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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Landrum in Europe: Bienvenue à Monaco et la France!

May 24th, 2010

We woke up kind of early on the morning of May 24th, mainly because we didn’t know what to expect in the hours ahead.  We’d boarded a cruise ship for the first time ever the day before, and now we were pulling into our very first port ever!  Well, Mr. L’s first “cruise ship” port, anyhow ;)

We've arrived!
Unfortunately, we didn’t wake up early enough to actually see the ship approach and arrive in Monte Carlo, but after we got dressed, we walked out on deck and were greeted with these stunning views:

View on the other side of the ship
For some reason, I absolutely love this picture.

Close up of the city

We're in Monaco!
Monte Carlo is such a gorgeous place – it’s so easy to see why the world’s wealthiest flock to it.   It’s also easy to see where the wealthy spend their money – perhaps on a yacht like this?

The Amadeus, one of the biggest yachts docked in Monte Carlo and owned by French businessman Bernard Arnault.  I thought it was a mini cruise ship at first.
After spending a little while out on deck, we headed inside to the buffet to grab some breakfast.  We had a little time to kill considering our shore excursion we’d scheduled for the day (to Menton, France and Èze Village, France) didn’t start until the early afternoon.  However, after seeing the mad rush to the tender line (Monte Carlo was too shallow for our ship to actually dock, so they had to have tender boats to take everyone to shore), we joined up and went ahead and got our tender tickets.  Unfortunately, we were a few hours too early (about three!) and ended up really having to kill some time once we got on shore.

We sat at a little café in the port area and relaxed under a shady umbrella for a while.  It was nice to sit back and people watch (even if the people were tourists like us!) as well as admire all of the beautiful yachts.  We chatted for a while with some people from our ship who were in from Texas as well.

View from our chairs.  The fog was definitely starting to roll in!
After relaxing for a while, we decided to go walk around and see if we could find anything interesting.  The folks from Texas informed us that for some reason the shops in Monte Carlo were all closed (still not sure why, it was a Monday!) but we did find this gorgeous park area that was an old fort, called Fort Antoine.

The fog was pretty persistent!

Sign honoring Princess Grace of Monaco
We explored for a good while, and enjoyed the serenity of the lapping ocean waves, the breeze in the trees, and the chattering wildlife around us.

Absolutely gorgeous Mediterranean water
We saw a ton of animals running and flying around, like this pigeon!
View of Monte Carlo from Fort Antoine
Mr. L with the gorgeousness that is Monte Carlo...
...and me with the gorgeousness that is Monte Carlo!
And I found as I was researching for this post that apparently Fort Antoine made an appearance in the James Bond flick, Goldeneye!

“In the 1995 James Bond movie GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan as Bond watches from the Fort Antoine theatre how Xenia Onatop and the admiral board a speedboat in Monte Carlo's port.”  - http://www.jamesbondlifestyle.com/index_travel.php?m=tr&g=tr014

James Bond was here!
Once it was closer to time for our excursion to begin, we said goodbye to Fort Antoine and made our way back to port to wait just a little while longer.  Finally our bus pulled up and we were on our way!

Our first stop, after navigating the treacherously high and winding roads common along the hilly, rocky Mediterranean coast (seriously, one bridge we drove on had to be a mile high AND on top of a mountain – I only wish I’d gotten a picture!), was the lovely seaside town of Menton, France, on the other side of Cap Martin (literally one of the most gorgeous places in the world!)

By this time, silly old me had used up way too much camera battery exploring Fort Antoine, so our pictures in Menton are quite limited, unfortunately :(

It was an absolutely gorgeous town though.  So many people were out enjoying the beautiful weather and the stunning Mediterranean water.  It really had a wonderful vibe to it, and I definitely wouldn’t have minded exploring more of this part of the Mediterranean coastline!

Menton's marina

Our excursion involved a short walking tour through the town where our guide pointed out a great street to shop on as well as get a bite to eat.  Afterwards we got some free time, and of course Mr. L and I made our way over to the beach!

Beautiful Mediterranean coastline
Le plage!
Yes, there were actually nude sunbathers (hopefully they didn't make it into my pictures!)
Our time in Menton was rather short, however, and too soon after we arrived, we hopped back on the bus to visit our final destination, the medieval village of Èze, France, first populated back in 2000 B.C.

Our tour guide walked us around the cobbled, hilly streets of this village for a half hour or so, and we admired the beautiful buildings and architecture that surrounded us.

Sign for Château Eza, a famous hotel in Eze Village
Church on the outskirts of the city
After a good bit of exercise (those hills got kind of steep!), we made it to one side of the city on a cliffside, overlooking a beautiful mountain.  We had a few minutes to stop for a photo op, and we took advantage!

If you took a peek over the cliff, you could see Le Jardin d’ Èze, a beautifully landscaped garden area in the city.

Afterwards, Mr. L and I roamed the city on our own, browsing through the quaint shops and admiring the craftsmanship of the products.  We purchased our first souvenir here, a beautiful painting by Lyrand of one of the buildings in Èze.

Again, our time was up all too quickly, and it was time to get on the bus again.  We made one more stop at Fragonard, a very famous European perfumery in Èze.  The store smelled heavenly (and we made more souvenir purchases, of course) and we enjoyed browsing through the various soaps, perfumes, and body care products.

We took one last look at the village and made our way back through the mountains to Monte Carlo and our cruise ship, ready to take a long nap and tackle the next port – Livorno, Italy!


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1 comment:

  1. [...] cruise ship docked in Livorno, Italy on the morning of the 25th, and just like the day before, Mr. L and I were up bright and early – except this time, we wouldn’t get to lounge around for [...]



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