April 25, 2015 - Monaco & St. Paul de Vence
If I bring an umbrella or rain jacket with me to port, it won't rain. If I don't...it rains!
We had a short stop in Monaco today and we had to tender. We've been to Monaco before and seen a lot of the local sites and the palace so we decided to take the ship's tour to St. Paul de Vence. Today was our last port stop on the cruise.
We met our tour group, got the tender and were on our way. Our friends Karen and Paul were also on the tour.
Our guide, Michel, was great and shared a lot of information about the Côte d'Azur, Monaco, art and Princess Grace. We drove past the place where Princess Grace died - she had a stroke while driving and her vehicle went of the side of a cliff. She was taken off life support the next day.
Grace Kelly introduced Monaco to the rest of the world - most importantly to the rich and famous. The union between her and Prince Rainier was totally orchestrated by Aristotle Onassis who had business interests in the Monte Carlo casino and the development of Monaco. He wanted to get the rich and famous to Monaco and he knew an American movie star would do just that. His first choice for a bride was Marilyn Monroe, but Prince Rainier didn't think that would fly with the strong Catholic folks of Monaco. Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier at the 1955 Cannes film festival. He was not an easy man to get along with but she said she learned to love him. The people of Monaco loved her. She learned their language and was completely involved with the community. Our guide met Princess Grace three times and said she was stunning, gracious and down to earth. There seem to be quite a few illegitimate children in the Grimadli family.
On our way to St. Paul de Vence we drove by Eze and through Nice. We saw Sasha Sosno's square head building in Nice which is where the library staff work. There is a marathon in Nice tomorrow so you can see preparations. We also saw Prince Albert's private jet parking garage. There are a lot of perfume factories in Provence. We drove by the most expensive villa - it's for sale for €420 million.
Our guide also met Chagall when he was touring some children through a museum. The then old man stopped and asked the children for their thoughts about his work. Some of them didn't understand it and he said - Artists don't need to copy reality. Artists need to bring dreams to people.
By the time we arrived in St. Paul de Vence it was raining pretty hard. Not a down pour but more than a sprinkle. We decided to buy expensive (€15.50) but cheap umbrellas. We used them for a bit and then it stopped raining.
St. Paul de Vence is spectacular. It is another charming hillside town with quaint, narrow cobblestone streets (that are very slippery when wet!), lots of art and interesting shops. We were left to explore on our own for a couple hours. We visited the very picturesque graveyard and saw Chagall's tomb. Many artists (Picasso, Chagall, Matisse) hung out in St.Paul de Vence. We went to the church and poked around the shops. Before we had to head back to the bus we had a warm drink and snack with Paul and Karen.
The drive through the Cote d'Azur is stunning. There are three levels of corniche (road on the side of cliff/mountain). Many famous people own homes and property here. I can't blame them - I would too if I had money!
Back in Monaco, they are setting up for the Grand Prix. It takes them 3 months to set up and 2 months to take it down. Last time we were here the Historic Grand Prix (it's only every two years) was on and there were a lot of barricades up.
All the buses seem to arrive back to Monaco at the same time and the line up for the tenders was insanely long. Here's a shaky video. We stood above on kind of a breakwater area and waited. We learned that the Seaborne ship was leaving right at the busy tender time for us. When there is a ship leaving there can't be any other sea traffic (like our tender boats) for 30 minutes. It really backed everything up. Our captain was not happy and as an apology, we all got free champagne with dinner.
When we got back to our room the luggage mats were on our bed. That means we have to pack. Boo! Here is a video of what was waiting for us. We decided to move the mats out of the way and had a nap instead.
After the nap I decided to start packing. Somehow I have too much stuff.
We had a really lovely last dinner of the cruise at the Pinnacle Grill with Karen and Paul. It was a fabulous way to end an amazing 21 day voyage.
When we came back from dinner we were greeted with the sad sight of suitcases lining the hall. You have to put your packed luggage in the hall by midnight for disembarking the next morning. It always signifies the end of a voyage. A fabulous voyage I might add. At least we have two more days in Barcelona.
Mini Maurice (pictured below) is the little sock monkey who travels with me. Here is a video of his adventure.