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Report 1316: European Travel Back When - 1964

By Marian from New Jersey, Summer 1995

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Page 7 of 20: French Trains Can be Awful but Nice Can Be Nice

I spend the train trip sitting up in a compartment with seven men. I don't get any sleep until three of them, two soldiers and a sailor, get off at 9am. But then, when the train arrived in Nice at 11am, one of the men from my compartment carried my luggage to the consigne (baggage check).

First a coffee, then I am down to the serious business of finding a hotel. I was looking for one in particular that is near the beach, but it is too far out. The hotel I do find, Avenue Hotel is perfectly fine, at 12 francs per night. What do I do first? Obvious: I head to the beach! This may be Nice in June, but still it's not sunny. So I decide to look for Marlène's sister, Joan. I check the address, and see that she lives in the Résidence Negresco, a magnificent apartment house directly behind one of the nicest hotels in Nice. I find her father's apartment first and then hers. She is very charming, and even offers to put me up! But I tell her that I already have a hotel room. We arrange to meet tomorrow at 11am.

My first full day on the French Riviera begins, and I am finally able to take a shower; it wasn't possible at night. All clean, I meet Joan in a market (where I say no, I do not eat cheval [horse]), then we have lunch (very good), followed by coffee in a bar run by friends of hers. We part, and somehow I am unable to open the door to her apartment ---- one of those things that makes one feel so stupid!

I've been invited to have dinner with her en famille. But first I spend the afternoon at the beach. I am really on the French Riviera! The beach is rocky, but the water is amazing! The problem is walking down to the water. If you pay to sit at one of the hotel beaches, you get to use a long runner from the top of the beach all the way down. Maybe I will do that another day.

So, dinner with Joan, her father and his wife. Very very good, and fun. One interesting interchange: Joan's father asks me "De quelle nationalité êtes vous?" (What nationality are you?) So confused, I answer "Je suis américaine", which I had assumed he knew. But he repeats "Non. Votre surnom est S…De quelle nationalité êtes vous?" I look puzzled, so he puts his hand in his shirt, pulling out a Magen David (Star of David) on a chain from under his shirt. "Nous sommes Israelites. De quelle nationalité êtes vous?" So I tell him that I too am Jewish, which he had gathered from my last name.

From this I learn a few things. One, of course, is that the Marly family is Jewish (their name is really Cohen-Marly, as I have seen on the doorbell). Second, that 19 years after the end of the Second World War, the usual French word for Jew, or Jewish, "juif", still has not recovered its use.

Following dinner, we all watch TV chez Papa.

Unfortunately, all this lovely time is followed, back at my hotel in the middle of the night, by an awful case of traveler's sickness. And so it goes.

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