Since we were in the South of France and since we can’t get enough of motorbikes (I truly believe it is the most fun way to see a country that also makes you feel like a badass), we rented a scooter and spent the day in Monaco.
The beginning and end of my knowledge of Monaco was that Grace Kelly became a princess there and Daniel Craig became James Bond there. Apparently it’s also very hoity toity, boasting so-so tax laws, harbors full of yachts and famous casinos where you have to pay 17 Euro just to stick your peasant head in the door.
It’s a pretty short ride from Nice to Monaco, but you’ll want to stop at least once for some yacht selfies and to stretch your butt muscles. The trip takes about a half an hour if you don’t get lost several times and have a helluva time finding public parking, and it’s well over an hour if you do.
Once we finally parked our chariot, we toured the main Cathedral in Monaco, where Grace Kelly is buried. I didn’t take any pictures, but it was beautiful inside and the story of Kelly’s marriage to the Prince of Monaco and subsequent Royal life was so interesting to me. Like, I would watch an entire Lifetime movie about it.
After the church, we high tailed it to the Jacque Cousteau Museum, technically the Oceanic Museum of Monaco. I know, you’re thinking, ‘what? it’s just like, an aquarium or something?’ No, you idiot! The top two floors are chock full of amazing things, like old submarine outfits , metal whale skeletons, weird hybrid baby fishes (the stuff of Dr. Seuss’s nightmares) and a plethora of ocean specimens encased in formaldehyde. If you like history or science fiction or weird shit in general, you will definitely like this place.
They do actually have a pretty spectacular aquarium in the bottom, and for nearly an hour I found myself pressed up against the glass with the other 9 year-olds, watching the various seahorses and rays and sharks (!!) glide by with wonder and a new found appreciation for calamari.
Since we only had one day in Monaco, we had to quickly zip over to perhaps the city’s (and country’s – it’s a city state, look it up) most famous attraction: The Monte-Carlo Casino.
The casino is housed in the same building as the city’s opera, and the interior is beautiful, ornately decorated, extremely empty, and makes you alllllmost feel like a member of the Grimaldi family. The actual casino costs 17 Euro to enter, so we said non, merci, and went next door to the “other” Monte-Carlo casino, which was completely packed and reminded me just a little too much of Branson, Missouri. In this trashy stepsister casino, the penny slots were hot, the white wine was reasonably priced and the spicy nuts were complimentary. I played three games, won 6 euro and immediately cashed out.
After collecting my winnings we hightailed it back to our bike, crashed once (just a little fall), and headed to Nice, scooting back to our country with the ocean to our left, the sun overhead and my dreams of driving a Ferrari far behind me. It was a great day trip, but I wasn’t eager to spend any more time in the land of the rich and famous. I’ll always be more Griswald than Grimaldi. I don’t need a yacht…just give me those free almonds!