Cote d'Azur Day 3
Saturday, October 23, 2010 

Today we plan to shop in downtown Nice, visit the principality of Monaco, and perhaps cross the border to visit Ventimiglia, a small town in northwestern part of Italy.

I woke up to a beautiful morning as the sun was just peeking over the horizon. The temperature in this late October morning was around 65 degrees and since the water looked so tempting, I decided to jump into the ocean for a swim and found the water - although cold - warmer than the air because it had been heated all summer long. Swimming in cold water invigorated me.

Matisse Museum hidden behind groves of olive trees
After a quick breakfast of French bread, pastries, and coffee, we drove to downtown Nice near Place Massena where I dropped everyone off to shop at high-end shops along Avenue De Verdun then I headed to the Matisse Museum. Henry Matisse used to live and created extensive work here in Nice.

The museum is located on Boulevard De Cimiez high on the hill overlooking parts of Nice. Groves of olive trees are cultivated on the museum ground which also has the remains of Roman ruins and even a children playground. Although I enjoy Matisse's work, I thought the museum dedicated to his name is a bit lacking. It does have a variety of his paintings, sculptures, and rough drafts but there are not enough pieces in my opinion.

Back to Place Massena, Lee had found a purse she had always wanted at the Louis Vuitton Shop and we made the purchase. We then picked up some to-go foods, jumped in the car and headed to Monaco.
Sunrise in Nice
Taking the Moyene Corniche again, we weaved our way up and down the side of the mountain, passed Eze Village, then descended onto Monaco. The 14-mile trip took us approximately 30 minutes.

Monaco is a small country but has extensive wealth. Tall buildings crop up on sides of the mountain that face the sea, expensive shops line the clean and landscaped streets, and sea-going yachts pack the harbor.

Driving in Monaco is relatively easy if you pay attention the signs located at almost every intersection. Parking is not allowed on the streets, only in paid parking garage. We parked our car in a garage near Monaco-Ville, then took the bus up a steep road to the top of Monaco-Ville to visit the prince's palace, his garden, and the cathedral where Princess Grace was buried.
Monaco's Hercule Port viewed from Monaco-Ville
Khanh and Don in front of the casino
quiet and ...
charming streets of Monaco-Ville
Monaco-Ville is a quiet city as it doesn’t allow outsiders to drive their cars on its streets.

Everywhere you look, there are clean and narrow cobble stone streets, private villas, gardens, museums, and small shops.

Because Monacoville perches high on top of a rocky cliff, it provides a visitor numerous places to view the ritzy harbor below.
Place du Palais where the Prince of Monaco resides
Lee posing at one of the fort columns
Khanh in Garden Saint Martin in Monaco-Ville
One of many statues in Garden Saint Martin
Leaving Monaco-Ville, we drove to Monte Carlo, and stop at the grand Monte Carlo Casino. We wandered around in the garden in front of the casino for a long time, tried our luck at the slot machines, and had coffee on the sidewalk at Cafe de Paris.

The garden with its tiered water fountains, marble balconies, and manicured landscaping is stunning. Adjacent to the casino is the famed Hotel de Paris and the whole area in front of these two places was packed with people and expensive cars.

Hotel de Paris has a sidewalk café where we found a table to sit, sip our drinks, and watch people strolling by. It was so relaxing.
Monte Carlo Casino
Same spot for Lee and Khanh
Coffee here at Hotel de Paris sidewalk cafe
One of many fancy cars in front of the Monte Carlo Casino
Around the corner from Hotel de Paris was high-end designer shops where Khanh found a Louis Vuitton store and purchased a purse.

We then headed back to Nice, picked up our foods along the way, and had a simple dinner at the apartment while watching a slide slow of our Monaco pictures on the iPad. This was a good day. Tomorrow will be a fun-filled day as well.
Lee and Bo admiring Monaco

What do you think?
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Lee enjoying the view before we start the day
Khanh and Lee on the steps of Saint Nicholas Cathedral where Princess Grace was laid to rest