Guest review: Sue takes the plunge and heads to Nice on her first singles holiday
I very distinctly remember talking to Sue several times over emails and the phone to help her plan her very first solo holiday overseas. With a bit of French already under her belt, Sue was considering a French language holiday but she was so nervous, it was making me nervous (what if she hated it? What if she felt the accommodation was too simple? The transportation too difficult for her?)!
However, I reassured her that she would have a great time, as most people do on the French language courses. Sue opted for Nice to study French – a perfect balance of language lessons and beach time. Meanwhile, I eagerly awaited her return.
You can imagine how good it felt when I came back from my own holiday to an email from Sue telling me what an extraordinary time she’d had in Nice. Based on our chat below, it is safe to say that Sue has pretty much kicked the fear of travelling solo right in the ass…
As you typically don’t travel solo, what made you take a singles holiday this time?
As all of my friends were booked up for the summer, I most certainly didn’t want to miss out just from ridiculous trepidation of travelling alone. It was time to bite the bullet if I wanted to take advantage of my free time in the summer. It was time to get over it.
I heard about NotInTheGuideBooksthrough a friend who went surfing in Portugal alone, and she reassured me that although I would be making my way there alone, I would not be lonely once there.
So did you meet other people on this language holiday?
Oh yes, it would be difficult not to. From the moment I entered the classroom, everyone was friendly, almost bubbly, and everyone introduced themselves and welcomed me right in. It was a nice mix of nationalities wanting to improve their French, so we all of course had that in common. On our first day we were given a city tour, we got to know one another, then had a great dinner together.
I went into it with a tiny fear that I would be the oldest there (I think when we think of schools, 18+ comes to mind), but I couldn’t be more wrong. The youngest was indeed 18, with the oldest in their 70’s. In our class of about 15, I would say the majority fell into the 30’s category. Class aside, you meet others in between classes in the garden and chat with people from all levels and places, and the same goes for the organised excursions.
How was your home stay accommodation? What was your host like?
I stayed with a local woman and her son, in a lovely home very close to the school. To be honest, it was exactly what I needed for the week, although I must admit I didn’t see my host much, as most of my time was out exploring, at the school, or out for dinner in the evenings or joining the excursions. Regardless, home stays are just a great, affordable way to get a glimpse into how the locals live.
Which day was your favorite and what did you do?
I am seriously unable to choose just one as each of my evenings were different. Some of the excursions are free, some you pay to join.
A few examples of ones that I joined during my week were cheese and wine tasting, with 5, yes 5 glasses of wine, accompanied with cheese platters and bread for €20.00. A Riviera tour for the day on Friday including tons of sights and Monte Carlo for €40.
Sometimes there were just simple social events, such as a picnic on the beach. Also, while I was there, there was a free jazz festival in town which was free for students.
How did your French improve during your stay?
Most people were intermediate and a bit better than I was but my French without a doubt has improved. It was intense but it really started a passion for me and I want to make it a goal to keep up my studies from home, as well as going back for a 2 week language course in Nice to explore the area even more. To be honest, mainly have some more time on the beach as a reward afterwards!
How were the language teachers?
The teachers were amazing, friendly, encouraging and perfect at getting people to speak in French regardless of lack of perfection. And even better at getting people together to get to know each other and the wonderful city.
Our guide for the excursions was actually British and he started a WhatsApp group so the students as well as himself could keep in touch if we split up or to see if we wanted to join in on anything happening. Very convenient, and perfect for being social.
What advice would you give to other solo travellers wanting to do a language course?
My advice is to go for a full 2 weeks, and perhaps even an extra few nights somewhere on your own to relax as a reward after 2 weeks of hard work and play.
Nice is unbelievably simple to get around, with an easy, excellent tram service with only 1 line. It is simple to get around, and plan what you would like to see and do at your own pace; although the staff are always on hand for advice and pointers. Don’t forget, your close to and easily connected to Monaco, Cannes, and other brilliant places, hence squeezing in some extra days for yourself.
I will go back to Nice but this time extend my stay and I have found a friend who wants to join me, but even if she is unable to commit, I will definitely be returning on my own. One week is not long enough – there’s just too many things to see!
If Sue has inspired you to travel solo, you can read more about her French language holiday in Nice here.