22 – 23 June 2017
I met my host Marie at 5pm in front of a restaurant in Rochebrune San-Martin from we went to her place. After me settling in, we walked down the hill and took a pleasant swim in the Mediterranean. In the evening we went to Monaco for a free evening concert at the Grimaldi Forum convention center - not my kind of music but it would be unfair to complain. More interesting was meeting Marie's best friend Mark and a friend of his. After the concert, Marie took me around Monaco for a quick evening sightseeing.
I headed out at 9.30 the following morning. It was hot and humid and unfortunately also overcast, but since I only had this day, postponing the Monaco sightseeing was not an option. It was a short and hilly ride to Monaco where a haze prevented good views of the coastline. Located on a mountainside, Monaco itself was also hilly riding but without my heavy luggage, it was easy biking. On my way to the medieval village Monaco-Ville alias The Rock (Le Rocher), I passed by the African Garden, the casino, the opera and the biggest harbour Port Hercule. Amongst other Monaco-Ville comprises the Princes Palace, so it’s very touristic, but also quite cosy made up almost entirely of pedestrian streets and passageways as well as century old houses. After watching the change of guards, I biked down to Port de Fontvieille where I had lunch before continuing to Princes Grace Rose Garden and one of the country’s two public beaches - both manmade and really nothing special being more pebbles than sand.
Monaco is much too upscale and artificial to be interesting. That said, the location is great and I enjoyed riding around admiring the many beautiful old buildings. The extravagance is mind-blowing (yachts, hotels, apartments, cars, clothes, etc.) and still I experienced a fairly relaxed atmosphere e.g. lots of people eating sandwich lunches in parks. I assume it has to do with most people working but not living in Monaco, which also influence the difference between days and evenings in Monaco. Days are for business with sky high prices, while evenings imply cheaper prices (even free) to attract foreigners ensuring life/atmosphere in the country.
I returned to Rochebrune San-Martin around 4pm where it was time to do laundry. The previous day Marie had kindly offered I could use her machine, but I wanted to wait until after my visit to Monaco. When asking this evening, she declined having just put her own clothes in the machine. Fair enough, though I found it somewhat strange that she didn't wash until bedtime 7 hours later. Anyway, I rode 4k to Menton where a found a laundrette. When I returned some hours later, we chipped in for dinner - I made some chicken/pasta and Marie made a tasty local dish.