The same weekend I went to the Lemon Festival, I went to Nice, Monaco, and rode the bus four times along the beautiful Cote d’Azur.
The Cote d’Azur – meaning the coast of blue – is not just any blue. Perhaps “azure” as the name implies, but it’s a blue that I think is yet to be qualified. It’s a blue I have no descriptive words for. It’s impossible to capture with a camera, it’s something you have to see for yourself. And it changes with the sunshine, the weather, though it remains that same vivid color everywhere along the French Riviera. It’s an idyllic place and it knows it: take the 1 euro bus that shuttles you anywhere between Nice and Menton and you’ll pass through little towns called “Beaulieu-sur-Mer” (beautiful/handsome place on the sea), “Villefranche-sur-Mer” (French village on the sea), “Beausoleil” (beautiful sun), and even “Cap-d’Ail” (Cape Garlic). The pastel Italianate towns look like birthday cakes, clinging to the rock while looking out at their little ports full of white sailboats. Million-dollar villas sit just outside the towns and along the coastal road. It’s a world of perfectly green lawns, aqua pools, citrus and palm trees.
And a world of money. Namely, Monaco. I couldn’t “gamble in the casino” because you have to have your passport and be 21, and I didn’t have either. So the only thing I cared about was that this was the home of wonderful gorgeous Grace Kelly. The old town is beautiful like the rest of the Riviera, the new town is made up of new apartment and office buildings. But it appears unlived in. The word that comes to mind is “sterile.” I have no idea who lives there as the only people I saw were tourists. The streets and buildings are impeccably clean, without any garbage, paper advertising, dog poop, or even spilled liquids, as is typical in every other French city (this is a really dirty country). All the cars are Maseratis, Lamborghinis, etc. And it’s quiet, very very quiet. It’s a bizarre place. It seemed as though the only place that had any activity was the Palace, where everyday at 11:55 there is a “changing of the guard.” Here it was crowded with tourists, all to watch a “spectacle” (if you can even call it that) which lasted all of 5 minutes. A bell tower plays a little melody, some guards walk out and switch places with some other guards, and then they all go back into hiding and no other Monaco-an is seen. I saw far more dogs than people. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a dog agility show (perhaps this was where the whole entire town was that day?) and I spent almost two hours watching it and missing my dog/all pets.
Monte Carlo (unfortunately it was early morning and the sun is directly behind it)
Harbor plus the palace on the hill.
Monaco had the biggest boats in the highest concentration that I have seen.
In honor of the Grand Prix!
On the promenade, the left has the dog show and to the right is AN ICE SKATING RINK. In 65 degree weather. On a Mediterranean harbor.
Tourists queuing up to see the “spectacle.”
And here it is!
Also, I spent about 5% of my time in Nice. It was Carnaval, maybe I should’ve stayed longer, but I am SOOOO city-ed out and Monaco and Menton are smaller. I didn’t realize how “small-town” I was until I got here. Aix, though it’s great, is too big for me. I’m pretty sure Bellingham is the maximum size city that I can deal with. Also, there is no nature here (and by here I mean actually in town). No rivers, no bays, no mountains as I’m used to. Everything is very crowded and claustrophobic (and dirty). I know this is characteristic of Europe but I guess I didn’t really notice it last time during a whirlwind 30 days and I do now as I’m really spending some quality time here.
And oh look, there was actually a photo of me in case you want to see that I look the same as always…