand a word of what he was saying then he had to catch a taxi back to the motel (still dressed in the clothes from the night before) to catch the Contiki bus to the French Riviera. He made it back just in time after waiting at the police station for hours. All of his cards were cancelled to prevent anymore theft and he couldn't contact any banks about it because of the time difference in Australia. His mobile phone wasn't working and he was pretty down from the night before which was unlike the crazy Hummadini we all knew....

Drinks at the Contiki Village:
That night we were a little way out of the area of Nice and it was a peaceful area to have some drinks with the Contiki group. There was a small bar area with music playing and an outdoor seated area where we could drink. Me and the girls started drinking and having fun outside in the cool French air until Steven came and asked us if we wanted to play drinking games with him and the boys inside. We were all for it and things started to liven up. Steven is one of the nicest, funnest and most genuine guys I've ever met!This guy drank every night of our Contiki trip (25 days straight) and was one of the true drinkers of the group, having a beer at almost every famous site in the day time!ha He has a fun side but also showed lots of respect to all of us girls and I'm so glad I had the pleasure of meeting him on the trip. He was always the first one to laugh at me when I'd say something totally blonde just like my dad teases me back home lol I did actually say something along the lines of 'Mexicans speak Mexican not Spanish' and he never let me live this down the whole trip. He along with the other boys (Sam, Suneil, Alex, Ken etc) laughed at us as he tried to show two of the most blonde people you will ever meet (Jess and I) how to play card games that night. We were struggling to understand some of the rules but that was half the fun of it and we had a great night of laughs and many beverages...

French Perfumery:
The next day we woke up and headed to a French perfumery on the way into Nice. Fragonard was a very famous French perfumery in the South of France known for it's perfumes made from beautiful flowers which are imported to huge company's all over the world. Even some of the major company's like Dior an Chanel etc import perfumes from here adding their own bottles and marketing campaigns to the 'Fragonard' perfumes. The lady that guided us around the perfumery was a petite beautiful little French women who had a lovely accent. We learned the following differences between Eau de toilette and the real perfume:

Perfume, also called extract or extrait perfume, can include 15-40% perfume concentrates. This is the purest form of scented product and is the most expensive as a result.

Eau de toilette has around 1-6% perfume concentrates. This makes for a light scent that doesn't linger as long as the more intense versions. It was originally intended to be a refreshing body splash to help people wake up in the morning.

The lady also talked about and showed us how the perfume process works and I was amazed at how many flowers/petals are needed to create one small bottle of perfume! Flowers from all over the world are imported here to make perfumes and the scent they export from Australia is the Eucalyptus flower.She also told us that to work in this perfumery you had to be a non smoker and drinker and not eat spicy foods as it could effect your senses whilst testing the perfumes in the factory! She told us that instead of sniffing coffee beans in between trying to distinguish between different scented perfumes you can sniff your skin. The lady said that because you are so used to the smell of your own skin (arm) this helps you with loosing the scent of the last perfume you smelt. A good little tip and it works! You guys should try it the next time you are in Myer or a perfume shop lol

I learnt so many things there and was quite surprised with how interested I was in the perfume process and production. I wanted to buy so many perfumes as they had great deals and many of us got bottles in groups to save dollars which was fantastic!I decided against buying any for myself as I wanted to buy a bottle for my beautiful mother for Mothers Day which was coming up very soon. I tested about 8 different scents and as soon as I smelt the 'Beauty of the night' perfume I knew that was the one for mum! The REAL French perfume came in a special aluminium bottle which makes it last between 6-8 years. I loved the smell and I told mum that she can think of me every time she puts it on. Hope your enjoying it mumma! Love you x
Taylor outside the French Perfumery

Beautiful French Perfumery guide
Me with Mum's Mothers Day present
From the perfumery we moved onto Nice (pronunced nees) which is the capital of the French Riviera. Nice is famous for its pebbly beaches and bustling waterfront walkway, the Promenade des Anglais. After getting into Nice we sat along at a beautiful oceanfront restaurant with the girls where we had delicious salads, as the weather was quite hot. Soon after lunch we started to explore Nice and it was sooo pretty!We walked through the quaint little streets and small food and flower markets. We got photos next to a pretty little fountain and watched trams run through Nice's centre. After that we took a leisurely stroll along the promenade and took some photos next to the Mediterranean ocean from the pebbled beaches. Some of the girls wanted to shop and explore more of Nice. I wanted to relax on the beach as I love doing this when I go on holidays to the Gold Coast or any beach back in Australia! I took some time out to soak up the sun and the relaxed feel of the French Riviera on my own. This was beautiful and although the pebbles weren't that comfortable I enjoyed knowing that this was unique and unlike many other places in the world, so I enjoyed every second!I even fell asleep for around 30 minutes at one stage I think listening to the waves and enjoying time out. Lucky no one stole my handbag!lol

Me on the beach of  Nice
Beautiful Views from the Promenade

Me and the girls on the fountain in the centre of Nice
Pebbled beaches
Me enjoying every bit of Nice
I woke up and continued to walk along to the end of the promenade where I could see the old ruins of the Le Chateau-which is on the hill overlooking the bay and it has a fantastic view of the Cote d'Azur. I also had my first experience of paying to use a toilet in Nice as we had to do in many places over Europe.Venice being the most expensive to pee!lol On the drive back to the cabins I was amazed at the mountains and all of the houses were built up in this beautiful area in the South of France. I would love to go back and see more of the French Riviera one day. Places like Cannes and other small places would be fun to explore.

Love the Perfume Sniffing Backpacker

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