When you say „French Riviera” you think about that geographical zone, blessed by the sun and sweet climate, about the roads that follow the seashore, circulated by exotic cars, about famous places like St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. I was there in summer time and I have visited 2 of the most famous and exotic cities on the French Riviera : Monte Carlo and Nice.
I’ll share with you some of my impressions about Monte Carlo, a city placed in the state of Monaco, a country as big as the city it contains. About Nice, in my next post, a city only few train stations away.
The first contact with Monte Carlo was stepping down the train, in a tunnel-station, placed inside the mountain. To get outside, you go down on a couple of long rolling stairs.
Outside, the climate invites you to dream and relax. This is a confort zone many people dream about : up to 30 degrees C in summer and a minimum of 12 degrees C during winter. As a tourist photographer, by foot is the best way to visit this city – mix of history and modernism within an unusual scenery of hills and mountains that run over the sea, touching the bays full of expensive boats and yachts.
Most of the times it’s best to have a plan, when you plan to visit the most interesting places, but sometimes it’s also great to go with the flow, to simply walk one way and discover the visual, „photographic” opportunities. Going west, I started to climb to the Royal Palace.
You get the most beautiful panoramas – a place rich in elegance and history.
From here, another captivating destination is the Oceanographic Museum, the most important museum in Europe of this specialty, founded by the reformer Albert The First in 1910. This is a wonderful building with classic arhitecture, just close to the sea, full of so many different species of marine ecosystem, featuring an old marine research laboratory, where Albert The First had an essential involvement in its development. The bellevue over the sea and the city you get from the roof of this museum is of a stunning and unique beauty.
After the Royal Palace and the Oceanographic Museum I was heading down to another great panorama, to Hercules Harbor in La Codamine District, where famous Jean-Michel Jarre had a fabulous concert in front of 85 000 people, celebrating Prince Albert’s wedding.
Starting from here, the road starts to climb up into a tunnel. In this tunnel, Formula One cars reach the highest speed during a race of Monaco Grand Prix : about 280 km/h.
The next destination on my list was to reach the Grand Casino of Monaco, a place so much prefered by film-makers and high class gamblers. Build in 1858, this was the major point of interest for tourist and players from all Europe and the whole world. The railways built between France and Monaco was the main mean of economic growth those days.
Those places are highly visited by tourists from around the world – the elegance and luxury of this location are like a magnet for everyone. The expensive cars in front of the casino are themselves a point of attraction.
There were many locations left unvisited and my limited time there offered me limited possibilities for photography. It’s interesting that I walked half a day, half a country, as a tourist photographer – this must certainly be a record.
My way to the railway station passed through many other beautiful places and I have reached again the road, part of Formula One circuit, to the bay with boats and yachts, bathed in the summer sun. It was the time to leave and by then, I realized I had to come back for all those places I did not visit, plus the places I have already visited.
There are meny things to say about the uniqueness and beauty of Monte Carlo. For a photographer, it’s easier to let the photos speak for themselves, those thousand words. Even if French is the official language, you can hear English, Russian, Chinese and Japanese and some more other languages. I left the city with a feeling of accomplishement, over my physical fatigue, enjoying the cool air from the underground railway station. Not the slightest trace of sadness – the train was about to leave for France and my next stop was Nice, another pearl on Côte d’Azur, a beautiful city I’ll talk about in a future post.
All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2015 / www.sebastianboatca.com