A Mere Mistake – Voila! – Monaco
First, let me rush to tell you that I know Monaco is not France, but please … bear with me. My daughter and I were driving along the “Moyenne Corniche” to visit the village of Eze in the South of France. It was a cool, sunny morning, and I couldn’t wait to introduce her to one of my favorite spots on earth. We had plenty of time to enjoy the village, before returning to Nice to catch a 3:00 train back to Paris.
Hmm … I missed the turn to Eze, and the next exit was Monaco. We found ourselves hurtling forward on the autoroute through a very long tunnel and around curve after curve, as if Monaco were a magnet that would not let go. What were we to do?
We simply followed the line of traffic and ended up in a parking garage beneath the Oceanographic Museum. We ascended an elevator and escalator to discover that the beautiful museum is poised high above the Mediterranean, as if the building grows out of the cliff at the water’s edge.
We knew our time was limited, but there was no way we were going to land in Monaco without exploring. We wandered along pedestrian lanes past the most tastefully painted buildings we had ever seen. We peeked through doorways at quaint restaurants readying for lunch customers. We were struck by the cleanliness and soft pastel palette of colors.
After only a few minutes, we found ourselves in a large plaza across from – “Is THAT the palace?” Indeed it was, and we moved forward to an incredible sight – the changing of the guard. It most assuredly was a pinch-me moment – losing our way, landing in the principality of Monaco and witnessing the elegant guards change watch. Only a glimpse of Prince Albert II might have surpassed that moment.
We later learned that the ceremony takes place every day promptly at 11:55 in front of the royal entrance. In full dress uniform, the guards perform in a tradition that has not changed for more than a century.
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