Road Trip: Nice, France and Monte Carlo, Monaco

Karie on Dec 20th 2007 08:27 pm

The road trip continues as we head for the French Riviera, stopping in Nice for a couple of nights. “Côte d’Azur” (the blue coast), as they call it, is exactly what you see in the movies. Sand, crystal blue waters, and luxury cars as far as the eye can see.

From Nice, you can catch a 20-minute train to Monaco, which is one of the most unique places I’ve ever seen.  With roughly 32,000 residents, Monaco is the world’s 2nd smallest independent nation (following Vatican City)… and definitely among the wealthiest.  Walking through the casino in Monte Carlo makes the high rollers in Vegas look like amateurs.

We spent the first half of the day browsing through a Christmas market along the harbor.  There were vendors selling specialty gifts and food.  And of course, no sidewalk market on the sunny blue coast would be complete without a man-made winter wonderland for children, including ice skating, snow showing, skiing, snowmobiling, and a Christmas train.  It was possibly better than actually going to the snow.

From there, we walked along the Mediterranean, with yachts to the right and designer boutiques to the left, as we approached the infamous casino.  The front was lined with Ferraris, Bentleys, and an occasional Smart Car for the “green” millionaires.  Even the taxis are Mercedes.

After gawking at the opulence from every angle of the outside, we sucked it up and paid the 10 Euros each to go inside.  Unfortunately no cameras were allowed.  The inside was as ornate as any palace or cathedral we’ve seen in Europe.

I expected it to feel a bit like Vegas, with the noise of slot machines, ringing bells, loud chatter… Nope.  It was very quiet and subdued.  Just extremely wealthy men (mostly), complete with a few bad comb-overs, playing table games I didn’t understand.

It was still early, so there weren’t many people there.  In fact, we were the only ones in the slot machine room when I decided to kiss 5 Euro goodbye and consider it the cost of my brief entertainment.  Imagine my bliss when I turned 5 Euro into 9.35!   My profits covered half my entry fee, so I was pleased.

Then dad decided to give it a go at the roulette table.  He laid 10 Euro down on the first bet, lost it, and walked away.  But now we can say we’ve done it!

Our evenings were spent wandering through Old Town Nice, enjoying the good food, shopping, and soaking up the Christmas spirit.

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