Monday, April 29, 2013

French Riviera (and Monaco)

After Barcelona, we headed back to France, which is the last time I would have any vague ability to communicate in the local language.

We made a brief stop-over in Arles (the home of Vincent van Gogh in the latter part of his life), which houses the fairly well-preserved remains of a massive Roman amphitheater (a World Heritage site), and then continued on to the Antibes.

Arles, France 
Arles, France

Arles, France

Dinner was shortly after our arrival at the campsite, and the Contiki site crew had a surprise for us. They had cooked up a French specialty for us to try. Frogs legs. They were quite awkward to eat, but tasted quite nice. Not quite nice enough for seconds, but still.

First up the next day was a scenic drive through the mountains and along the French Riviera coastline to visit a perfumery. After doubling back a significant distance, we arrived in Nice to spend our afternoon. We wandered through town in search of the markets, and then trekked up the hill to the site of an old chateau (and ruins from countless layer of keeps, churches, etc). Of course, this did provide an amazing panoramic view of the riviera and Nice's famous 'pebble' beach.

Cascades, Nice

Nice, France

Nice, France

Nice, France

Nice, France

Nice, France

Pebble beach, Nice, France

Pebble beach, Nice, France
An example of the 'pebbles' found along the beach in Nice.

That night after dinner, we went out to Monaco. Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, after the Vatican, and generally used as a tax haven for the ridiculously-wealthy. In order to become a citizen, a mere 1 million euro donation to the monarch is required, and citizens pay no tax. Of course, only a small portion of the population of Monaco are actually citizens, but it remains a playground of the super-rich.

We briefly visited the main casino, in Monte Carlo, where I had hoped to meet my Russian billionaire future-husband.. but, alas, even the private areas were almost entirely void of people. Evidently Friday nights are not favoured for gambling bu Russian billionaires. One of the boy on my tour did wind up $500ish up from blackjack (I believe he had been up to $900 in winnings at one point), and the rest of us retired to nearby Buddha Bar, where we could still scarcely avoid a single drink. Needless to say, Monaco was neither a big nor a rowdy night out. Although our sing-along on the bus home was greatly enjoyable.

The next morning, we departed for Italia.

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