Day 10: To Monaco We Go

 

Menton – Èze – Monaco – Menton

June 3, 2019

Breakfast was our first order of business this morning after having the chance to sleep in a bit this morning.  Of course, the coffee machine streak continues–every hotel so far has had an automatic machine offering choices of espresso, cappuccino, cafe au lait, americano, and others. Now I see why it’s called an americano…we really only care about automatic drip or pour-over coffee in most restaurants and workplaces. Europeans take their coffee very seriously!!  I sneaked a baguette and chocolate croissant in a napkin to have as a snack in Monaco later. We were advised that a lot of the places in Monaco were really expensive, so to save a bit, either a grocery store lunch or some food from breakfast would work well.

Our first stop for the day was a perfumery called Fragonard in the town of Èze.  When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly French lady who took us up to a classroom where we learned about making perfume.  Their essential oil of the month was lavender, so we were given 3 different lavender essential oils which we could blend to our liking: “Lavande Azur”, “Lavande Indigo”, and “Lavande Pourpre”. The first two smelled the best in my opinion, and were the normal lavender scents that you would expect to smell. The last one to me smelled like a Coca-Cola flavored icee…very sweet and not much like lavender at all. But then that got me thinking…is lavender one of the secret ingredients of Coca Cola??? Hmm… We were given 3 pipettes with which we could draw oils and put them in a small beaker. We would then use strips of paper to dip in the beaker to test our blend, as directly smelling the bottle would only smell like alcohol (just like testing any cologne or perfume). Once we got the smell we wanted, we poured the small beaker into our tiny spray bottle (12 ml) to take home as a souvenir! It was funny to see how some of the people (mostly the guys) were being super scientific and keeping track of the ratio. I just mixed and poured and hoped for the best!

fragonard perfumery
Fragonard perfumery

Once we all had our custom perfume, we were given a tour of the factory.  At the first stop we learned how they actually extract the essential oil. Basically, they let the substance soak in water and boil it. The steam then flows into another container which they then condense to form the oil.  And we’re talking tons of substance–about 3 pounds of lavender is required for 15mL of lavender essential oil, and about 242,000 rose petals are required for just 5 mL of rose essential oil. This is why perfumes are so expensive! We saw a neat sign that explained where in the world different plants come from to be used to make different essential oils.

“The route of perfumes”: sources for essential oils

She also mentioned that most perfumes that you buy in the store are actually Eau de toilette and are more watered down.  Perfume contains 25% essential oil, Eau de perfume/parfum contains 20%, Eau de toilette contains 15%, and Eau de Cologne 10%. Additionally, she told us that being a “nose” (a perfume craftsman/formulator) requires a massive amount of training through college and beyond.  A nose isn’t even allowed to eat certain foods such as onions and garlic! We saw a workstation where a nose would normally work. 

A nose’s workstation in Fragonard perfumery

She then showed us where they make and produce their soaps, and facial creams. Much of the process is manual, as little automation is involved. There was even someone putting the creams in their boxes. After the tour we had a chance to sample the top seller perfumes and creams. Both Emily and I bought one as a souvenir. The one I got was one of three that are made for men.

Next, we made our way to Monaco! It’s apparently nicknamed the “playground for the wealthy” which seems pretty accurate. Apparently to become a citizen of Monaco, you have to pay €1,000,000 up front, in addition to any visas and other paperwork that might be needed. There is also a 0% unemployment rate in Monaco.  Upon entering we were required to pay a rather hefty tax, just for us to visit! First on the list of places to see was the prince’s palace. On either side of the palace were unforgettable views of the city of Monaco. We explored some of the pretty streets (basically alleyways) with shops, cafes, and neat places before heading back on the coach to see the Monte Carlo casino.

prince's palace
In front of the Prince’s Palace in Monaco

 

charming windows
Charming windows in Monaco

The front of the casino looked extremely fancy, and even had 2 Ferraris parked out front in the valet parking. What was more impressive was the backside, with all of the steps up to the building, plus you could see the original copper roof (corroded of course) and the intricate stone work on the facade.

front of monte carlo
The front side of Casino Monte-Carlo

 

back of monte carlo
The back side of Casino Monte-Carlo

We also saw the famous “hairpin turn”of the grand prix course through the city. We saw 2 Porches and a Ferrari driving the street in the minute we were standing there. The grand prix was held just a few weeks ago, so crews were working hard to take down the grandstands, and also the guardrails that were erected most of the way along the course. It’s hard to imagine racing on those narrow, windy streets at such high speed. Crazy!

hairpin turn
The famous hairpin turn of the Monaco Grand Prix

 

colorful helipad
Colorful helipad in Monaco

We headed back to Menton where we got the evening free to ourselves to spend at our leisure. After a quick nap in the room, we headed out to find something to eat, since all we had for lunch was the snacks from breakfast that we grabbed.  Fortunately, the streets were much more lively than yesterday, with more restaurants and shops open (since yesterday was Sunday…it almost seemed like a ghost town). We found a place called Bouddha Beach that had mostly Italian food. It’s still odd to me how much Italian influence is in this area. We could really only find 1 place that was pure French, more Parisian type food, but it was closed.  I ended up getting a great Lasagne, and Emily got a gigantic calzone. We also split a ½ liter of the house red, which was great! Fortunately, even though the menu was completely in French, the Italian words were pretty easy to recognize. My Lasagne was fantastic, and Emily’s calzone was great except for the fact that it had a raw egg in it. Emily recognized the word “egg” in the description, but didn’t think it would be a raw egg!. Still good though! For dessert I got a coconut chocolate sundae. It had the creamiest ice cream–it could have even been gelato.  The experience of that dinner was awesome, since it overlooked the beach of the Mediterranean and was a perfect temperature outside. Funnily though, there was a seagull that kept visiting us and looking at us begging for food. I’m sure people feel sorry enough for it so that it gets fed pretty well! Satisfied from our dinner, Emily wanted to dip her toes in the sea one more time before we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before our early day tomorrow.

Dinner at Buddha Beach in Menton
Dinner at Buddha Beach in Menton

Step Metrics: 10,949 steps; 5 miles; 494 cal; 1h 58m time

 

Self Q&A

Q: Who/what is the prince of Monaco?

A: The Sovereign Prince or Princess of Monaco is the reigning monarch and head of state of the Principality of Monaco. The present reigning prince is Albert II. Monaco, along with Liechtenstein and Vatican City, is one of only three states in Europe where the monarch still plays an active role in day-to-day politics. The Prince or Princess of Monaco exercises his or her authority in accordance with the Constitution and laws. He or she represents the Principality in foreign relations and any revision, either total or partial, of the Constitution must be jointly agreed to by the Prince and the National Council. Legislative power is divided between the Prince who initiates the laws, and the National Council which votes on them. Executive power is retained by the Prince. The Minister of State and the Government Council are directly responsible to the Prince for the administration of the Principality. Judiciary powers also belong to the Prince. The present Constitution states that the Prince has full authority in the courts and tribunals which render justice in his or her name. “Prince(ss) of Monaco” is a title also given to legitimate members of the princely family of Monaco. It is distinct from the ruling Prince’s title “Sovereign Prince of Monaco” or with the title of the heir apparent or presumptive to the throne, currently Hereditary Prince Jacques. From Wikipedia.

 

Q: What was significant about the wedding?

A: The wedding between Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and Charlene Wittstock took place on July 1st and 2nd 2011 at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco. It has been described as Monaco’s “biggest party in 55 years”, in other words, the biggest since the wedding of Albert’s parents, Rainier III and Grace Kelly (an American film actress) in April 1956. From Wikipedia.

 

Q: Is it French law to cover up construction sites with a mural of the original building?

A: Not that I have found in my research.

 

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