Cannes, Nice & Monaco, France/Monaco
It was fantastic to wake up next to the water outside of Marseille, eating breakfast while taking in the calm, blue seas. Unfortunately we couldn't spend all day there, so we packed up and drove on to Cannes. A long, boring drive, with one stop at an all-in-one supermarket/department store. I managed to find a small dustbuster to clean the carpet in our van. Now I just need to find a power point to charge it.
Cannes was not campervan friendly. All along the water there were signs stating no parking for campervans - I guess this was a popular spot for tourists that the locals weren't so happy about. With some searching we spotted a place to stop on a side street. We walked along the water for a while, looking out at the hundreds of people in lounge chairs on the beach. If it was this busy in spring I can't imagine how hectic it would be in summer. There was also some sort of large expo on, which may have inflated the numbers. We could sort of see how some people would love Cannes, but it was too crowded and too expensive for our tastes. Not somewhere to go if you're looking for a quiet, idyllic beach getaway.
There wasn't much to see or do in Cannes so we continued on to Nice. Nice was only half an hour up the road but the traffic was terrible. We pulled into a car park and made dinner while we waited for the traffic to die down (goat's cheese pizza – one of my favourites). It was washed down with a bottle of cider we found in a supermarket. 90 cents for 750 ml - bargain. Once it was dark the roads became driveable again, so we headed up to Nice and parked on the main coastal road a couple of kilometres out of town. This probably wasn't the best place to stop, as every car that went past shook the van. We had no patience left to search for another car park, so we stayed put. It felt a little like we were on a boat or a train again. Needless to say, we didn't get the best night's sleep.
In the morning walked along the sea, which was mercifully quiet and therefore beautiful. We then wandered inland to the old city and found a street market with tons of fruit and veggies (Danny's favourite). We walked up and down random streets, bought delicious pastries at a bakery and passed a multitude of cafes and plazas. This section of Nice didn't look as glitzy or expensive as the coast - I was glad there was more to Nice than the beach.
After Nice it was on to Monaco. Of course there was no way we were going to find a park in this country (all the "no campervans" signs made that quite clear). Our only solution was to drive a few metres (literally metres) back into France, where there was no discrimination against a car of our size. The only issue was that it was a long way up the cliff from the water. Monaco is obviously a country full of money, and one thing they had spent that money on was outdoor elevators and escalators. Travelling up and down the steep mountains was a breeze. There are several other cities who could adopt a similar method of transportation.
One of our first thoughts was how clean everything was, followed quickly by how expensive everything was. There was also a distinct lack of beggars. We didn't plan on staying long, partly because there wasn't much to see but mostly because we felt our wallets draining with every step. We walked down to the water, passed a dog show (it definitely felt like a place that would have regular dog shows) then up one level to a plaza. Danny then went his own way, mostly so he didn't have to climb any hills that I was happy enough to venture up. I walked up a mountain to see the Prince's palace and state apartments; Danny wandered over to the famous hotel/casino Monte Carlo. I was rewarded with views over Monaco; all Danny saw was lines of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys out the front of the casino.
Being Good Friday and right near the water we thought we could have fish and chips for lunch. We left Monaco and drove into France, stopping at seaside towns along the way. Not one place sold fish and chips. There were pizzerias on every block but no fish shop. I had no idea how British fish and chips were, but I quickly learnt my lesson. Sandwiches it was then.