The Royal Paradise

A haven for the rich and famous, a haven for glitter and glamour, a haven for tax evaders set among the picturesque mountains and washed by the blue Mediterranean … This is all about the second-smallest country in the world which nature and men collaboratively made into heaven… We might not be too knowledgeable about its history, but we know this is where wealth and money are blissfully happy to be… A perfect set for a beautiful fairytale in Hollywood style, so much revenue generated and glamour luring in the affluent people in the area tucked away by the nature which seems to bow to the wealth and bring it to its glorious best there…

A place fit for princes and princesses, earthly paradise, was supposed to be our final stop of the French Riviera. Were we going to feel comfortable here, too? Well, the beauty of the scenery left us astounded and overwhelmed. You still have the blue of the Mediterranean, perfectly green trees, a gentle breeze… But it felt as if there was a Chanel #5 drop dispersed in the air or some other very chic and delicate touch that made the Mediterranean look its bluest, the trees their greenest and the breeze the most gentle… Monaco arguably has the highest concentration of beauty in the world and offers a perfect adventure and getaway for those individuals for whom the money isn’t really an issue… Man is really capable of conquering the nature and tailoring the surroundings to feed their ambition and we didn’t have to drive too far away from Nice to realize that…

SAM_4325

The views make your head spin and leave you incredulous especially as you find out that jaw-dropping house overlooking the bay is owned by a popular and ridiculously rich businessman and politician, our fellow Russian… Russian people love to show off their wealth in unthinkably extraordinary ways… We are only allowed a brief stop here to get the best of amazing photo opportunities. That gives us a very captivating, sparkling-blue idea of what money can buy… This is Monaco-Ville, one of the districts of Monaco, perched on the rock where the city originated in the 13th century. It is too beautiful to be a dream but what they have in common is that they didn’t last too long for us…

SAM_4323

SAM_4320

SAM_4337

It was time to see more of the tiny country. The area gracefully occupied by the royal state seems so compact that I wondered if we were going to cause any disruption to the tranquil serenity of what is hard to believe to be home for about 30 thousands residents. It came across as more like a place you would come to celebrate life and make it a big indulgent party rather than somewhere to live day-to-day lives.

SAM_4342

SAM_4339

SAM_4340

Usually where there is money, there is a lot of adrenaline, testosterone and speed… So Monaco is also world-wide known as a venue for a major sporting event, Monaco Grand Prix and there are monuments of speedy fancy cars reminding you of that. I’d love to witness the squealing of brakes against a gentle Mediterranean breeze, to me these seem to clash. I guess I need to see the race being televised to get a feel for what it is like. It might send my heart racing. The view alone did anyway…

SAM_4419

We stopped to be dazzled by the Oceanographic Museum perched on top of a beautiful hill. It boasts the largest marine collection in the world and having seen it even just from the outside gives us something to boast about… I wouldn’t believe a view to be so awe-inspiringly beautiful even if I saw it on a movie screen. As they say, it’s just too beautiful to be true… It’s so beautiful it hurts and you think you’d been living your life for this moment to finally arrive…

SAM_4360

SAM_4357

SAM_4358

SAM_4359

Driving down an underground parking area gives us a breather feeling like a moment to refresh and refill ourselves after being on set of a romantic epic, Grace Kelly style. As we go up to explore the paradise on foot, we see pictures of her son Prince Albert II and his wife gracing us with a royal smile. Even a touch of ordinary life had a dazzling royal shine to it.

SAM_4366

SAM_4364

A huge wow-moment for me was the view of our next set, the Fontvieille harbor with pristine white yachts and splendid modern architecture. It had to be seen to be believed! This is so much more than just a postcard view. This is where the sea gave way to the human-made beauty. There is simply not enough space to accommodate all the wealth, therefore the area was reclaimed from the sea to display a tiny bit of it. It is hard to believe those glamorous vessels are ever used because they seem to be so perfectly lined-up to be a landscape to never forget. Can they take you anywhere more beautiful than Monaco..?

SAM_4374

SAM_4370

After getting some souvenirs, none of which can really do justice to what you see here and will be revering and dreaming of back home, we witness the Change of Guards at the royal palace. It looks surprisingly less opulent than what you would expect it to be. The Grimaldi family ruled the country for 700 years and here is a statue of François Grimaldi to commemorate his capture of the fortress. The place feels super safe and occasional groups of tourists all seem to be out of place because it doesn’t look like your average tourist destination. It’s royal on the royal scale!

SAM_4383

SAM_4377

SAM_4378

SAM_4380

SAM_4382

SAM_4397

SAM_4390

SAM_4393

What do you do when you can afford to spend money like water? You go where the water is the bluest blue and gamble like hell in this paradise. Some people in our group were entertaining hopes of winning some. “Good luck!”, thought we as we ditched them to go to a different paradise that would keep us boasting probably for the rest of our lives! As if the royal paradise wasn’t enough, we headed to the best place to be, the Monte Carlo beach! We were doing it the royal style! En route to the beach, we found The Champions Promenade paying tribute to the greatest footballers and it made us proud to see some Russian names and footprints. Don’t get me started on how bad the current Russian national team is… That was a walk with a view for a champion! I felt like singing “We are the champions, my friend!” Actually, there was another Titanic moment I wished to relive and that was spreading my arms into the air and screaming “I’m a king of the world!” Royal delusions in a royal country…

SAM_4435

SAM_4424

SAM_4426

SAM_4434

That was a beach experience to remember, whatever beaches I will hopefully embark on in my life! Enjoying it all for free was an amazing bonus. Splashing in the bluest sea, having fun with the flirty waves with beautiful high-rises surrounded by a mountain landscape would be worth giving up a glorious Hollywood career to move here if I were Grace Kelly… Enjoying the leftover of Nice peaches was the cherry on the Mediterranean cake. At one point, I just laid back and put on a song called “Paradise” on my player to suit the moment… I knew I would be playing it during my trip and that was the time! Will my idea of paradise ever change from that? I’ve got my whole life to find out…

SAM_4462

SAM_4438

SAM_4461

Feeling like royally sophisticated sunbathers, we were leaving surprised to be back to “normal” life when I saw a bus stop and leisurely sitting here taking in what was a world away from what my routine bus experience is like… I was wondering how ordinary locals felt about living alongside the rich and famous…

It was time to leave and our fellow travelers weren’t lucky to win that day but they looked quite happy about the whole experience. Travelling to the French Riviera made us more relaxed and laid-back and what did we have to lose compared to big gamblers? I’m not sure anyone got a serious ambition of making it big and getting a property here in the region that was designed to enjoy life, sea and sun, but I guess we all had a common ambition, that was to come here again! Before we did, all we could do was to reminisce and splash in the sea of memories… Mediterranean, I can’t wait to feel you on my skin again… Au revoir, Monaco! Au revoir, Côte d’Azur… Je t’aime, ‘Méditerranée’!

SAM_4455

Author: Olga

An English teacher and translator, a keen traveller

One thought on “The Royal Paradise”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s