So another highlight of our Disney Cruise was the opportunity to visit Monaco. The Disney Magic docked close to the beautiful French town of Villefranche-sur-Mer (left – definitely worth exploring if you ever get the opportunity), and from there it was an easy and inexpensive train ride to Monaco-Monte Carlo.
The first time I visited Monaco was with my mum and sister, years ago; and a few years ago, after I’d been made redundant, I took No 1 Son there for one of our favourite holidays ever – it was the end of the summer, the beaches were deserted, bliss. Of course if you’re travelling with boys then they’ll love the Monaco Vintage Car Museum and all the Ferraris you see driving around (Lewis Hamilton lives here).
But this time I was travelling with Harriet, my niece, which meant we could do girly stuff, like look round the palace (you’re not allowed to take photos inside, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. SO pretty. Remember The Princess Diaries? Like the palace in that.) And since everyone we spoke to refused to speak English, it was also an opportunity to use my very rusty French *cough*.
And then after learning so much about the Royal Family, past and present, Harriet wanted to see Princess Grace’s grave, which is in St Nicholas Cathedral, next to her husband’s.
Afterwards we walked back down the hill to the quay (quai), which is completely charming. Monaco Tourism had very kindly arranged for us to have lunch at Stars ‘N’ Bars, which is where many of the F1 drivers hang out during the Monaco Grand Prix; everyone from the Spice Girls to Sharon Stone has been there, and the food is fabulous.
This was our view (left).
And having consumed so many calories at lunch we decided to walk up the hill, past all the yachts, to the spectacular Monte Carlo Casino (above). It’s around here you can almost see money on the streets – so many sports cars, and designer shops, and luxury hotels. It’s a world seemingly unaffected by recession, or any kind of hardship; it’s very alluring.
We both completely fell for this fabulous red Dior coat. Isn’t it gorgeous? Hey, a girl can dream.
The beauty of Monte Carlo and Monaco is that it’s completely safe to walk around, it’s spotlessly clean (not in a clinical way), and it just oozes glamour. The apartments and houses are achingly chic, and Harriet and I had great fun playing the ‘I’d like to live there’ game.
I can completely see why the then Grace Kelly fell in love with the place all those years ago (and really, who wouldn’t want their own palace to play with if it was offered to them?). Even the market is stylish *sobs*. And look at the little floor tiles! On the street!
I don’t have any desire to be a tax exile, but the lifestyle – sun, yachts, fabulous restaurants, low crime, shopping – definitely appeals. Unfortunately, given the scarcity of eligible royalty, I’d need to marry a footballer to afford to live there. Comme ci, comme ca, or something.