(An expensive, but) Nice day in Nice

In France, Travel, Uncategorized on May 8, 2009 at 8:50 am

Having  written a letter of complaint to the travel agents about the disappointing changes to the itinerary of our hol, I’ve calmed down a bit now and I can start to talk about some of the more impressive parts of my holiday, which in short, was the time we weren’t on the boat, kicking off in Nice.

We headed out of the port at once to hit Monaco, home to Prince Albert and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie.

The buildings in Monaco are gorgeous, the streets clean and the gardens beautifully tended. Views over wondrous hillsides, crystal clear blue seas reflecting dazzling shards of light from the burning sunshine…I know we saw it at it’s best, but I imagine the people who can afford to live in Monaco have some kind of deal with the rain gods where he takes a cut to make sure it only rains between the hours of 2-5am to ensure the greenery remains lush.

St Nicholas Cathedral, where Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco, is a stunning church, perfect for the wedding of a film icon and Princess in waiting, while the principality’s courthouse sees very little use – essentially the domain for divorces now. Monaco does have a prison, where there is one prisoner – and as criminal addresses go, that’s not too shabby.

St Nicholas Cathedral

St Nicholas Cathedral

The prince’s palace itself, now inhabited by Grace and Rainier’s son Prince Albert, enjoys 24-hour security from terribly chic marching French guards, and is close to the enviably grand homes of daughters Caroline and Stephanie. The public gardens opposite their homes are beautifully kept, and could easily be the location for many lazy hours of relaxation if the lure of Monte carlo wasn’t just a few miles away.

Right now, the Grand Prix track is being set up in Monte Carlo, ahead of the race later this month, and we proceeded to the famous casino – which fortunately didn’t open in time for me to go a drop a load of cash.  The world famous Hotel de Paris lies alongside the casino, with rooms costing 1,000 euros a night, and those overlooking the Grand Prix track later this month will go for 10,000 euros a night, my my my, Monte Carlo requires some wealth to enjoy its luxuries.

Casino, Monte Carlo

Casino, Monte Carlo

We compromised by enjoying a beer and a coke at the Cafe de Paris, and having received a 21 euro bill, I got my money’s worth by keeping my Hotel de Paris coaster and drinks stirrer as evidence as the most overpriced coke I would ever drink (I was wrong, by the way, see Venice at a later date).

We headed back to Nice to amble along the chi-chi pavement cafes, bask in the sunshine and playing my new favourite game: “If I won the lottery, I would buy that yacht. No, that yacht. the one with the helicopter on it.”

The one that I liked best was a snazzy little number with blacked out windows and a blue helicopter, which I later learned I could hire for a week, if I could get my hands on 67 grand.

Elton John has himself a rather swanky yellow house high in the Nice hills, which I spent some time squinting at through binoculars as we left port, but I didn’t see him anywhere. Oh well, I was later to learn he has lots of yellow houses, all over the place, so I didn’t give up hope.


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