Friday, April 29, 2016

Wandering Around Monaco

As Laura and Jennifer head over to Roquebrune Cap Martin to watch the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, I decide to spend the day walking around Nice and Monaco.  I start by walking up the steps to Castle Hill, Colline du Château in French, about 300 feet above the city, for sweeping panoramic views of Nice and the Baie Des Anges (Bay of Angels).

To the south is the port of Nice, with a small fishing fleet, ferries to Corsica, and the occasional cruise boat.  To the north is the Promenade des Anglais, the famous walkway along the beach with grand hotels facing the Mediterranean, separate lanes for walking, skating, and biking and, of course, the beach.

 Views of Nice from Castle Hill

After walking around on top for a while and admiring the views, I descend, walk along Promenade des Anglais, and cut through the town to the Gare de Nice-Ville, the main train station, where I catch the TER to Monaco.  The Monaco train station is one stop before the Monaco Country Club station where the tennis tournament is being held and just up the hill from the harbor.

I head out of the train station and down to the harbor, but find my way blocked and diverted by the temporary fences, reviewing stand construction and other setup activities for the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix which has been held every May since 1929 (except during the Second World War) and, together with the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, forms the Triple Crown of Motorsport.  The race runs over a narrow course up and down the streets and hills of Monaco, with tight corners and the occasional tunnel.  Apparently, it takes several weeks to set up and tear down for the event, which is about 6 weeks away.

 Setting up for the Grand Prix

 The reviewing stands (and start and finish lines) are being built at the harbor and I tire of working my way around the turmoil and head over to Monaco City, the historical old town city on a bluff extending into the Mediterranean.  Monaco City is one of the four French quarters of Monaco and contains the Prince's Palace, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the Oceanographic Museum, gardens, chapels, and residences on narrow streets packed with tourists.

 View of the port from Monaco City

I purchase a baguette sandwich from a shop in the narrow streets and sit in a park to enjoy my lunch.  However, I have company that wants me to share and I oblige, making a new friend in the process.

Please, sir, may I have some?

The stroll through Monaco City and lunch only take an hour or so and the crowds are large, so I head back down from the Old Town, cross the harbor, and walk up the hill on the other side to the Monte Carlo Casino, which is a large complex with a casino, the Opéra de Monte Carlo and Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.  Parked outside the main entrance to the Casino are race cars for the upcoming Grand Prix.

 On display outside the Casino

Everyone is peering in the cars and taking pictures (as do I).  Then, I decide to get some elevation and walk from the Casino up the hilly, narrow streets for a trek around the modern city.

Modern Monaco on the hill, Monaco City across the harbor

There are stairs everywhere that provide steep short cuts between the streets for those of us on foot.  But, it gets later and I'm now close to the Gare de Monaco-Monte Carlo and head over that way to catch the next train back to Nice.

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