Twelve years ago, after a lot of persuading on my part, we took our first trip down to the South of France. I’d wanted to go there for ages, but hubby was not keen. He thought it would be pretentious and expensive. I finally wore him down (as you do) and we booked a trip to Nice. Since then it’s been virtually impossible to get him to go holiday else. We both loved it from the very first visit.
Until three years ago, we visited at least once a year, basing ourselves in Nice, Cannes or Monte Carlo. We’ve travelled to Antibes, Menton, St. Tropez, Villefranche, Beaulieu Sur Mer and many other places while there. Every place has its own special character, of course, but all are linked by the laid-back lifestyle, stunning azur sea, and the amazing quality of light in this part of the world. No wonder it inspired artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, Monet and Braque.
We’ve spent the last three years looking after guide dog puppies and haven’t really missed our holidays, but this year we felt the call of the Cote d’Azur and booked to take a trip earlier this month. We always take the Eurostar from London to Paris and stay overnight. Then it’s the early train down to Nice, arriving around lunchtime. The train basically travels south from Paris to the coast and turns at Marseille to chug along the fabulous coastline.
Arriving in Nice, we headed for our rental apartment. It’s a beautiful place, situated right on the Promenade des Anglais. It has a gorgeous balcony, perfect for relaxing after a busy day sightseeing. While I love Nice, my favourite place is Monte Carlo. It’s so pristine there, you get the feeling that inadvertently dropping a sweet wrapper would earn you a night in jail! We’ve been lucky enough to spend a couple of Christmas holidays here, and the place is transformed into something very magical. Casino Square is a fascinating place, where we often enjoy coffee (or something sparkling) at the Cafe de Paris while watching the beautiful people, and their cars, pass by on the Square.
For AJ’s sixtieth birthday, we splashed out on a few nights at the Hotel de Paris, next to the Casino, and booked a transfer from the airport by helicopter. It was an amazing experience and a chance to get a really spectacular view of the stunning coastline. During this visit, we took a less exciting mode of transport and visited Fontveille by bus. Fontveille is the youngest of Monaco’s four districts, and was built on reclaimed land in the nineteen sixties to help ease the demand for property. As Monaco is little more than a mile from end to end, it is no wonder that property is very expensive here. In the photo below, if you look really closely you can just glimpse the edge of the Prince’s Palace through the trees in the upper left.
The Casino Square is undergoing some renovation at the moment which has necessitated temporary removal of many of the exotic plants and trees. Some of the designer boutiques have also been relocated and housed in ‘igloo’ type buildings. It’s one of those love it or hate it things, and although the ‘igloos’ are pretty stunning, we mourn the loss of the fabulous vista the gardens provided down to the Square. Progress at a price, I suppose, but it’s good to know that it’s only temporary and the gardens will be restored in 2018 and the igloos deconstructed. It’s also good to know that even somewhere as fabulous as Monte Carlo doesn’t always get it right.
It was a great holiday, and we’re really glad we went. But it’s nice to be home, and always lovely to welcome our next puppy lodger. Happy days!