Monte Carlo, Monaco

I’m never sure whether to call this place the city of Monte Carlo or the country of Monaco, because they’re almost the same thing. The city nearly completely fills the valley that is this country. In fact, from our cabin I’m pretty sure we can see houses in France and Italy on either side.

At 12:30pm we took a tender to the luxury yacht-packed harbor and climbed the hill to the casino and hotel for our lunch at Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV restaurant. The ornate dining room, originally the tea room, is little changed from its appearance upon opening in 1864. Lunch was a prix fixe multi-course affair that came with our choice of wine, and the red provincial blend of cabernet and syrah was delicious.

The main course of chicken was a bit disappointing for a three-star Michelin restaurant, not nearly as good as the one we had two weeks ago at his bistro in New York. The stand out courses were the bread (so many to choose from!) cheeses (a real stinky cheese cart, with the best Epoisses I’ve tasted) and the foie gras terrine.

After lunch we strolled around up on the hill for a while and then returned to the ship. On the way we passed through a carnival set up for Halloween weekend, I suppose. It was busy with children and teenagers. We were struck by how the attractions on the midway were so similar to the Florida State Fair, except the barkers were all speaking French. Linda couldn’t resist the tug of the claw machines, and after a few tries won an adorable pink hedgehog. It was much more fun and more rewarding than a visit to the casino, I’m sure!

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