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March Break Abroad: Èze and Monaco

March Break Abroad: Èze and Monaco

Bonne soirée!

Today was our first official day touring the French Riviera as we boarded up the bus and headed up to the French hillsides of the Côte d'Azur. 

Staff and students ate breakfast and were then greeted by our two guides, Izabella and Natalie, who remained with us for the day on tour. After a long travel day on Monday, it was important that students returned back to the program feeling refreshed and ready to get back to some of the most beautiful sites in the South of France.


We quickly made our way up the hillside with its rounding roads and curving corners before stopping for a quick panoramic shot of the bay below before reaching 1,286 ft above sea level. Students disembarked to gaze out into the Mediterranean Sea and took a series of fun photographs along the way. Looking back, not one student was sleeping as we drove up the escarpment as they gazed at the marvels of what lay beneath us. 

Our first stop included a quick visit to the medieval town of Èze on the Maritime Alps. This small commune built into the mountainside currently boasts a five-star hotel which continues to buy up the many small houses. It also comes with a two-star Michelin restaurant, one of the finest in the world. 

Similar to Siena, the winding streets of Èze provided a window into amazing photography opportunities for students as they circled their way to the top of the small city. Olivia was even able to stop along the way and pick up a neo-classical clock!

While in Èze, our guide brought us to the small city square for a quick lesson on the commune's history. We learned that the clay roof tiles were originally handcrafted on the thighs of local working women, which is what gave the tiles their thigh-like shape. 

We also learned that the more tiles stacked, the wealthier you were. If you were able to have iron clasped to your house, this would also be a sign of wealth as an indicator of your transportation: a horse. From history to views, Èze was a success.

After our time in Èze, we were then brought down for a special tour of Fragonard, the factory and museum of natural perfume. 

Students were welcomed into the main presentation center with displays of historic perfume cases and vases from North America to Europe. We all learned about the extraction process and the 500 noses of the world for fine scents and perfumes. A nose is not just on your face, but a scent profession in the perfume industry.

Did you know that the noses have to be alert to all scents and have them memorized? 

At the end of our tour, students were given time to shop the many fragrances and purchase a series of gifts and charms for family and friends before heading out to Monaco. Some purchased a series of soaps, while others opted for the fragrances themselves and a series of handcrafted oil-based products. I even took the time to purchase this year's androgynous fragrance of the year, Narcisse. 

Upon arriving in Monaco, we were directly brought up to the Oceanographic Museum where the famous Jacques Cousteau formerly directed. 

Our guides brought us on a walking tour through the Jardins Saint-Martin on our way up to Saint Nicholas' Cathedral where the royal family of Monaco is interred, including Grace Kelly. We were then taken through the narrow streets of Monaco to explore lunch options before arriving at the observation deck as we gazed at the incredible yachts, restaurants, and hotels that lay beneath us in Port Hercule. 

Students were dismissed in the square and sent off for lunch. Mr. Minicucci and I made our way over to the Monte Carlo Casino for more mega yachts and lavish architecture. 

After lunch, we all made our way back to the Oceanographic Museum for our afternoon visit to see the underwater life from crustaceans to sharks and turtles. Students spent an hour in the museum engaging in the various tanks and displays as we walked through the dark tranquillity of the aquarium before making our way back to the hotel. 

Up to this point, we have now visited four countries including two of the smallest - Vatican City and Monaco. 

Tomorrow brings us to new adventures on the French Riviera as we head over to Antibes and Cannes, most notably recognized as the host of the Cannes Film Festival. 

Students will be able to walk the red carpet and enjoy a series of excellent restaurants for lunch while coasting down the Côte d'Azur.

À bientôt!