Monaco, Eze & Theoule

Almost in Monaco.

The day trip Dani & I had taken with his parents to Monaco and the perched village of Eze were so stunning, unique, and worth telling other people about (‘bragging rights,’) that we decided to repeat the tour for my mom & aunt.

We drove again to the Monte Carlo Casino, again did not pay to go inside, again goggled at the expensive cars being valet-parked out front, and again walked down to the harbour in the sunshine.

This time, there was a bustling Christmas market, complete with ferris wheel, mini roller-coaster, and many other games for kids. One was a kind of track where kids were rolling around in huge blow-up hamster balls. Those seem like a good thing to do with kids. They can crash around all they like and no one gets hurt (though it was amusing watching two try to pass one another on the track and get stuck).

We ate far too many Nutella crepes and gawped at the boats which are easily worth more than my grandparent’s house.

For something a little different, we walked up the steep and winding steps to the Palace, which dates from the 16th-17th centuries.

Monte Carlo.

Monte Carlo.

The Grimaldis have ruled Monaco since the 14th century; not a bad run. Of course, Americans are most familiar with the story of film star – turned – Princess, Grace Kelly, & her tragic end. Driving around these steep, winding roads gives one a very good idea of how easy it would be to make a fatal mistake in a car.

The views stretched across the Mediterranean; we soaked in the sun and watched a helicopter land on some private pad by the water’s edge. My mother also noticed (as did Dani’s mother) how impeccably clean it is in Monaco. It feels like a movie set. It’s not the sort of place I’d choose to go, to be honest, but it has been fun and somewhat dazzling to walk around there twice in one month – and to reinforce that the cheapest lunch anywhere on the Cote D’Azur is a €3.50 crepe!

We arrived in Eze earlier than we had last time, and agreed to simply meet at the car if we got separated, as it’s such a tiny place.

We did variously go our separate ways, along the stone passages and arched byways that give one a dramatic feeling that this was a place for pirates and smugglers in days gone by.

Perhaps she's Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry, or Clio, the Muse of History...

I made sure mom & Robin saw the Golden Goat – the statue you can only see if perched on a certain set of steps, which is the emblem of the Chateau of the Golden Goat. Later, Valerie told me that it’s famous for the food, and also outrageously expensive. It was closed for the season but I think we would have ended up with crepes again anyway, so it didn’t matter – though it’s the private places, the restaurants, and the hotels that command the best views.

There is an exotic garden perched at the very top of Eze, but both times we arrived too late in the day to enter. It’s only a €3 fee and must not be very big, but surely has the spectacular views. However, Dani and I discovered that if you climb the steep steps to the perched cemetery in Eze and walk all the way to the fence at the end, you can see the same views over the coast, out to Antibes and beyond.

I was able to get a better photo of one of my favourite statues on this trip, which stands outside of the church square in Eze. Ever since researching my play ‘Venus Heart,’ about the anatomical wax Venus, I’ve been tuned in to statues of the female form.

Perhaps it’s her short, spiky hair, or her hands in pockets, her attitude, her casual stance, her off-the-shoulder, busty dress, her smile, her texture – the way she is both part of the surrounding rock, and apart from it – I love this statue, which is taller than I am. She’s joyous, spritely, organic. She seems to emerge from her surroundings with a burst of energy; a juxtaposition to the hard-and-fast, ‘set’ nature of her medium.

Intriguing St Rita.

My mom, aunt and I visited the church, and I snapped a photo of a painting of St Rita that hung in a darkened alcove. I took the photo because she looked oddly sexy and I wanted to know who she was. It was too dark to see the painting within the church (I wonder if she’s purposely hung in the darkest alcove because she looks sexy).

St Rita was an Italian lady married to a brutally abusive husband. He was later murdered, and she became a nun.

A further explanation (Wikipedia) tells the graphic story of her forehead wound: One day at prayer, she asked to suffer as Jesus had, and a thorn fell from a statue of Christ and struck her on the forehead.

The wound never healed and caused her suffering for the rest of her life. It also apparently stank, which kept the other nuns away. When Rita died, the scent supposedly turned to a wonderful smell of roses. I’m not used to Biblical stories, but these are up there with the Grimm brothers.

As the sun set, we made a detour back to Les Adrets so my mom & aunt could pack their suitcases for their early morning flight home.

Views of Eze from the cemetery.

Then, we went to dinner at Marco Polo, one of Verity’s favoured restaurants. It’s closed for most of the winter, but open for the Christmas period. There wasn’t anything else open in Theoule this time of year, but they do seem to have the most Christmas lights of any village I’ve seen yet!

Though it was dark, we had a seaside view through the windows, and could see the glitter of the bay of Cannes stretched out across from us.

My mom had the largest prawns we’ve ever seen, Dani & I enjoyed local fish soup (not bouillabaisse, but a smooth and very fishy broth, served with garlic, croutons, cheese, and rouille – a sort of mustard-mayonnaise,) and Robin & Dani had steaks. I had ‘St Jacques,’ or scallops. I. Love. Seafood.

Biggest prawns/crevettes we've encountered.

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