Friday, October 3

Steve: We started the day with a trip to our favorite breakfast stop - a small bakery in the old section of Nice. The chocolate croissants here are wonderful, and they are served hot from the oven. The French bakeries are by far the best we've experienced anywhere on our trip, and we're looking forward to indulging more over the next couple of weeks. Even David, who generally won't eat any pastries for breakfast, enjoys the croissants here.

Our first destination was the Matisse Museum, located here in Nice. Matisse spent much of his life in Nice, and created many of his famous works here. The museum is located in Matisse's final home, and consists of donations that Matisse made in 1953, the year before his death. The museum contains paintings, sketches, paper cuttings and sculptures, as well as several of Matisse's personal articles. We enjoyed learning more about Matisse's life, and were surprised to learn that Matisse didn't become an artist until his 30's, after a brief career in law. The museum allowed us to see the evolution in Matisse's style over the years - there are works dated from the 1890's all the way through 1954.

We walked through a suburban area of Nice to the train station for a 20-minute ride to Monaco. Monaco is the world's second smallest sovereign state (after the Vatican), with a total area of .74 square miles. Not surprisingly, it also boasts the world's largest per-capita income. Our first stop was at the post office for our traditional purchase of post cards and stamps for each country (or principality) that we visit. David and Katie enjoy the idea of visiting a new "country" like this - before today, they had no idea that Monaco even existed!

Our first view of Monaco came along the walkway that leads up to the Palais de Monaco and the area called Monaco Ville. The density and height of the buildings is amazing. We had read about Monaco's population density (with 30,000 residents, that equates to over 40,000 people per square mile!), but were not prepared for the sheer number of buildings that rise up from the harbor. The sight of skyscrapers and huge apartment buildings towering over the harbor filled with yachts is certainly unique. Despite the surrounding mountains, we didn't find the setting to be that attractive - we told ourselves that it's probably just a matter of taste.



Monaco Ville is located on top of a cliff, and consists of the Palais de Monaco, several shops and restaurants and some very beautiful homes. This is also the site of the Musee Oceanographique - one of the best aquariums and marine research centers in the world. Jacques Cousteau was the director here for over 30 years (until 1988). This is probably the best aquarium we've ever been to. The 90+ tanks contain an amazing variety of fish and crustaceans, including many that we've never seen before. David and Katie particularly enjoyed our visit here, and we had a hard time moving them from one tank to the next.

The walk down from Monaco Ville is very scenic, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. We arrived down at the Monaco Yacht Club, and enjoyed walking along the docks and admiring the toys of the rich and famous. There weren't as many of the huge boats here compared with Cannes, but the setting of the harbor nestled under the rising city is certainly more dramatic.

All in all, we enjoyed our day trip to Monaco. It was interesting to see this unique place, and our time in the Musee Oceanographique alone made the trip worthwhile. However, we're definitely ready to leave the Riviera tomorrow and settle in Arles. The western part of Provence has much more to offer - at least for what we're looking for. We'll leave the Riviera and its beaches and casinos to the rich and famous…

Tomorrow we'll drive along the coast making our way toward Arles. We've rented a villa just outside Arles, and will stay there for two weeks. We're really looking forward to staying in one place again for an extended period of time.

Distance Walked: 4.79 miles





















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