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Day 13 July 22, 2007

Day 13 July 22, 2007
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo, Monaco


After eating a good breakfast on the terrace of our hotel, we drove into Monaco to see the Prince’s Palace and the changing of the guard (which only happens once per day at 11:55am). The drive to Monaco was gorgeous! Mountains on one side, the Med on the other! We found a public parking structure, then headed up to Monacoville to see the little storybook town and palace. The gardens on the walk up to the town were beautiful, overlooking the sea. Once we reached the palace grounds, the views were spectacular – you could see the yachts and ships in the harbor, surrounded by the mountains. Matthew and Emma looked in the souvenir shops while I commandiered a spot to watch the changing of the guard. It was fun to see – much more pomp and circumstance than I remember seeing at Buckingham Palace in London. Once the ceremony was finished, we headed into the Prince’s Palace for a self-guided tour. It was magnificent! The fact that it is a working palace makes it even more interesting. I would definitely recommend using the free audio guide that you get at the entrance – it helped point out details that we would’ve otherwise missed. After walking through the palace, we walked through the Napoleonic Museum next door. Again, I recommend the audio guide. The military uniforms, medals, and other artifacts were very cool to see. Then, we walked into Monacoville to find a sandwich to eat in the gardens. The little village feels just like a storybook town, replete with narrow cobble streets, stone walls, and flower boxes in the windows! Next, it was time to walk down into the main part of Monaco to see the Prince’s private collection of cars. Omigod!!!! He has everything from the first horseless carriages to Rolls Royces to race cars – amazing! We spent almost 2 hours walking through the collection and taking pictures! After that, we were exhausted from all the walking, so we decided to head back to our car and go back to our hotel for a rest and a shower before dinner. Sadly, we couldn’t figure out how to get back to the parking garage! We walked and walked and ended up at one of the ports that had a carnival going on. Finally, we figured out how to get to the garage, picked up our car and started to head back to Antibes when we spied a sign advertising Ferraris to drive! I had Matthew pull over so I could find out what this was all about. Turns out you can pay (45 euros to be a passenger, 90 euros to be the driver) to ride in a Ferrari for about 10 minutes and to make one complete loop of the Gran Prix circuit! After about 3 seconds of convincing, Matthew and Emma went to re-park the car while I got some money out of the ATM and signed Matthew up to drive! He was in absolute heaven! The car was spectacular, and he had a blast! After the thrill ride, we went to get our Golf (what a disappointment after driving the Ferrari!) and headed over to the Monte Carlo Casino to look at the fabulous yachts, cars, and fashions. We had a quick coffee in the Cafe de Paris then took Emma into the casino for her first gambling experience. She made 5 euros last a pretty long time in the slot machines! After that, we got our evening clothes out of the car then went to the Hotel de Paris to change for our dinner at Le Louis XV. What an experience! I think we had 6 people waiting on us – one for the bread, one for the butter, one for the water, one for the wine . . . you get the picture! It was amazing! Not only is the restaurant one of the most opulent places I’ve ever been, but the food is absolutely exquisite! Our server was a young guy from Belgium who spoke English pretty well. He was extraordinarily patient with me and all my questions. Yes, they bake the bread on site. Yes, they do grow the herbs there. Yes, everything is prepared in their kitchen. Yes, it is true that they have a special supplier just for the Camembert. Since the restaurant doesn’t want guests taking pictures, you’ll have to take my word for the beauty of the place! We started with a glass of champagne and an amuse bouche. Next came the bread cart, a huge ornate silver piece filled with about 10 different types of bread that were carved as desired. Then, the butter cart, another ornate silver piece with a huge sculpted piece of butter that was shaved as desired. Matthew ordered a bottle of Ducru-Beaucaillou with dinner, the most expensive bottle of wine we’ll probably ever drink! Next, Matthew and I decided to share the duck (which had to be ordered for 2), and Emma decided to have the filet du boeuf – both were delicious! We were then served a selection of cheeses, a pre-dessert then dessert itself, then homemade marshmallows (post-dessert), then madelines and petits-fours with our pear digestif. The food and drink just kept coming and coming for over 3 hours! We finally had to tell our server that we were stuffed and then explained to him the wheelbarrow idiom as it refers to getting home after a big meal! The drive back to our hotel in Antibes seemed endless, but we finally made it into bed.


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