Mel: Nice by Dark
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Nice, etc.
I grew up in London and moved to Toronto in my 20s following a love affair with a longhaired musician. Eight years later, with a Canadian passport in my hand, I took myself on a 3-month sabbatical to Paris – which turned into two years. Then in 2012, after becoming tired of old buildings and pastel-coloured macarons, I packed my cases and followed the sunshine to Nice where I eventually found my happily ever after. Work wise, I’m an advertising copywriter, which keeps me very busy in between blog posts.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Well, I like telling stories and I like lists. Lists of favourite restaurants, mini breaks, activities, gift ideas, all sorts. I revise my lists, colour-code my lists, refer to my lists when someone comes to visit… so why not share? My “real” writing job is largely dictated by clients, so with NiceByDark I have the creative freedom to set my own rules and use the occasional rude word.
Do you have any favourite blog entries of yours?
Maybe the experience at Nice’s “authentic” new hammam. I still laugh at the thought of lying buck-naked on a metal table being aggressively sand papered. The “8 local dishes worth getting fat for” were fun to research too.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Nice differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I initially moved to France from Toronto, Canada – two opposite ends of the customer service spectrum. It took a lot of patience (and a lot of wine) to get used to being Frenched around. As for Nice itself, can you wake up in London to the sound of yachts clinking in the breeze? Can you rock up to a beachside restaurant in a kayak? I’d say that part was pretty easy to get used to.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Nice? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was already familiar with the South of France having spent an ERASMUS year in Montpellier as a student. And thankfully, I had already experienced French paperwork headaches many times. However, had I known I would stay indefinitely, I would have spent two years growing my hair long and straggly so I could throw it up into an effortless French twist and glide into the sea pretending not to be hurt by the pebbles.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Yes – kissing! Learning when to faire la bise is no straightforward matter. I once missed my last tram home from a party because I forgot to allow time for the obligatory 20-minute goodbye kiss orgy. Then there was the time I got so used to just kissing everyone that I launched myself towards the electrician with a firm “mwah mwah” on each cheek. His face was a strange mix of shock and excitement; it was a very uncomfortable experience for both of us.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Nice?
I wrote a blog post for newcomers to Nice actually that gives all sorts of starter tips. But for now:
- Hit the gym. You’ll be half naked for 6 months of the year.
- Learn to meditate. It will help you when they lose your parcel at La Poste.
- Buy your own scanner & photocopier. You’ll be surprised how often you need it.
How is the expat community in Nice? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It’s fantastic! Nice is full of expats with colourful life stories. Through Meet Up groups and InterNations events I made my first few friends and from there my circle expanded. My advice is: be a chameleon. Adapt to your surroundings and open yourself up to meeting weird and wonderful individuals of all nationalities.
How would you summarize your expat life in Nice in a single, catchy sentence?
Any city that allows you to consume half a pack of butter in an elegant fashion and then disappear for a siesta is my kind of place!