Monaco (Monte Carlo) & France(Part 4/5) – Nice
19th May 2007
I set the alarm for 6am but never heard it. It’s the first time ever that this has happened. I must have been really tired to not hear that alarm. My English friends who I had met going to Cannes had told me that there could be a chance that the Monaco Grand Prix was on. That would have been another great surprise if the Cannes Film festival wasn’t enough.
Preparation for the Grand Prix was well under way in Monaco. The Grand Prix is on the following so all the chicanes, seating and tyre barricades were being assembled ready for the big event. I had didn’t have a map of Monaco on me so I just wandered around blindly as usual but I did eventually get to where I wanted to go and that was to the Prince’s Palace.
All homes and apartments are built on hills so the higher up you are the better the view but it comes with the price of hiking up and down the hills which will require some effort. That’s why Monaco has public escalators that are spread across the city to help you climb those hills without a sweat. Some escalators run for 24hrs while others until midnight.
So I started from the train station which is pretty high up itself and I began to walk down to the marina. The sun was burning and yes I had no sunscreen on so now I am suffering as a consequence. I’m red as a tomato and hope I don’t itch and peel too much which would be a disaster.
I wandered around the coastline before managing to find the museum which I then climbed with the escalator before reaching the aquarium which looked more like a museum building then stumbling across a lovely garden with some beautiful views and then found myself at the Prince’s palace heavily fortified by hundreds of tourists. There are some nice shady areas around the palace which you can take advantage of. You can eat some ice cream under the shade and look across the balcony or lookout and see the entire city of Monte Carlo. What a sight!
Monaco would be my favorite place in the region of the Cote D’Azur closely behind Cassis and then Nice. I didn’t go to Monte Carlo beach but there are areas just out of the marina where you can sun bake on large steps which go into the sea. The gardens in Monaco are small but it’s the views from these gardens which is exceptional, perfect for a picnic. On popular touristy routes or areas there are some handy cafes where you can stock up some water or grab an ice cream to cool down from the heat.
Before fleeing back to explore Nice I watched the changing of the guards at the palace. It was a very prestigious event which takes place at 11.55am every day. The ceremony is well executed and it’s very popular with the tourist. I think it’s unlucky for the short people as they tend to be at the back and can’t see over the people at the front. Lucky I don’t fall into that category. I waited in the shade until it was time then wandered over.
The city of Nice is currently undergoing heavy construction to build a tram network. Your best form of transport is to take a bus or like me go on foot. I think Nice is more of a base to travel to Cannes and Monaco as it would be a lot cheaper accommodation wise. To get to Monaco is about 15minutes from Nice and to Cannes it takes about 25minutes. There really isn’t that much going on in Nice unless you go down by the beach. It is a great place to sun bake and enjoy a swim but other than that there is just the shopping that might attract the tourist.
The beaches in Nice are for public use and also private use where by you pay X amount of money to get a sun bed and umbrella or perhaps someone to look after your belongings. The activities you can do on the beach and around the beach include roller-blading, roller-skating or even parasailing. The water to me still looks rather cold; no wonder more people were baking in the sun rather than being in the water.
My favorite place in Nice is definitely the Parc Du Chateau. It is a garden and park which is down the end of the beach and can be accessed by walking up a flight of stairs or by taking a lift costing 0.80 Euro. The garden itself is very large with a café at the very top and cafes throughout the area. Every corner of the park there are different views of the city, beach and also the marina. It is one of my favorite views of a city to date, truly amazing.
I think I took photos at every view point and lookout because I just didn’t want to miss out on any. If you don’t like the sun and being on the beach baking then this garden is definitely the place to be. You can relax in the shade and ponder about your life or other imaginative things; you can have a picnic or even read a book under a tree and occasionally remind yourself to look up to see the splendid view of Nice. You could spend a whole day here if everyday was anything like today, true French Riviera weather.
It would be a shame if you took the lift up to the top of the park. I think it should only be for disabled people, elderly people and parents with prams. Save 0.80 Euro and walk up to the top as it is a worthwhile experience. It doesn’t take very long to reach the top and once you do reach it the reward is excellent views of Nice. That’s basically all I did in Nice and before I knew it, it was time to head back to catch the train back into Paris.
Unfortunately I caught the wrong train and after cross checking with another American girl the train had already left and basically I was in someone else’s seat and it was a matter of time before I was going to get kicked out of it. The train was indeed going to Paris but it wasn’t going through Marseille which was printed on my ticket. My Paris train was connecting up at Marseille before heading to Paris which was a detour I didn’t need.
Anyway I got off the wrong train at a station called St Raphael and waited for my correct train to come bound for Marseille. The drama of being on the train that evening didn’t stop there. When I got on the correct train to Marseille someone was sitting on my seat which was a nuisance. Since they were a couple and one was sleeping on the other I was kind enough to just switch seats with him which he thanked me for. I didn’t mind where I sat as long as I had a seat. It was all good until I arrived in Toulon where I found out again that I was sitting in someone else’s seat!
Eventually the guy who had taken my seat was alert so he came around again to my seat and had told me that I was indeed in the wrong seat and he told me to go to the incorrect carriage. I was in carriage 16 instead of carriage 15 which was printed on the ticket. What a bloody hassle! Now I am in the correct seat, going in the right direction, eating skittles, drinking water and that’s really all that mattered.
My connecting train was trouble free, thank goodness for that. It was about a 3hr trip back into Paris from Marseille and being so tired at this stage, I was drifting in and out of sleep. My arms are glowing red and parts of my face are as well. It’s been about 4 months since I was last burn this badly. Note to self: Remember the sunscreen mate.