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28 June 2009

Enjoy an orientation tour of Nice with your tour manager this morning. See the city's many sights, including Cimiez, then continue to the hilltop village of St. Paul de Vence, home of the painter Marc Chagall. Enjoy afternoon exploration time in Nice to discover the Old Town or catch some sun on the beach.

(I don't know why I'm leaving in these tour descriptions, because we pretty much haven't followed the itinerary ever since day 1!)

Today was our day to tour Monaco. After breakfast here in the hotel, we boarded the bus again and made our way out of town. Some had gone down to the beach early in the morning because there is a Triathlon going on today and they were able to watch some of it.

The drive to Monaco took awhile but the scenery was spectacular. I'm not really much into the "lives of the rich and famous" and can get tired of ostentation pretty quickly, but this was definitely worth seeing, even if only for the yachts in the harbor. My God are those impressive!

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We went first to the palace grounds, walked through the garden and up to the chapel, where Ranier and Grace (and all of Ranier's ancestors) are buried, and then onto the grounds in front of the palace itself. The view is, of course, spectacular. Ian generously gave us 30 minutes, I think, to enjoy ourselves and then to meet back at the "yellow submarine," which sits in front of the Oceanographic Institute that Jacques Cousteau used to head up.

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They are getting ready to start the Tour de France here, so the shops are all full of memorabilia of the race and the town filled with banners and posters. We will miss it (perhaps fortunately), as we will be in Italy when the race starts in Monaco the first week of July.

From the palace, we went to the Casino in Monte Carlo, a place that held absolutely NO interest for me. Some of the others went in and played the slots for a few minutes, but it was not the 30 minute stop that Ian had expected (I suspect maybe it was he who wanted to play the slots!)

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Next was the place I'd been dreading, the hilltop town of Eze. It's very high up and the only way to get there is to walk, so Char and I opted out and found a nice place to sit on a bench in the shade and just talk. It was delightful. So nice not to feel rushed!

Then we drove to Fragonard, a perfume factory, and had a tour (no cameras allows in the factory). Very interesting. I had never thought about how perfume was made before...it's even more complex than wine making! I think we all came away with some purchases. I bought Jeri a little soap duck, which is hand-painted...and one for me too.

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Ian had hoped to take us somewhere else, but is saving that for tomorrow. Instead we headed back to Nice. The younger ones went back to the beach to check out the Triathlon, I laid down on the bed and slept for nearly 3 hours.

I thought I was to wait for the group to meet at 7 to go to dinner, but Shirley and Jenny (sisters from the Danville area) came in, having had dinner and saying they had just seen Char and Pat at a cafe. They took me there and I joined them. Char and I each had the "salad royale," which was a HUGE plate of smoked salmon and three enormous prawns (still with head and feelers attached...which is why I entitled this entry "why is my dinner looking at me"?) We sat there eating this glorious food and listening to an accordionist seranading us with La Vie en Rose. How much more "French" can you get?

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We came back to the hotel and sat in the courtyard for a while regaling Shirley and Jenny with tales of our many camping adventures over the years!

We will have most of tomorrow free, after our town visit early in the day, and we plan to go down to the beach and send the last of Michele's ashes out into the Mediterranean. She dreamed of going to France and never made it while she was alive, but she has had a great trip so far and we will leave her here when we go to Italy the next day.


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My dinner in Nice (I couldn't finish nearly all of it!)


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