Hotel Mercure Marché aux Fleurs,
Quai des États-Unis, Nice
We’re ending our time in France where it began three months ago, at a little hotel on the grand promenade facing the ocean in Nice. Darlene says, “I’ve learned a lot about France, I’ve learned some French. I’ve learned some things about myself, and I’ve learned some things about my husband. It’s good to do these things, and if you can’t say it more elegantly than that, don’t say it.” It’s a running topic of discussion how this blog seldom comes close to reflecting her experience of any given day or event. I used to try harder to weave her impressions into the writing, but such effort seldom pleased either of us. So you can be sure that this account of the last three months has only glancing reflections of what she’s experienced. Sometime I’d like to try a dual blog, sort of a James Carville/Mary Matlin presentation of a trip. Despite our incredibly different interests and travel rhythms, this long trip has ended up satisfying us both in equal measure. To return to this same rocky beach and think back over two months of French school, a month of travels based in Cannes, and all the people we’ve met and visited, is to experience the kind of creepy way that time gets compressed into the blink of any eye. Who were those two Americans who showed up at this hotel three months ago, nervously preparing for French immersion? They had no idea what they were getting into. And now as they are leaving, it’s not much clearer. Three months have passed in a foreign country which day by day came to seem less foreign.