I can only apologise that I wrote my last post, M1626 – Winning Formula, about the first half of my day spent in Monaco so long ago, and it’s only now nearly a week after the cruise finished that I am getting around to completing the blogs for the cruise.
It was a combination of little free time on board and the painfully slow WiFi that deterred me from writing more until I got back, but since then I seem to have been quite busy sorting the laundry and 3000 or so photographs from the cruise, and also with preparations for my next cruise – but don’t panic, that is not until next year!
Anyway back to the second half of my day in Monaco. You may remember I spent the morning walking around the Principality, and after lunch on board ship it was time for my afternoon coach tour along the French Riviera. This time our ‘local’ guide was an English man, a horticulturist who many years did a job exchange to the area and never returned. Not only was he easy to understand, his extensive plant knowledge went down very well with the gardeners on board the coach.
You may remember that in Sète there was a problem with the P.A. system on the coach there – I thought lightening was going to strike twice as this time the P.A. system did not work at all. However the guide and coach driver handled things very well, the guide moving to the centre of the coach and speaking loudly while the driver got on his phone and arranged for a replacement microphone to be sent out to the location of our first photo stop.
Leaving the harbour, the coach drove through the streets of Monaco climbing all the while, rising to the Grand Corniche. On the way we had great views of Monaco, and as we did so our guide told us about the tiny size of the Principality and because of this the eye-watering prices that property commands there. He also told us that there are some apartments that span the border, so that say the bedroom might be in Monaco but the bathroom in France, and we joked about the problems of going through customs every time the resident wanted to spend a penny!
On reaching the Grand Corniche we stopped for that first photo stop, and while the coach P.A. system was repaired we enjoyed the amazing views along the coast and down to the Principality below:
With the P.A. system back in working order, we then used the Middle Corniche to take a scenic drive west along the French Riviera. After a while we reached the village of Eze, dominated by a rocky outcrop 425 metres above the sea. Here we stopped for around 35 minutes, and while there were some shops and views to be seen on the same low level as the car park, I was of course drawn to explore as high as I could up the rocky outcrop. The guide said that the church part way up was worth viewing, so that was my first target, passing a dramatic statue on the way:
As there was still time I carried on up the hill, and after passing some shops and restaurants it became clear that to reach the summit I had to pay to enter a tropical garden. I’m not sure if I can claim the record for the shortest visit to the garden, but I zoomed in and out taking some quick pictures of the fabulous views and of the cactus plants on the way:
Walking briskly back down the steep hillside I made it back to the coach in time, and soon we continued along the Middle Corniche towards the city of Nice. This city is the fifth most populated in France, and is one of the most visited locations in the country, having the second highest hotel capacity and third busiest airport. Our guide pointed out that you could fit the whole of Monaco inside the outer limits of Nice airport!
Nice was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks, and in the 7th century it joined the Genoese League and throughout the middle ages it was very much a part of Italian history. Later it changed hands several times, including being a part of France between 1792 and 1815 before returning to Italian control. However in 1860 the Treaty of Turin ceded Nice to France as a territorial reward for the French assistance in the Second Italian War of Independence against Austria, and it has remained French ever since.
The natural beauty and mild Mediterranean climate of the area came to the attention of the English upper classes in the second half of the 18th century. The city’s main seaside promenade, known as the Promenade des Anglais (“Walkway of the English’), takes it’s name from the English aristocracy who spend their winters in Nice and who liked to walk the promenade.
Our tour took us into the city and along the Promenade des Anglais, although the heavy traffic did make our progress rather slow. We passed a war memorial, and perhaps even more poignantly a bandstand festooned in tributes to those that were tragically killed and injured in the recent terrorist attack on the Promenade on Bastille Day:
As we finally made our way though all the traffic and back out of the city, our guide asked the driver to make a brief unplanned stop at a viewpoint overlooking the city as a thank you for our patience while the microphone was fixed:
We returned to Monaco using the Lower Corniche, passing through a number of villages on the coast on the way. However by now dusk was setting in, making photography from the coach window even more of a challenge:
By the time we returned to our waiting ship it was almost dark, and just in time as we set sail half an hour later for our next port. There was just time to capture some last images of the Principality in the gathering darkness:
Perhaps I was a little put off by the traffic in Nice, but overall my impression was that it was a nice tour rather than an outstanding tour that we made during the afternoon. However I did very much enjoy my walk around the Principality in the morning, and very much appreciated visiting a new and interesting port of call.