Sorry, we’re a bit backed up on our blogging – we were having too much fun cycling and touring in France to sit on the computer editing photos and writing blog posts. We’re home now, and working on catching up. More coming soon…
Wow, what a concept – biking to Monaco! From here in Port Alberni it is 40 km to the next town east, and 110 km to the next town west. But from Nice, it’s only 20 km to the next country!! (And only 16 km beyond that to Italy). The Principality of Monaco is only barely a country (4 km long, and much of it only 400-500 m wide) but it is recognized by the UN.
Anyway, after hearing about this legendary place for years, we were both pretty excited about riding there. (We were riding graphite Trek Madone road bikes that we had rented). We didn’t have a map, but we figured that if we just rode east along the water, we’d get there… hoping that the roads we found would be somewhat bike-friendly. What an adventure!
Setting out from Nice, it was a bit hazy, but very hot and muggy. We had beautiful weather our whole time in Nice – always hot, usually muggy too, but great for riding.
There were coastal villages our whole way, one bordering on the next. The only way you could tell you passed from one to the next was by the road signs. This one is Villefranche-sur-mer, which borders on the east side of Nice.
And here WE are, happy to be out on this adventure together!
The route was nearly all along coastline. The only time we didn’t see the sea was when we passed through the village centres. And the coastline became cliffier and cliffier as we progressed…
Their were signs for Monaco at every intersection, so we had no trouble finding our way. And even though there was quite a lot of traffic on the roads, the drivers were really respectful, and clearly very accustomed to driving with bikes sharing the road.
As the shoreline became more rugged, we had to pass through some tunnels. I liked these tunnels!
In this spot, a long tunnel went through the rocky point (Cap Estel). We didn’t have lights, and it looked pretty scary to ride. Fortunately there was a walking/cycling route around the cape – from which we could look down on this lovely hotel! No one seemed to be staying there. Weird.
So we continued along… and after all the signs indicating the beginning/end of each little village in France, we suddenly realized that we are IN Monaco! No sign or anything!! And, next thing you know, we are getting sucked into this big tunnel system, with underground roundabouts and everything. (Land is at a premium in Monaco – the whole country is only 2 square km! So I guess they have to build their highways underground). I did NOT like this tunnel.
So we went through a few dimly lit roundabouts with cars speeding all around, and then spied a bit of light to our right. We turned, dragging our bikes under a metal gate, and emerged… here!
We locked our bikes up and wandered around town – found this AMAZING pasta restaurant. And we were pleasantly surprised to find that meals weren’t outrageously expensive (as we had feared).
Then we strolled down to the harbour, where there were all of these amazingly expensive yachts. Huge! And a beautiful 50 m outdoor pool right on the harbourfront.
After strolling around admiring crazily expensive yachts, we got back on the bikes and rode up the hill to the royal palace. Here’s a view of the harbour. That 50 m swimming pool is big enough that it is drawn to scale on the Monaco country map…. it must occupy a significant percentage of the country’s land area!!
And here we are again… really enjoying our day! Adventure doesn’t have to be wilderness… the adventure of this trip was just that everything was unknown, unexpected.
Now up top – this is the entrance to the royal palace. I rode back on my own a few days later (the day that Dave was racing) and this whole area was crammed full of people (a giant cruise ship was in). But the day that Dave and I were there, it was really peaceful.
- You can really see why this area, where the palace is, was originally a fortress. It’s perched up top of a narrow cliffy point, easy to defend with cannons, and with protected harbours on both sides.
Bikes and cannonballs… not a picture you can take just anywhere!
And then back to Nice in time for an evening glass of wine up at the old Citadel, overlooking the port. What a great day!