Published: July 4th 2012July 4th 2012
Today we tried to get an early start so that we could go to Monaco, Grasse (the perfume capital of the world) and then head to Antibes to the beach. One thing we've learned on our trip is that getting somewhere usually takes twice as long as you think.
We left Aix around 9:30 am and headed to Monaco, the furthest point on our list of places to go. I have always wanted to see Monaco. I love the glamour of Monte Carlo in Casino Royale, the James Bond movie, and the girls and I recently rented the Monte Carlo movie with Selena Gomez. So we thought we could take a quick stroll around town and see it for ourselves.
Well, we never made it to see Monte Carlo and the casino. We walked from what seemed like the highest point in Monaco, down to the bottom of "La Roche" (the rock) that the Royal Palace is built on. Then followed a wide ramp up and around to the palace. It was hot and super humid so the climb seemed really stenuous. I never knew that Monaco is built into the face of a mountain and that a lot
One of the many staircases in Monaco
(and I mean a lot) of stairs are required to get north and south in town. Of course we parked our car at the most northern (highest) part of town and most of the sites in Monaco Ville are at the bottom of the town. We really got a work-out today!
The Royal Palace is very different from what I imagined. The ramp up to the palace looks medieval but the palace looks new and modern compared to many of the palace and castles in Europe. Parts of town look too perfect, like something out of Disneyland, but still very beautiful and unique. All of the police men we saw in Monaco were young, fit and very handsome, especially in their white uniforms.
The square in front of the palace is very touristy and crowded so we took a quick look around. We found a nice Italian restaurant a block away from La Roche and had a great lunch. We felt it was ok to eat in an Italian restaurant in Monaco since we are right on the border with Italy and the restaurant was definitely run by Italians.
Stamps from Monaco are supposed to be highly
prized so we thought it would be fun to mail a few postcards from the Monaco Post Office. It was so easy to buy stamps in Monaco that I wished that I had bought some extra stamps for my stamp collection! We even received some Monaco Euro coins back as change which are also quite rare.
After huffing and puffing back to the car we headed to Grasse to visit the Fragonard Perfume factory and International Museum of Perfume. The navigation system calculated that it would take 1 hour, but in reality it took us 2 hours to go about 40 miles. We missed the last English tour by about 15 minutes so were very disappointed, as well as grumpy from the long car ride. Larry has been doing a get job driving us around France with all of the narrow, winding roads, round-abouts, and crazy drivers. It took us so long to get to Grasse because we hit a lot of traffic in Nice. Right now, our feelings regarding Nice are not very nice! The Fragonard perfume shop made us all feel better since they had such beautiful items and wonderful scents for sale. Genevieve and Madeleine each
picked out a perfume to take home.
We decided that we didn't have time to go to Antibes to the beach since it was already 6:30 in the evening. So, the beach is on the agenda for tomorrow. We'll probably go to the beach in the morning and do some shopping in Aix in the afternoon. We haven't really purchased any items in Provence, except for some lavender items from the Abbeye and the Lavender Museum and we haven't had a chance to go to Monoprix, the French version of Target. Genevieve and I are dying to go there to see what they have!
There are more photos below