Bienvenue a France!
For my study tour, our class went to the picturesque French Riviera (La Côte d’Azur) in order to better connect with the philosophers we’ve been studying and in order to immerse ourselves in a different culture to experience The Good Life from an entirely new perspective.
And experience it we most certainly did, as we made the most of our time. Our trip started at 2:45am Monday when we left for the Copenhagen airport, and what followed was an action packed day in the city of Nice, France. Among the sites we saw were the famous Chagall museum, which we tied to our studies with Kierkegaard, as well as a view of Nice overlooking the famous Promenade Anglaise, or English Promenade.
Tuesday was a little more laid back, with free time in the morning to explore Nice. We met up together for lunch at a Lebanese restaurant, which was an absolute blast, and then headed off by bus to the idyllic Chateau de Creamat for a wine tasting.
There we learned how wine is made, and how the philosopher Nietzche perceived happiness through two different modes, the Apollonian (Apollo was the Greek god of art) and the Dionysian (Dionysus was the Greek god of wine). After that we took the bus back to Nice, where we had more free time. As a class we decided to make use of our afternoon and evening and hop on a train over to Monaco, where we spent the evening gawking at sportscars and swimming near all the yachts. Luckily there was a McDonald’s there that we could semi-afford, which we actually referenced and discussed later in class.
On Wednesday we temporarily vacated our cozy hotel in Nice and went by bus to the French village of Lourmarin, the home of Albert Camus. We read an excerpt from one of his works after visiting his grave, and then we were on our own for lunch before exploring the local castle.
I took two years of french way back in high school, and had a blast trying to order in French. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so flattered as when a local shop owner asked me the difference between two grammatical concepts in English. I got a bit big for my French britches though, and wound up buying a hat on accident, although in hindsight it’s probably my favorite of all the souvenirs I picked up there.
After a fantastic group dinner and spending the night in Lourmarin, we left for the Grotto of Saint-Baume, a Dominican monastery nestled up into the mountains near the Rhone river. After a steep but intensely rewarding hike, we made it to the monastery itself before lunch. At the end my phone was congratulating me for climbing so many stairs, but the views and the monastery were so incredible that I didn’t even notice.
From there we took the bus directly back to our hotel in Nice, and then had a fantastic group dinner where we all got a sampler platter of local dishes before our entree, and I was able to try both Octopus and Rabbit for the first time!
Friday was our last day in France, but as consolation we saw what I can’t help but think are the best views in the entire world from the medieval village of Eze.
As a side note and added bonus, on the way from Nice to Eze we drove through Beaulieu-sur-mer, the inspiration for the setting of one of my favorite movies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which was a large reason for my taking French back in high school.
From Eze we hiked all the way down to the sea vie Nietzche (and as of two weeks before we were there Obama’s footpath). The hike was long but beautiful, and at the end we were rewarded with an afternoon of swimming in the Mediterranean before our flight back to Copenhagen.
I originally took my class, The Good Life: Philosophy of Happiness, due to my own interest in the subject and my being a philosophy major, but the study tour alone made me infinitely glad it was the course I had chosen to take.