The Best Way to Get Lost in the French Riviera | My Family Travels

The Historic Square of Place Massena

After walking through the gorgeous checkerboard-covered square Place Massena, we reached the bustling main street that hugs the pebbly beaches of the Mediterranean. Our tour guide led us to an unending flight of stairs that led up to what’s called Castle Hill. I began to run up the ruthless stairs, curious about what waited for me at the top.

Pictures can’t do it justice. The golden sunset falling over the city of Nice, reflecting off of the bouncing waves of the Mediterranean, was a stunning sight to see. After finding our way to a small yet dazzling waterfall, I was told by our guide that we had to be back down by 5:00. I decided to go to the top of the waterfall with a few classmates, and once we got to the top, I was left alone with a girl, Bekah, to whom I had only spoken to a few times during the trip.

Getting up to the waterfall wasn’t a difficult task but going down was a challenging feat. We stopped at the elevator that was there to take us down, but nobody was there to man it. After about twenty minutes of roaming cluelessly around the park, we realized that we were lost. Bekah and I had walked past the same archway three times, but we could’ve sworn we took different ways each time. I had never experienced a team building exercise as efficient as working together with my classmate to find our way back to the group. Eventually, we managed to find the staircase, so we ran down it feeling as free as ever; that was until we saw the green gate that welcomed us to the park was locked shut.

With one look down at the busy street we passed by earlier, I knew that climbing around the gate wouldn’t be an option. A man with greying hair that was standing nearby explained that the park closed at 4:30, but there was another exit we could use. Unfortunately, this required another climb up the gruesome stairs. However tired and unhappy we were with having to climb the never-ending set of stairs, we were lucky to have found this man. As we followed him through the park to a cluster of beautiful pastel buildings, we collected other people that were stuck in the same situation as us. This man, our makeshift tour guide, spoke of his travels to Australia and other countries, and how we were lucky to start this journey at such a young age. He told us that travelling provides something books and schools can’t. He said to travel as much as we can, because you become such a well-rounded person when you’re exposed to different cultures and settings. While I don’t have the time to describe this man’s speech in full, I believe this quote from Mark Twain sums up what he was trying to convey to us: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.

I think it was the mix of seeing captivating views and maybe even his French accent, because his advice has stuck with me. His wise words led my passion for travel and language to grow, and I am now looking into universities overseas to experience as many cultures as I can. While getting lost in Nice was not the plan, it was an eye-opening detour that allowed me to learn from a local; now when I talk about this trip, I always bring up Castle Hill.

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