Friday, October 20
the French Riviera and the Côte
The French Riviera
is part of France's southeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea,
reaching from Menton to Cassis. The name Côte d'Azur
was coined by Stephen Liégeard, politician and writer, in 1887 when
he published a book on the Riviera called La Côte d'Azur . The new
name was an instant hit and caught on almost immediately across the
region and the rest of France - and indeed the world. Of all the
Côte d'Azur resorts, Menton – the warmest and most Italianate, being
within a couple of kilometres of the border – is the one that
retains an atmosphere of aristocratic tourism, being even more of a
rich retirement haven than Nice. It doesn't go in for the
ostentatious wealth of Monaco nor the creativity cachet of Cannes
and some hilltop towns, but glories chiefly in its climate and
year-round lemon crops. It's ringed by protective mountains, so
hardly a whisper of wind disturbs this suntrap of a city.
awoke to cloudy skies but there were some increasing patches of
blue sky. Ken walked across the road to buy croissants for
breakfast which we shared with the pigeons on our balcony.
We then set out for Nice driving on the coastal road, known as
the Grand Corniche, one of the world's most scenic
fishing villages alternate with palatial villas; cliffs drop to
the sea below and roads twist to dramatic vistas at every turn.
It is a sublime experience we won’t soon forget. Some of
the highlights we saw along the drive include:
Villefranche-Sur-Mer where delightful Italianate houses line
the bay of this magnificent, unspoiled village; Beaulieu-Sur-Mer
(sometimes called Petit
the Grand Cornice on the Cote d'Azur
Afrique because of its palm trees)
which is a stylish resort is an oasis of peace and quiet; and
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a lush peninsula that is renowned for
its sheltered beaches, abundant sunbathing and celebrity
watching. Although the trip was only 31 km, it took us a
couple of hours because of traffic on the very winding roads.
We did a quick driving tour of Monte Carlo before continuing on
to Nice. Nice is the fifth largest city in France
with a population of
350,000. We quickly
realized that we would get lost
without a proper map so we decided to go back to Monaco.
About 10 km east of Nice, we stopped at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, a
wealthy resort known for its quality marina facilities by those
involved in yachting, for lunch at the marina. Then it was
on to Monaco.
taken along the Grand Corniche
A sovereign and independent state, the Principality of Monaco
has borders on its landward side with several communes of the
French Department of the Alpes-Maritimes; from west to east
these are Cap d'Ail, la Turbie, Beausoleil and Roquebrune Cap
Martin. Seawards, Monaco faces the
Map of Monaco
Its surface area is 485 acres, of
which nearly 100 were recovered from the sea during the course
of the last twenty years. Monaco lies on a narrow coastal strip,
which sometimes rises vertically upwards with its highest point
at 206 feet. Its width varies between .65 miles and a mere 382
yards. Its coastline is 2.5 miles long. The Principality has
only one commune, Monaco, whose limits are the same as those of
the state. Monaco is divided into five areas:
- Monaco-Ville on the Rock,
the old fortified town, is situated on a high point of land at
60m (200 ft.) high, with the Prince's Palace, the ramparts,
the gardens, the Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum.
- The Condamine
is the second oldest area in Monaco. The name comes from the
Middle Ages and means the cultivable land at the foot of a
village or castle.
created in 1866, named in honor of Prince Charles III, hosts
an internationally famous Casino, luxury hotels and leisure
facilities, some created recently: Larvotto beach, the Monte
Carlo Sporting Club, the Boulingrins Gardens.
- Fontvieille is
the newest area of the Principality of Monaco and was created
from land reclaimed from the sea. This man-made waterfront
area features a harbor, stadium and sports complex, heliport,
and a pollution-free industrial zone, as well as some shopping
areas and the new Columbus Monaco hotel.
home to the Révoires and the Exotic Gardens (on the western
border with Cap d`Ail).
In 1997, the Principality of
Monaco celebrated the 700 year reign of the Grimaldi dynasty.
For more info on Monaco:
parked the car and took an elevator up to Monaco-Ville on the
Rock - the elevator was built right into the rock. We
wandered around the Old Town with its lovely gardens and the
Palace. Kathryn bought a lovely leather purse that matches
her leather jacket. We found an Internet cafe and sent an
email home. We took a lot of photos here and you can see
them in the slide show below. We also watched a 35 minute
film on the history of Monaco which was very informative.
with Monte Carlo in the background
were driving out of Monaco, we came to the famous Larvotto
the single most decadently glamorous beach in the world, where
women may go without their bikini tops, but wouldn't dare to be
seen without their jewels.
Larvotto is actually a man-made beach, with fresh white
sand constantly shipped in to offset Mother Nature's best erosion
efforts. Fake or not, the entire principality is so gorgeous and
charged with energy that you won't care who made its most famous
strip of sand. The Beach was pretty much deserted although the sun
did come out. Ken went for a little dip in the water.
While Kathryn was taking the picture, a big wave came in and
completely soaked him. We then continued back to Menton on
the Basse (Lower) Corniche which is closer to the water
but more crowded with vehicles.
Ken in the
water at Larvotto Beach
We got a great view of Menton from
the hill to the west of town as we came home. Ken went back into
the room and changed into some dry clothes and then we went down
to explore the beach across the street from the hotel. It
is called Garavan Bay and of course Ken had to go into
the water again. We also walked around the yachts in
We walked into town and had pizza and beer in a small family
restaurant. Ken knew we had been in Europe to long when
the waitress (Mama) spoke to him
Ken in the
water at Menton beach
in Italian in this restaurant in
France and Ken answered in German.
We really loved our time in
Menton. It is jus to bad that we didn't have better
weather while we were here.
Click here for a slide
show of Day 46 photos.