I left my heart in Monaco…

Ah, what bliss! I’m in France – woohoo!! It’s been bloody fantastic so far, I have to say. The flight was good, apart from a particularly rough take-off. I’m not the best flyer in the world but when the whole plane gasps aloud as the plane jolts back down a few feet it’s very un-nerving. I made it to Nice in one piece though, and met up with the lady who’s apartment I’ve rented for the week. It’s lovely, in the Musician’s Quarter about a 7 minute walk from the beach. Right now, I’m sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon sun – it doesn’t get much better.

I’ve found it quite nice being in my own company, and I’ve been speaking French every day. I negotiated my way to Grasse on the train alone, strolling around the tiny maze like streets and soaking in the atmosphere. I’d wanted to go ever since I saw Perfume: Story of a Murder (not because of the story but because it looked so beautiful). I did rather imagine at least a few fields of lavender around but no. Still, it was a lovely little place. On Wednesday night, I went t a restaurant for dinner, the first time since i’d arrived as I’d bought supplies from a nearby supermarket. I’d had lunch alone, no problem, but not dinner. Not even in London. And, you know what? It was fine. More than fine, in fact, it was great. I chatted to the waiters, ate a good dinner and watched the world go by, and there were a few lone diners dotted about so I didn’t feel out of place. Wednesday also happened to be a bank holiday, one of the most important in France, so it was absolutely heaving! Over dinner, fireworks were let off across the bay and as I walked back to the apartment in the middle of the road along with hundreds of thousands of other people, I had the goosebump moment:

This was actually for real. I was really in France after months of planning. And I felt immensely proud. Ok, so travelling to a neighbouring country and dining alone might not be the most difficult thing to do, but for me, it was epic. I went home with a smile on my face.

Yesterday, I went to Monaco – possibly the beautifullest place I’ve been to yet. I absolutely adored it. As soon as I stepped off the train and walked down to the port, my jaw dropped open and it stayed that way all day.

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I’ve never been a fan of yachts. I don’t like being out at sea and I just didn’t see the point of them. I do now. These things were amazing, like actual houses on water. The size of some of them took my breath away and with Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s parked up outside them, it made me wonder just how rich you have to be to own one. A lot of them were marked as being from Georgetown and when I saw a family just chilling, having lunch (including a boy of about 3), it just brought it home how different my world was to this one. For the rest of the day, I wandered around Monte-Carlo and ogled at the Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s and Maserati’s parked up outside the casino. I took lunch in Cafe de Paris and eavesdropped on the conversation of my neighbours (very yah dahling, I’m going to take the chopper to the Amalfi Coast tomorrow) and then went to wander around the exotic gardens in the royal palace. Literally every angle made me sigh with pleasure. It was so beautiful, so clean, so peaceful, so…everything. And the fact it cost only 7 euros to get there was the icing on the cake.

So, my sightseeing is done for the week. It’s really tiring walking up and down hills all day in the sweltering heat. Even first thing in the morning is ridiculously warm and I’ve tanned to within an inch of my life.

But, I am loving it. On Monday, I start my volunteering in Languedoc…I’m excited to meet my hosts and get down to some work!

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