One of my very old friends, a rafting buddy who may or may not have featured prominently in one of my books, has been living in the principality of Monaco for the last few years. This weekend I jetted down to see him, which for me was my very first time in the south of France. Sunday was Australia Day, and the excuse was an Australian themed party at one of the local bars. So I hit up KLM, flew to Nice, and made the short journey up the coast to one of the most extraordinary cities it has been my pleasure to experience first hand.
Because it’s Monaco, baby.
There was a lot of boozing, a good deal of eating, and much walking. The city is a labyrinth, bisected by tunnels and elevators which make an ease out of its precarious position perched on the side of a jutting mountainous lump of Mediterranean rock. Without these modern luxuries it would be rather exhausting to get out to the local shops. Not that you’d want to; I saw a pair of socks on display for 600euro. Must have been made from whale penis or some other sort of fashion abomination.
As the two of us are F1 fans, my mate took me on a walking tour of the Monaco Grand Prix race circuit. It didn’t take all that long which explains why the drivers have to complete so many laps. I now have a much greater appreciation of the route which will help for future race viewings when I’m dozing in front of the television. We stayed at my mate’s apartment which looks down on the Hotel Hermitage of Monte Carlo. For several grand a month he gets a few rooms and a neighbor who likes drunken parties with women of dubious means.
We ate out a lot which was tasty but rather hard on the back pocket. You just don’t inquire of the prices in Monaco because otherwise you’ll resort to bread sticks and tap water without the lemon. On Sunday we took the charming local train down to the even more charming village of Ville France sul mer. There we had lunch on a broad terrace with a crowd of locals who were reveling in equal measures in the winter sun and the lack of tourists. Across the bay juts a wooded promontory, its small hillsides dotted with villas, one of which The Stones used to record Exile on Main Street. Word has it that they cut a swathe through many of the local girls. I got a good look at many of the local girls and all I can say is that Keith and his cohorts were very lucky bastards.
Good Lord, the women are tidy down in this part of the world. I thought that the Italian broads in Verona had the style division locked up and the keys hidden but they look like dumps in comparison to what I saw in the south of France. Anything female was simply immaculate in every way, age being totally irrelevant. At a party we were hit on by a woman whose age was a mystery; she could have been anything from 50 to 75. Whatever the truth, we didn’t mind chatting with her. She would have been stunning back in the day. Now she was only beautiful.
The azure sea, the gentle yet warming winter sun, the perfect drinks, and all set to the backdrop of a city that only money can create. The best part was that no matter who you are, in Monaco, excluding the royal family, everybody is a nobody. The police strike a pose in the middle of boulevards and pull drivers over at random for a tough verbal inspection. Any soul that foolishly offers the phrase, “Don’t you know who I am?” is in for a rude shock. The cops simply do not give a shit. Nor for that matter do any of the talented staff fronting the many establishments. They’ve seen it all and they’ll see it all again. In Monaco you’re on a level footing with the rich and famous. That is, until the bill comes.
I’ll be back in a few months for the Grand Prix. Flying back into gloomy Holland today was somewhat of a letdown from the perfect weather just a 90 minute flight away. But I am content with where I am. That sort of life is simply too perfect, too clean, too organised, too wonderful. I can’t be that wonderful, so it was great for a couple of days but it was even better to get the hell out of there. Heaven can wait.