Today’s original plan was to take the 10 minute train ride from Menton to Monte Carlo, tour the morning and then carry on to Nice for the night. We reversed that plan after a little online research told us there is no baggage storage at the train station in Monte Carlo. So we went straight to Nice, found our hostel, stashed our bags and walked to the bus station for the 45 minute ride back to Monte Carlo. On the walk to the bus in Nice, we passed a few notable landmarks (see the photos) and got our first glimpse the elegant grandeur of this Mediterranean architecture.
We arrived in Monaco, the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican, at 11 am. Hungry after already walking for nearly 2 hours, the first restaurant we came to was Planet Sushi… I was so happy to finally have a gluten free meal. Really good sushi… totally satisfying…. ready now to see the sights of old Monacoville.
We strolled along Montecarlo harbour admiring the many yachts… the smallest of which would cost an arm and a leg… saw people swimming, and the beautiful facade of the Oceanographic Museum, until we came to the elevator that lifts you to the high plateau of Monacoville. The option of climbing the stairs was rejected since the sun was out in full force today. At the top, we strolled through the Jardin du St. Martin. The coolness of the trees’ shade allowed us time to admire the flowers and lovely statuary and spectacular views across the sea.
Next we visited Saint Nicholas Cathedral (where Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly were married in the 50’s). Not huge by Cathedral standards and quite dark and refreshingly cool with gorgeous (relatively small) stained glass windows and exquisite statuary. No frescoes but a breathtaking mosaic of Mary in the dome with the gold pieces shimmering brilliantly. Of special note are the tombs of Rainier and Kelly. Tourists were eagerly crowding that space for a photo.
Next, we passed through the souvenir district (not historical, of course, but amusing just the same) until we came to the palace of the prince of Monaco, Prince Albert the 2nd (son of Rainier and Kelly). The palace itself is big but not outrageous and not as interesting photogenically as the guards pacing back and forth in front of it.
By 3 pm, we were on the bus back to Nice, ogling at the incredible vistas along the way…sheer drops above blue-green harbours, dotted with yachts at anchor and ringed with colorful stuco-sided mansions. This French Riviera coastline is mile after mile of wealth and expense… or so it seemed to me. I can admire it but can’t really appreciate it.
For the next 2 hours, we strolled through the main arteries of Nice to the train station to get our tickets out for the next morning. Along the way, we had fun people watching on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Thousands were out enjoyingg the sun in the gardens and promenades of Nice. A highlight and complete surprise for me was the Bascilique de Notre Dame… with its deeply colored stained glass windows… perhaps some of the prettiest I have ever seen.
Back to our hostel for some blog-time and to cool off our hot feet. We only ventured out once more to stroll the 1 block down to the beach to see the sun set. Monica dipped her feet into the sea… she said it was cold… I didn’t try. The night sky was a flaming salmon color over the promenade hotels… Ryan had coined it a “wine sky” when we were in Florence. I think he named it appropriately.