Thursday, August 18, 2011

Only in Monte Carlo...

Monte Carlo, Monaco and St Paul de Vence, France

The main harbor, Monte Carlo
The back of the Monte Carlo Casino
A week ago, Josh and I took a road trip down to the Mediterranean coast and stayed in Monte Carlo for a long weekend. The city is one of three in the country of Monaco (although, it seems more like a province of France than a country). Monte Carlo is just as ritzy and glamorous as it is in the movies. We expected Robin Leach to narrate as we went, "And in this harbor, only the wealthiest people in the world are able to dock their multi-billion dollar yachts and party until the sun comes up. Anything goes in Monte Carlo if you have the money." The cars were ridiculous! On Sunday alone we counted 20 Ferrari's driving around town (and no... it wasn't the same person making loops). The sheer amount of money in this city blows my mind! I think it's safe to say that the financial crisis has not affected Monaco. I felt very safe in this city. There were a lot of families enjoying their holiday, and police officers were on almost every block. The police are very strict about parking and general public behavior which is why they were out in full force at all times.

One of the beautiful cars outside of the casino

this was next to the Mercedes

What surprised me about Monte Carlo was how many Russians were there. Apparently, the wealthy Russians come to Monaco on their summer holiday. At our hotel alone, I would bet that 85-90% of the guests staying there were Russian. They are VERY wealthy and like to show it off. Getting into the elevator one gentleman was returning from a shopping spree with his little girl (she couldn't have been older than 6), and his hands were full of shopping bags from Baby Dior. I didn't even know Dior had a baby store! There were also kids wearing Dolce and Gabbana swim suits, and of course the adults were dressed to impress. I felt a little underdressed at the pool and that was crazy to me. After all, we are there to swim, get tan, and relax. Apparently I missed the memo that you have to wear super tall designer shoes, designer swimsuits, and wear makeup to the pool. I'm pretty sure there were a few people at the pool that were only there to be seen. There was great people watching, that is for sure!

Lamborghini outside of our hotel
This sounds pretentious, but everyone just wanted to enjoy their holiday and minded their own business. They didn't look down on me because I was wearing a swimsuit from Etam, and they didn't care that we were wearing flip flops.
main entrance to the casino

Walking around the city was fun- it is very picturesque with the mountains behind the city, and the Mediterranean on the front side. Docked in the bay were crazy yachts in all shapes, but most of them were BIG. There was a promenade where you could walk down the row of yachts and look at them. On one side of the promenade were the amazing ships, and on the other side was the parking for the owners of the ships... mainly Bentleys, Rolls Royce and Ferraris. A lot of the owners were partying on their boats, or sitting on a couch enjoying a cocktail. Since we were right next to the yachts, people took full advantage of being able to see the interior details of the ships. Many of the yachts had the ship entrance roped off with a sign "Private Property" (maybe some people would try to board?).

the famous Hotel de Paris

When we were there we ate lots of seafood! Being on the Mediterranean, how could I pass that up?? When you plan a trip to Monte Carlo, definitely plan for a LARGE food budget. One of the smaller bills we had was breakfast- one cappuccino, one espresso, a sandwich and crepe= 23 euros. How is that possible? In Italy we can get two coffees and two pastries for less than 5 euros... Yikes! I won't even tell you how much our dinner bills were. The food was great though at the restaurants we visited- a seafood place and a Mexican restaurant. I guess they have to keep prices high so the rich feel that they are in an exclusive place ;)

Cat in St Paul de Vence, there were a lot of cats!

We also walked up to the Monte Carlo casino and decided not to go in... Apparently you have to pay to enter the casino (10 euros to see only two rooms). Maybe if you are a high roller you get to see more of the famous historic building? It didn't seem that exciting, so we passed on that. Across the street from the casino is the famous Hotel Paris. When we arrived police had blocked off the street and people were lined up looking at the cars arriving at the hotel. There was even a camera crew. We asked what was happening, but no one knew. We stayed for a while and hoped to see someone famous, but to no avail. On the bright side though, we were able to see plenty of Ferraris, Rolls Royces and Bentleys. So many that when a BMW drove by, it looked like a shabby car!! Only in Monte Carlo...

St Paul de Vence
On Saturday we took a day trip to a small medieval city in France called Saint Paul de Vence (less than an hour drive from Monaco). It is like a hill top town in Italy, and since we love medieval cities we were excited to see it. When we arrived, at first glance the city lived up to our expectations, but after some time walking around and seeing the city we were bored. The city is beautiful and very charming, but the main attraction is the art. There are art shops lining all of the streets, and they are full of contemporary pieces. Josh and I aren't contemporary art fans, so we walked around for a bit, grabbed some dinner (actually the best pizza I've had since I moved to Italy- and it was in France!), and then went back to Monte Carlo. It was great to see the city, but it really made us appreciate the medieval towns in Italy. There just isn't a comparison! There wasn't much to do in this town.

Owling in St Paul de Vence
Our view from dinner

The main thing on the agenda this weekend was lying out in the sun and getting tan. And we were able to do that! Josh even taught me how to play chess at the huge chess board by the pool. On the way home Monday we stopped at the designer outlets near Genoa that everyone has told us about. It was definitely worth the stop!! At Intimissimi (one of my favorite stores) I was able to get three t-shirts, one night shirt and two new bras for only 22 euros! I’m pretty sure we’ll be going back there especially since there are outlets for United Colors of Benetton, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana and Ferragamo. J
our spot at the pool

Some random facts about Monte Carlo:
  • The casino was used in three James Bond films: Never Say Never Again, Golden Eye, and Casino Royale
  • The city is only 3 kilometers long (less than two miles)
  • The Grimaldi family is the longest ruling royal family in Europe (it has ruled Monaco since 1297 when they first seized the rock with the Monaco fortress)
  • Rosé wines are very good in this area. Previously I was not a fan of Rosé, but after this trip I am a big fan!

No comments:

Post a Comment