After leaving Rome we took the train to the French Riviera-Nice. One of our main reasons for choosing to stay in Nice was it’s proximity to Monte Carlo where we planned to take a day trip.
In regards to Nice, we mostly spent the day walking around, reading at the beach and enjoying the perfect weather. Not many photos and not much to talk about, so I’ll just write about Monte Carlo. I will say this though, it was very refreshing for me to be in France but not in Paris. It reminded me that there is a completely different France outside the Peripherique, with a different temperment and a different climate! We had a really, really lovely time and I highly recommend it to all. I definitely want to go back. It still has that charm of a sea-side destination, where one goes to breath in the fresh sea air, drink some clean pure water, and regain your health a little bit. I felt that even just our short time in Nice revitalized me a little bit.
But oh, fabulous Monte Carlo. That funny, tiny place perched on a cliff. I’d been there once before as a child on a Mediteranean cruise with my Grandmother. I remember it being very fabulous, and yes, feeling very rich. It has not changed.
Although Monaco is spread out over several wards and smaller towns (including Monte Carlo) and these towns are on cliffs, it is still very walkable. They also had buses, but the main thing that aids you is the ascenseurs publiques, or free elevators!
Our first stop was a visit to the grand Monte Carlo Casino.
A beautiful beaux-arts building, it is the pinnacle of what all the other buildings in Monaco are striving for. Beautiful, swirling iron work decoration, fresh clean facades and neo classical references in the columns and sculptures.
We had planned to go in and look around but we found out that the cover charge is 10 euro! We realized that since we certainly weren’t going to win back that money by gambling, it wasn’t really worth it. Le sigh, next time!
Instead we picnicked in front of the Casino and discussed what it could possibly be like to live in Monte Carlo, drive a Ferrari and gamble at the Casino. This is an exsistence I can’t even imagine. Because, oh yes, in front of the casino is a handful of the most expensive cars I’ve seen in many moons. Even just standing in front of the place taking pictures, I saw a Bentley drive by. And then a Ferrari SUV (they make SUV’s?). And then a Porsche. One after the other. Just another Tuesday in Monte Carlo.
After lunch we soaked up the bright, sterling sun on the way over to the Royal Palace. We got a chance to see Monaco’s cliffside residences up close, and peer out over the harbor. Of course, we stopped for gelato along the way. Side note, totally not the same as Italian Gelato. And we’re not 50 miles over the border!
Although the palace is lovely, we decided that we wanted to spend our time seeing His Serene Highness Prince Albert’s Car Collection. We made the right choice! It clearly states that it’s not a museum, but rather a collection of vintage cars and carriages, as well as modern day cars -all a passion of the current Prince.
What a sight! It was incredible to see how interesting the design of cars was when they were still new and novel, and compare with the frankly boring and lackluster design of cars today. It was also neat to see what cars were being made when our Grandparents and Parents were born, and compare them to current cars. You can see the cultural and technological priorities have shifted.
They also had a great collection of all the posters from the famous Monaco Grande Prixe over the years. Here are some of our favorites.
We finished the day by heading back to the Royal Palace and enjoying drinks at a cafe in front of it, at sunset. We looked out over all of Monte Carlo and took in the velvety sunset colors.
Our day trip was just what we wanted-the novelty of seeing this tiny, luxe principality, a bit of sunshine and fun! What more could you ask for?
Next stop: Barcelona!