Exchange diaries Edinburgh: A very Nice vacation

Styna Tao is in Edinburgh on exchange this fall. She’ll be sharing her experiences every three weeks as a regular contributor to Lifestyle.

Week six of my term at the University of Edinburgh was a week for Honours Business students to take seminars and work on their graduation dissertation.

But as an exchange student, I didn’t have the obligation to do a dissertation and because lectures were cancelled, I essentially had a mid-semester reading week.

I was fairly flexible with where I wanted to go, so thanks to Skyscanner’s handy flight search, I found a good-priced flight to Nice and decided to go for it.

Like almost everyone, I have some bucket-list places that I planned to visit while on exchange, but Nice wasn’t one of them. However, I absolutely adore France — I haven’t visited a French city that I haven’t liked — and the idea of escaping to the warmth of the French Riviera as the cold sets in Edinburgh made the decision an easy one.

I arrived in Nice on a Monday afternoon. The plane flew over the ocean, giving me a glimpse of the towns on the coast. I was jittery with excitement.

When we landed, my outfit of jeans, a long-sleeve shirt and a leather jacket was seriously incompatible with the 25 degree sunshine shining.

Thankfully, I did pack for the weather with a variety of shorts, tank tops and dresses — all of which, I’m glad to say, were put to good use during my five days in Nice.

Regardless of the length of stay, the city just feels so relaxing and indulgent. If you love old towns like I do, the narrow cobblestone streets lined with shops and restaurants will delight you.

All the architecture looks like Mediterranean beach houses, with cream or yellow walls, orange roofs and decorated balconies with colourful flowers.

What makes Nice even more perfect is the number of markets that can be found, the main one being the Marché des Fleurs (Flower Market) in the Cours Saleya.

Whether you’re looking for vegetables, flowers, lavender soap, olives, bread or cheese, you can find them in abundance.

After you’ve bought your obligatory French lunch consisting of bread, cheese, dried sausage and olives, you can head straight to the beach in less than five minutes on foot. You can stroll along the Promenade des Anglais — a boardwalk named after the English vacationers — to find your perfect spot for lunch.

The sun shines all day long on the pebble beach so you can work on your tan after you eat while listening to the waves crash.

For dinner, seafood lovers will happily rejoice. A variety of mussels, oysters and fish dishes are served at most restaurants.

A three-course dinner of savory crepes, mussels in white wine sauce and apple tart can be had for under 20 euros. Enjoy it with local wine on a patio set in an old town square, listening to serenading musicians. You won’t believe it’s real life. To explore the Riviera, you can take a train for around three euros and arrive in an hour or less to any of the nearby coast towns where more sunshine, beaches and sweet crepes await.

The worst thing about Nice was leaving, as I reluctantly put my jeans back on and boarded the plane with my jacket in hand, knowing that I’ll need it when I land.

Until next time, beautiful French Riviera.

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