Welcome to Mun-ock-o

Or so said our GPS with the Brittish accent when we arrived to Monaco. What a fun little country. A Grand Prix, a royal palace, and a casino, what more does a country need. We spent a day here, of course two hours of that was lunch, and then headed back to Cannes for our film festival.

Someone was kind enough to snap a picture of us together. This was in the palace gardens. Rob has way more pics of this than me.
When we arrived we parked in Monte Carlo, and decided to walk to the palace, in Monaco-ville (there are only two cities). This is the palace way off in the distance…at the top of yet another hill.

When we were driving in we realized we were on part of the race track. I really can’t imagine taking this winding mountainous road course at close to 100mph. But race they do. The Grand Prix was the weekend before, so the track was in various stages of tear down. Here are some of the stands.And the safety fence looking uphill.We stopped to rest and take lots of pictures along the way.And finally reached our destination! Just in time for the changing of the guard. Quite the ceremony.
We did take the guided tour of the palace. Alas, no pictures allowed. We have decided that all houses should have an inner courtyard – it really cools the place off. And the throne room is tiny.
We explored the town around the palace, ate lunch (see previous post) and saw where Princess Grace is buried. It was a nice walk through the palace gardens back down the mountain to Monte Carlo, where we went to the famous casino.
It was totally worth the 10 Euros each to get in and the 10 Euros Rob played in the slot machine because he WON! 50 Euros! What we liked about this casino is no smoking (you can smoke everywhere else, but not in here), the slot machines were quiet – they only rang when you won, and that wasn’t so loud, and REAL COINS come out of the machine. We decided to trade in all the 2E coins for a large bill. See Rob with his winnings.
And that is our trip to France. I’m sure I’ve left out plenty, but we are off again today for vacation phase 2 – a cruise to the Bahamas. I will post the video of the Changing of the Guard when we return.

The thing about mountains…

…is that there are an awful lot of hills. Luckily (I think?) for us there were also lots of stairs to help with the up and down.
The Cote d’Azur is an interesting part of France. It is where the Alps meet the Mediterranean. We stayed in Cannes, tucked between the mountains and the sea. There were still a lot of hills. I swear walking to the festival was walking uphill both ways 🙂

In Cannes we walked and explored and marveled at the people in tuxedos, ready for the red carpet. We ate really well.

The other sea town we visited was Antibes, where Picasso once lived. Unfortunately we went on Monday, and the Picasso museum was closed. Many artists spent time painting in this region and there were plaques with their pictures facing the actual landscape.

Rob even did a sketch of the old town Antibes. From where we sat we could see the old Grimaldi (the royal family of Monaco) house (now the Picasso museum) and the cathedral bell tower. They say on a clear day you can see the snow capped mountains (it was too hot and a little hazy the day we were there).

We spent a day driving to the mountain towns of Vence and Grasse. Vence was old, the coolest part about it I thought was that they have springs with fountains that were put in around 1546 and STILL WORK! We filled up our water bottle at one. The old town o Vence is still a walled city with no vehicular traffic.

Then we drove to Grasse and the drive was gorgeous. Terrace towns in the mountains.

And we saw this.The bus was way to big and stopped traffic for awhile as oncoming traffic had to back out of the way.

In Grasse we visited a perfume factory because Grasse is the home of perfume. Lucky for us the last tour of the day was in Anglais, so we took it and learned all about perfume making. I don’t usually wear perfume, but we bought some, and I like it.

The Food

Rob and a Nicoise salad
salad with fried goat cheese and ham, fried goat cheese should really be used in more foods.
glacee de pomme
Rose wine, the wine of the region
Ambiance, we loved this little winding street off the main drag in Cannes
Fois gras (my favorite new thing I tried)
Dinner, Cannes style (note the snazzy duds)
steak and mushroom sauce (Rob’s favorite thing he ate)
trois fruits de mer
Monaco’s finest (Rob says it tastes like Bud Light)
Super thin crust pizza, spicy salami and trois fromageCoca-cola
Then I lost steam and forgot to take pictures of any desert ever and of the crepes, oh the crepes they are amazing.

We’re Back

Actually we’ve been back. But remember how I decided to vacation in the middle of my finals – yeah, so I went to my last class, turned in one paper, and came down with shingles (yuck). Then Mom and Chip came for the weekend. I am now (at this very moment) taking a break from editing that last paper (which was due yesterday) to give you a preview of our trip to the Cote d’Azur. Oh, how I wish I were still there.

Enjoy these pics and more to come soon. Promise!