Port de Nice: Touring Monaco and Monte Carlo

After leaving Barcelona, our ship set sail to Port de Nice located on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean sea.

This stop had lots to offer including a tour through the Principality of Monaco and a drive on the Formula 1 Grand Prix track on the streets of Monaco, also made famous in the movie Iron Man 2.

We also got to visit the world famous Monte Carlo Casino and try our hand at a few shakes of the dice. It’s overrated, but still cool to stroll through.

As we drove out of port, we caught a glimpse of Elton John’s summer home and learned about the no tax laws and benefits of being a resident of Monaco. Wealthy foreigners make up the majority of the region’s population at approximately 84% to take advantage of the tax benefits.

While touring Monaco, we had the chance to walk through the royal Palace and the Cathedral of Monaco where Prince Rainier married the American actress Grace Kelly and where they are both entombed.

First shot of Port de Nice as we pulled in to harbor.

Local fisherman line the port looking for bites. Ship’s crew were stoked about the free high speed wifi in the harbor.

Gorgeous shot from the mountain as we made our way to Monaco. Everyone pretty much made their mind up to retire here on this stop.

The Oceanographic Museum as we exited the parking structure in Monaco. I got my Gowalla Space Suit from here!

Saint Nicholas Cathedral, known also as Monaco Cathedral. Many of the Grimaldis were buried, including Grace Kelly and more recently, Rainier III.

A shot of the town as we made our way to the Palace.

More awesome architecture as we passed.

Interesting marking on the side of a building.

We arrived at the Palace in time for the changing of the guard ceremony.

People were going a little nuts over the guards. One guy fainted. I’m assuming it was from the heat, although, it was 62 degrees.

Snare drum during the changing of the guards in Monaco.

The palace was founded in 1191 as a Genoese fortress.

Sea birds lined the buildings and often flew overhead. I cringed with each pass.

Out with the old guards, in with the new.

The main clock on the west tower of the Palace. Hope this was accurate because everyone uses it!

Shot of the crowd with Monte Carlo in the back. This look out gave us views of the track, the casino and france in one.

Steep ridges and impressive mountains.

More interesting signage. I’m assuming this is stop or caution.

We found some great corridors on our way to lunch.

It was hectic as we walked back to the bus. Scooters and cars zoomed down the narrow roads.

What a cool post office.

Nonstop service in Monaco. Just sayin’…

Shot from the opposite look out.

Jam packed with boats.

Shot of the mountain-side and the typical housing structure of Monaco. Real estate is at a premium because everyone wants those tax benefits.

A rare shot of this statue fronting the Palace. It’s rare because she usually has a bird on her head at all times. I scared it away.

The money shot: track, casino and country side all in one.

The canon balls were welded down.

Told you. There’s that bird!

Wide shot of the Palace of Monaco.

You should know me by now. More signs and architecture.

Inside the Cathedral.

Gorgeous architecture and detail.

Tombs of royalty.

Our group walks past the back of the Cathedral.

The Prince.

Shot of the cathedral as we exit.

Metal decorations line the cathedral doors.

Facade of the Oceanographic Museum.

The bay fronting Monte Carlo.

Cement engraving of a pillar by the harbor.

Smart cars everywhere! For a second, I actually wanted one. I don’t think I fit in it, though.

One of the Formula 1 Grand Prix turns with the grand casino in the background.

Another shot of the turn. Note the tire marks on the curb. Not from the local drivers, although, they’re insane as well.

Shot of the crowd behind us as we approach the casino entrance.

From the entrance to the Monte Carlo grand casino. This spot is known to sport one of the highest concentrations of exotic sports cars in the world. This time, only a few Mercedes and a Viper. I did see three Ferrari F430’s pass within the hour.

Facade of the grand casino. It’s quite grand.

Hundreds of people come here to walk through the casino and catch a glimpse of the sports cars and wealthy who frequent the area.

Shot of the casino from the fountain that overlooks the grounds and garden.

While the casino was nice, the gaming inside wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Mostly tables and serious gamblers playing high stakes games.

The slots were limited to a back section of video poker machines and nickel games. Nothing like Golden Nugget, but I guess this was just novelty for the tourists anyways.

All in all, Nice and Monaco proved to be one of our favorite stops on our journey so far. The clean, crisp and vibrant cityscape and the luxury of a town steeped in it’s wealth was a nice contrast to the Medinas of Tunisia.

Next, we’re on to the port of Livorno to visit Florence through Tuscany and to Pisa, home of the famous leaning tower.