Driving in our little village is . . . interesting. We walk down, down, down to where they keep the car. We have a pretty big SUV as there are four of us, and we’ll have a load of luggage when we travel to Provence, then back again to Nice. These roads are happier with scooters and minis.
There are round-abouts and strange angles and intersections with cars pointed nose-to-nose. BW gets us through it, and we have the Navigation–with her classy Brit accent–set for Monaco.
It’s a windy route, the cliffs on one side, the sea on the other, and cars and scooters zooming. Until they don’t. Traffic jam as two lanes go into one. It’s only about ten kilometers, but it takes awhile with the switchbacking and the traffic. Then there’s Monaco, hilly and charming with its softly colored buildings–creams and ecrus, pale roses and yellows. An odd and somewhat elegant mix of old and new with the lovely lines and curves of older buildings and the high-rise (gotta go up as it’s a tiny country) flats. So many balconies, and most with the lacy iron rails that remind me of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The fabulous marina with its city of white boats.
We make a wrong turn, end up at the docks where the biggest private yacht I’ve ever seen is prepping to leave. It’s nearly cruise ship size. I’d want to be on it in the event of a zombie apocalypse as I suspect you could live comfortably at sea for a couple years until things sorted out.
We look for parking–all of which is underground, and plentiful. But it’s finding the right lot for our walk to the palace. And traffic is amazing. Our Nav is directing us to a lot, but how could she know that lot was FERME? You can’t blame her. We wind and loop and find another.
Then the adventure truly begins. These multi-level underground lots are designed for toy cars. I’m talking Matchbox. Narrow, skinny, sharp turns, down, down–and the tires makes this hideous noise. Like fingers rubbed hard on an inflated balloon. Cars are jammed into tiny spaces angled so sharply it’s a wonder anything can maneuver into them. And we’re in a big boy. We try for one–soon realize it’s just not possible. Physics and geometry are real.
Down, and down those skinny turns. All the way to minus four. Jason gets out, does a scouting mission on foot. Finds one. But no. While BW–who is steering and slithering through this labyrinth–manages to get into the space–with Jason helping him navigate–our ass-end is poking way out.
Try again. Wind, wind, and finally manage to get our big guy into a space. But it’s so tight I have to get out first, then after easing it in, BW has to climb over the seat to get out the passenger door.
But it’s parked. One hour after heading into the lot. Kudos to BW.
We find our way up–after taking a picture of our parking space number, just in case.
Ah, fresh air. Lovely, lovely, breezy air. Palm trees and flowers and blue, blue water.
A pedestrian area, also lovely. Pretty little shops and restaurants, and no cars! We stretch our legs, do a little shopping, stroll. BW finds a liquor store–and the man deserves a vodka tonic tonight after this driving feat. He and Kat go in–to what turns out to be the oldest wine store in Monaco. They bring photos of the gorgeous interior, the friendly shop keeper. Jason and I have wandered down, found a restaurant for lunch. Italian, busy, lots of outdoor tables. There’s a small park directly across, with a sign letting us know Princess Grace cut the ceremonial ribbon to open it.
Pretty flowers and shrubs, a bandstand. A large statue of a mermaid with a long, serpentine tail who appears to be singing to a mannish lion who wears armor.
Maybe a local legend. Or a mashup of Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid.
We’re hungry! Settle at a table by a fountain. Our waiter’s charming and funny and the pasta’s terrific. Refreshed and fed, we’re ready for the climb to the palace high above the city.
Jason volunteers to take our bags back to the car first, and because we didn’t know what we assumed was the walkway across was FERME to pedestrians, we lose him. Texts back and forth working out a new meeting spot. Technology is great when it works. There he is! Here we are, and now we’re all together for the steep, long climb.
Steps, steps and more steps. Gardens and trees, views of the marina. And steps. I should have the legs of a teenager after all this. If only.
The climb’s worth it. The palace and its plaza are beautiful. Soft, creamy colors, elegant lines against sections of gray stone. Not fussy, just lovely. But lines of cannons let you know it can serve as a fortress on its high perch over city and sea. Throngs of tourists. We opt out of the tour of the interior. The views are magnificent enough.
I like watching the palace guard, splendid in white, march back and forth or stand soberly in front of his guard house.
We buy a few souvenirs, wander and stroll, wander more and find narrow streets lined with shops, the buildings high and tight and beautiful. And ah, gelato. I believe we will.
Wander and poke. Lots of people leading dogs. Lots of languages bouncing in the air. I don’t need another scarf, but I spot one that’s irresistible, and now I have a momenta of Monaco.
We find the cathedral–more magnificence–and go inside. I realize I’m walking down the same aisle Grace Kelly walked on her wedding day. She and her prince are buried here, behind the great altar where they exchanged their vows.
Now we go down, down, down, steps and ramps–shady benches tucked in corners–and work our way back to the garage.
It’s easier getting out then getting in, but still no easy feat. And since none of us want to face another parking garage, we eliminate visiting the casino. We still have that drive back–and the trick of getting the car dropped off. Again easier then the outward bound, but no snap.
Now it’s more climbing. Up and up to the hotel. We left Eze about eleven. We get back to our room about six. That’s a good day’s adventure.
Time for a well-earned drink.
Dinner at eight, and we go for Italian again–it’s easy, close and we know the food’s good. We have an outdoor table, I have a glass of red. There’s a handsome dog under the table across the brick path, and people passing by on their way up or down.
Then some rain drops. Unexpected. The waitress directs us inside.
It’s like a cave, but in a really good way. Stone walls, curved stone ceiling, little niches with lights or odd art. Glorious scents. Tables crowded in together, and the kitchen in view down at the end of the cave. Fresh salads, fresh pasta, fun companions and conversation, friendly service. That’s a good end to a good day. Especially when you add one more gelato. I get a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of vanilla. Two gelatos in one day! I need to keep climbing steps.
Definitely ready for bed!
Today we leave Eze for Provence. It’s been a wonderful stay, and I’ll miss the view off our terrace and the cheerful staff of the hotel, the equally cheerful shopkeepers and waitstaffs. I’ve loved this slice of France.
Gotta workout, and pack it up.
From Laura: #randomkatness (it’s a thing). Today we have two.