Sunday, April 23, 2017

After exploring the Italian Riviera it was time to dive into the French side, but first we stopped to check out the micro-nation of Monaco!

Fancy Monaco plate on a fancy car.
We got lost a million times trying to find somewhere to park and then figure out how to get up to the old town, but thankfully eventually we found the long ramped walkway up to Monaco-Ville.
Built in BFFs.
Rick Steves patronizingly criticizes Monaco for having a "Disneyesque" vibe. However, we are HUGE Disney fans, so we found that a definite pro instead of con! So enchanting, magical, pastel, clean, neat, and tidy!
Statues along the walk.
Emerging into Palace Square. | Flowers.
At the top of Monaco-Ville (the old town portion of Monaco), is the Palais Princier - the residence of Prince Albert, the ruler of Monaco. In medieval times there was a castle here that helped protect the country, but it has been upgraded into something a little more comfortable.
This portion of Monaco high up on the rock with the castle gave birth to this principality in 1215 and it's managed to remain an independent country for most of its 800 years. Monaco-ville was the fortified stronghold that withstood invaders and attackers over the centuries. 
There are great views over the principality from up here. In this picture you can see them setting up the track for the famous Grand Prix and the casino that put Monaco on the map: Monte Carlo.
Chris and the kids. I miss having a stroller to prop up the camera for family selfies and I'm too shy to trouble people to ask them to take our photo!
Enjoying the sunshine and the views.
Disneyesque is right! And it's awesome! 
About 30,000 people live in Monaco, two-thirds of whom live here because there is no income tax. Nooice. The remaining 10,000 are the native Monegasques.
Monaco used to be known as a "sunny place for shady people," due to its tax haven status. But Prince Albert has been doing his best to clean up the reputation.
Speaking of the Prince, he walked right by us! By the time I got my camera out he was heading into the palace, but he really did pass right by us with only minimal security around him.
Monaco's royal family is descended directly from François Grimaldi, a renegade Italian who captured Monaco in 1297 and began the dynasty which today has the distinction of being the longest-lasting dynasty in Europe. 
The American movie star Grace Kelly became Princess Grace after she married Prince Rainier, the then ruler of Monaco, in 1956. She first came to Monaco to star in Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 film To Catch a Thief. All around the city are photos of the handsome couple.
They wed here, in the Cathédral de Monaco, which was rebuilt in 1878.
The interior is beautifully lit. 
Past rulers from the dynasty are entombed behind the altar, including Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. 
After leaving the cathedral we dipped into the wonderful and shaded Jardin Botanique. 
These cliffside gardens are an oasis of color and pristinely maintained.
Then we hopped a city bus and rode over to Monte Carlo, Spanish for Charles' Hill, named for the prince who presided over Monaco's 19th century makeover.
This part of the micro-country is home to Europe's most famous casino.
Ferraris, Lambos, Rolls, Bentleys, and more were all parked out front. Swaaaaaaanky.
In the mid-1800s, olive groves stood here. Then, after Monaco lost two-thirds of its territory to France, they were granted the right to build a casino. After the construction of the casino designed by the famous architect Charles Granier, spas, a nice road, and train access, Monaco was on the map as the place for vacationing aristocracy to play. What was once one of Europe's poorest countries now has the highest per-capita income on the continent.
We decided to forgo riding the bus back to our car and strolled down the hill of Monte Carlo towards the harbor.
I don't even know how buildings can be built right on cliff edges!
Peek into the harbor.
Warmth and sunshine = good for the soul. Feeling like we were walking around Disneyland was awesome too!

Since 1929 cars have raced around the port, in front of the casino, and up and down the hills of the country in one of the world's premier auto races - the Grand Prix de Monaco.
Set up was well underway for the race which will be held in May. Just missed it!
Monaco shenanigans:
Our family in Monaco on Monday April 3rd 2017. It was very sunny.
Next: Nice, France!


  1. Beautiful photos! I would love to visit Monaco some day. Love the family pic, it's super cute!!

  2. It's so pretty there! I spent a few hours there as part of an Italy-France trip in high school and this looks just like what I remembered.

  3. What a gorgeous city! How exciting you got to see Prince Albert!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Such a fun family selfie - it makes me feel the warm, sunny day. A HUGE part of Monaco, apparently. :) Was Prince Albert the first European Royalty you've seen in real life on your travels?

    I'm struck by how "new" the paint and plaster seems to be on these buildings as opposed to (for example) the ones you photographed in the lovely set of 5 Italian villages. Probably an interesting cultural difference behind it - but guessing there weren't as many Ferraris, Rolls or Bentleys in those Italian villages either. :D

  5. I follow you on Instagram.... but discovered your blog! Oh my goodness.... I love your travelogues. So happy to have found you! Where will you settle when your husband is discharged from his dental assignment? Do your children speak German?

  6. I follow you on Instagram.... but discovered your blog! Oh my goodness.... I love your travelogues. So happy to have found you! Where will you settle when your husband is discharged from his dental assignment? Do your children speak German?


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