We arrived in style into Cannes and managed to avoid the paparazzi by sneaking out of the back door of the number 20 bus. Armed with one of Elaine’s many maps we took a stroll along the Quai Saint Pierre along the boulevard which ran alongside the beach which was on our left hand side. We were heading towards the old town area built on a hill with the castle, the museum and the old church right at the very top. We walked up the narrow streets until we reached the museum in the castle and by the time we got there they had just closed the doors for their 2 hour lunch break. The walk up had been well worth while however as from the old castle walls we got a magnificent view over Cannes, the harbour and the town all spread out around us.
On the bus on the way in we had spotted the snow covered mountains of the Alps in the distance and I managed to get a really good photo of what we had seen, from up there as well.
On the way down we followed a smart windy road with very expensive looking restaurants either side. We played name that star as we stood outside a closed café with very old, black and white photos of lots actors and actresses looking very young indeed.
Back down at the bottom we walked along by the port full of lots of yachts and large glass fiber boats and many of these had workers on them cleaning, scrubbing and polishing them ready for their lords and masters. Then we went past a magnificent looking yacht with the tallest mast you have ever seen.
The whole thing had masses of fixtures and fittings in sparkling copper and I instantly felt very sorry for the crew member who would be responsible for keeping that lot clean and shiny. We went past the Palais de Festivals where the stars go for the Cannes Film Festival and then headed along a wide street with lots of shops filled with very expensive clothes, jewellery and the like. We went to the very large covered market and enjoyed walking around an antiques market being held there and as we went from stall to stall I heard a very large crash and saw that a stall table had collapsed and lots of the stallholders stock had smashed onto the floor. I quickly looked for Elaine to make sure she was nowhere in sight near the poor man’s stall because looking at the cost of some of the antiques here: restitution would have cost us more than the worth of our motorhome.
Back on the high street, the best shop for me was the shop for dogs. This shop sold everything you could think of for the pampered pooch from diamond studded collars to what looked like a diamante dogs bowl. The coats on offer, just in case your darling pet feels the cold, were all in the window to see and there was even one there with a collar and tie; should you should think of taking your dog somewhere where formal dress was necessary.
The rain started again so we headed to the train station to catch our bus back. It had been a brief visit to this famous town and we both enjoyed what we had seen.
Yesterday was what you could call an admin day. The rain continued and the Dutchman from the next door motorhome said that he had been watching the weather report on his television and where we are is the only place in Europe having bad weather. He did go on to say that the sun will be out tomorrow here so we got on and generally sorted everything out. The washing went in the camp washing machine and the only time I left the camp was to get a bottle of milk from the local Spar shop.
So we were up early today and the sun was blazing away and all the grey clouds had totally disappeared. We caught the bus into Cannes and headed to the train station to catch the 09.45 to Monaco and Monte Carlo. Going, we sat downstairs in the double decker train and we had lots of views of the Cote d ’Azure whenever the track took us right beside the coastline.
As soon as we arrived, we followed the signs straight up the slopes towards “La Palais Princier”. We had to hurry because we did not want to miss the Changing of the Guards Ceremony outside the Princes Palace. There was a large crowd already up there but we managed to get a view of this daily occurrence on the magnificent square. The views from up there over Monte Carlo spread out far below were very impressive and we then went over the other side of the square and went into a very tranquil garden that was built into the sides of the cliff and that took us to the beautifully carved, very impressive Cathedral which is on the same level as the palace. The Cathedral is where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace got married in 1956. Further on we stopped to take pictures of the Musee Oceanographique but as the sun was shining so beautifully then it would have been a shame to have spent some hours inside.
We went down and headed towards the port filled with some very impressive yachts and couldn’t decide which was the most impressive. Two magnificent large Yachts, because of their size and stature, outshone all the other glass fibre palaces and each of those would be worth millions of pounds each.
The one that caught my eye was not as large as the first two, but on the top deck there stood a helicopter. Now that is class! This side of the port we could see lots of progress in preparing for the Grand Prix which, as we all know, takes place around the streets. The stands are being erected and the swimming pool is now empty and a huge crane was being used to move all the metalwork so that it can be completely covered and a lot of people were lunching in the surrounding swimming pool area, watching it all happen.
We started to walk around the circuit along one of the tunnels and then in the middle of a roundabout at the end I spotted what looked like a stone Grand Prix car. The photographer in me couldn’t resist so I left Elaine and managed to cross the busy roads to get that prize photo. When I got close, it was quite a disappointing grey metal piece of artwork but having made the effort I took the photo anyway. Back onto the pavement and Elaine was nowhere in sight. I had presumed she would just wait for me and I then discovered that I had left my mobile phone in the motorhome. Before going off we had been heading up to see the famous casino and the huge hotels around that area so I went up there and no Elaine.
All the statues on the casino roof seemed to be saying “She’s over there. No she isn’t she is waiting back down there.”
I walked back down to the roundabout and then back up to the casino. Still there was no sign. This time I went back down through a beautiful park and looking over a wall I managed to spot her. We did smile but I think Elaine is considering whether she should buy one of those extendable dogs leads.
La Casino de Monte Carlo is a fabulous building and parked up around the area were some of the most expensive cars I have ever seen. I think the expression is “how the other half live”. Someone would drive up in yet another very expensive motorcar and just leave it parked in the middle of the roundabout. Immediately the door man would be by the driver’s door to open it for him. The driver would be given a pink ticket and another smartly dressed employee would take the car off and park it. An awful lot of the very expensive cars we saw there and being driven around had The Principality of Monaco number plates. Elaine had earlier done her usual and had browsed the adverts in an estate agents window. Five or six million euros would buy you quite a large apartment around here.
From the casino we walked through a beautiful park as we headed towards the station for our train ride back to Cannes. We had to go down a very steep set of stairs and there we found the very picturesque, very small L’Eglise Ste Devote. I managed to get quite a decent picture of this tiny church despite all the work and workers’ vans that that were parked all around it. We had seen pretty much all of the important places our guidebook had said we should see so we caught the train and this time went upstairs and was pleased that I had got a seat, facing forward on the side the coast would be on so I could get a few photos of the coastline as we passed it. The carriage filled up and the train set off. It proceeded then in the exact opposite way it had come into the station so we were now travelling backwards and on the wrong side of the train.
When we got back to Cannes we then walked past the Festival Hall where the Cannes Film Festival is held and promenaded all along the coast which we hadn’t done on our Tuesday visit because of the rain. We then walked back to catch the bus and I was able to take the picture I wanted of the fascinating paintings of recognizable film characters which covered the whole side of building overlooking the square in front of the port.
Tomorrow we cross the border into Italy so today we spent most of the day giving Bertha, our old motorhome, a proper wash and brush-up. By that I mean, not just the front back and sides, but there I was on top scrubbing and polishing there as well.
Note to self for the future: first wash the top if you are going to do that and do the sides and front afterwards. Anyway all looks pretty good now and then it was my turn! Out came the clippers and the Barber of Mandelieu cut my hair. That is, Elaine got some more practice being my barber and I had made sure she was wearing her glasses before she started. I now have the proof that Elaine loves and trusts me because I was allowed to take a half an inch off at the back of her neck. I have done many things in my life but that was the scariest thing I have ever had to do. Making sure I got that right would ensure I would have Elaine talking to me for the next days or weeks.