Bonjour a tout le monde!
I write this from my Amélie-esque (or Le Fableux destin d’Amélie Poulain-esque for all you frenchies) apartment in Toulon, complete with a little old lady that lives downstairs and a toilet so small that your knees touch the door! It’s been a rollercoaster first few days, a lot has happened so I’ll try not to make it too long!
I arrived in Nice on Friday afternoon to absolutely gorgeous sunshine and palm trees. Subsequently, I had to spend the rest of the afternoon travelling via bus and train to Toulon, but the wonderful views of Nice – Antibes – Cannes – Toulon coastline made up for it! I was also impressed with how helpful the people were in Nice train station, particularly when faced with getting my two suitcases up the stairs to the platform when a policeman helped me (although he looked surprised to be asked!) and then an old man insisted on helping me get them onto the train!
Anyway, upon my arrival in Toulon, I was met by one of the English teachers from the school, Julia. I had been in contact with her for a while via Facebook so it wasn’t really too scary and she had kindly offered to let me stay at her house for my first night. Her family was very welcoming so I was pretty nervous the next day when it came to leaving that comfort and moving into my apartment. However, I needn’t have worried as one of my flatmates (Maria-Lisa) was there to welcome me and look after me after Julia left. [I should probably explain, I am sharing an apartment on a tiny quiet road of Toulon with two French girls (my colocs) who are studying law at the Université de Toulon.] Despite my fears, I told Maria-Lisa that she could only talk to me in French, so the rest of the day was pretty tiring as I tried to remember the language, but she was very helpful, correcting me when I needed it. She took me to the shopping centre and around the centre of Toulon, then we went for a drink on the quay – she introduced me to the panaché which I have realised since is just a shandy!
On Saturday evening, we went out for dinner. Axel (one of the guys who had been renting the apartment over the summer) drove us in the thunder and lightening storms (yes, it’s rained everyday since I got here!) to the next town of Hyères, where after being turned down at three restaurants with no room, we settled on a seafood place overlooking the massive yachts. Despite the weather being awful (il pleurait comme vache qui pisse) it was an enjoyable evening, though I had to have some wine to get my French going again, especially since Axel was from near Paris so had a difficult accent to understand, so Maria-Lisa translated into southern French for me (a very easy accent to understand!). I discovered that Maria-Lisa loves food just as much as me and was just as indecisive when looking at a menu, but I eventually decided on Tartare de Saumon (something with smoked salmon..but it was delicious!), Moules Frites avec sauce de Roquefort and Moelleux au Chocolat (basically a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate sauce in the middle).
The next day I was on my own, so I decided to explore the town a little. For those of you that don’t know France, it completely shuts down on a Sunday. Toulon was an absolute ghost town, and a little scary so to avoid the French chavs I headed down to the port for a wander. As a spur of a moment thing, I decided to hop on one of the boats giving tours of La Rade (where all the navy battleships and submarines are kept – Toulon is a military town), surprisingly I could understand almost everything the guide was saying and got the chance to see the gorgeous areas just outside Toulon. Afterwards, I headed to get an ice cream and take in the tiny bit of sun! When I got back, Maria had moved back in so we had a chilled out evening with Maria’s friend.
The next morning they were heading off to the Alps for a few days holiday, but unfortunately I couldn’t go with them as I started my job the next day, so I’ve been on my own for a few days…but more on that a bit later today as this post has gotten pretty long already!