1990-03-27: Riviera

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Mike1:

27 Mar, 2049, Mallemort

Yesterday, drove autoroute to Frejne-St Raphael. Day began in strong wind (which S remembered is called Mistral), which died down as we proceeded south. Followed coast road along Cote d’Or & Cote d’Azur (Cannes, Nice, Monaco & several smaller places). Cote d’Or was quite rugged, red cliffs, pebble beaches, blue-green water; very scenic. Cote d’Azur rather depressing as it is very heavily built-up over naturally scenic terrain. Stopped in Monaco to see Oceanographic Museum & Cousteau’s aquarium (rather ordinary). Continued on to Menton, somewhat less built-up. Stayed at 3-star Princess et Richmond, quite nice, 1st floor, sea-front room with balcony.

Evening mini-snack menu at desk (no restaurant in hotel, so eat in room), from 7 to 8pm. They ask that you order by 6:30; we wanted to walk a bit, so asked (at 6:50 by our watches) if we could order for 7:30 (staff at desk spoke E). Girl, shocked, said it was 10 before 8! We had missed France’s change to Daylight Saving Time on last Sunday of March! We knew it was to happen then, but had lost track of weeks since we hadn’t been looking at calendar.

The terrain & vegetation grew more ‘Mediterranean’ as we neared coast, as might be expected. Cliffs plunge right into sea in many places; many small coves, some with small beaches, little sand; beaches at Cannes & Nice very narrow (~10 yards or less when we passed).

S & I had twin beds, first since 1971 (She recalled the occasion.) & I slept badly. This morning, we had breakfast in room, then walked about an hour around Menton shopping district. Drove back to Monaco for changing of palace guard (officers apparently gave orders in Monagesque dialect); saw cathedral, very nice, but my shoes squeaked on stone floor every step.

Left Monaco for middle corniche (road) toward Nice. Stopped in Eze for panorama, pictures. Took upper corniche back to Menton (excellent views), then autoroute home.

As we proceeded north in Rhone valley, wind increased, but now seems to be dying down somewhat. Stopped to shop in Senas. I chose a cheese by its convenient size so I wouldn’t have to ask clerk to cut slice of larger cheese; it wasn’t labelled except for (very high 67,80/kg) price, but it was quite good, with the crackers called Shuttles.

S washed more clothes in sink, which are hanging in wind, cold & probably not getting any dryer.

Mike2:

27 Mar, 2049, Mallemort

It is easy to see why the Mistral is so prominent in Provence stories and descriptions. It is much like a Santana wind in Los Angeles, but lasts for longer at a stretch. As the Rhone valley widens in the south, the wind speed decreases, but in Mallemort it was pretty strong.

Our Mediterranean trip showed beautiful landscapes, but also the famous resorts that are so overbuilt we would never consider staying there. We stopped at a roadside (clifftop) stand for sandwiches and drinks, and sat at tables near cliff edge to eat. I accidentally ordered a sandwich called a Mister (?) which was very good, ham and melted cheese on hard roll.

It was fun to drive into Monaco, saw the Monte Carlo casino (from outside), and the palace guard. We saw the site of the upcoming tennis tournament. When we later watched the Monaco Grand Prix on TV, we saw the same roads we had driven on, and enjoyed it all over again; great fun!

The incident of forgetting Daylight time was classic; the desk clerk’s response when she realized what had happened was, “Oh well, you’re on holiday!”

It rained on our windshield (about 10 drops) as we entered Monaco. That was the first rain on the trip.

From Menton, we could see into Italy, and we could also see snowcapped peaks in the Alps. (1991-06-12)

Chris:

On the 26, we drove through a wind that they have so often it is called the Mistral. We saw the museum of Oceanographics. It was super! We found the palace and went to a hotel with a view of the Mediterranean from our window. Then we found out there had been a time change! We went back to Monaco next morning – We saw the changing of the guards. It was nice. A small band played. The band consisted of 1 drum & 2 horns. We ate in a café and started off. We saw the Exotic Gardens. It was cool. I got an olive wood bracelet. Went home, did regular things and went to bed.

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