I've been to Monte Carlo three times now but I feel like I've discovered a different part of Monaco on each trip. This time, we did minimal shopping other than a quick dip into the tiny Zara store and Hermes. My major gripe about these so called luxury stores is that their service is very inconsistent. It's dependent on the store and the sales associate. Mine preferred to gossip with her colleague while I tried on a bracelet. Not cool at all. Heads up for Hermes addicts - if leather bracelets are your thing, then you'll be pleased to know that there are Kelly Dogs and Collier de Chien galore in neutral and the latest colors.
I loved the Japanese garden which felt like a calm oasis amidst the crowded beach. That was until large and aggressive tour groups invaded the park, promptly ignored all the carefully displayed signboards and shouted at us to get our of their way so that they can take photos.
Everything was so picture perfect that I felt like I'd stepped into a movie set. It was wonderful being transported into what I felt was an alternate universe where you see eye-watering wealth being displayed blatantly in a glamorous setting. Just so you know, that Repossi diamond was bigger than my eyeball.
You'd think that I'd get a chance to be a pretend megazillionaire for a day and people watch (as you do in Monte Carlo) in a nice restaurant. But no, the husband and child wanted McDonald's. No, you did not misread the fine print. Why, I hear you ask? Because HE wanted the French Tintin DVD and SHE wanted the small Little Pet Shop. Pffffffffffftttttt.........!
The view of Villefranche sur mer from the top is striking and stops you dead in your tracks. If you're taking the bus 100, I suggest you get off at Madone Noire stop (after Leopold II if you're coming from Nice) which gives you a bird's eye view of the town, Beaulieu sur mer and the peninsula. Colorful terraced houses perch on the hill with steps leading down to the beach. It's a little more rustic compared to the likes of Beaulieu-sur-mer or Monte Carlo but far more picturesque and charming. It's wonderful to wander around aimlessly and explore every cranny and nook of the little town.
If you're using Nice as a base, you can hop on Bus 100 to Villefranche sur mer, Beaulieu sur mer, Eze sur mer (take another bus to the village on the hilltop), Monte Carlo and its final stop at Menton. Bus 400 to Paul de Vence and Vence. Bus 200 to Cannes. Bus 500 to Grasse. Bus 98 to Nice Airport.
Click here for more information about the buses. The current fare per journey is €1.50 and you must remember to validate your ticket on the little machine inside the bus or else you may get a fine.