mini grand prix MCYou can dress the kids up in designer clothes, coif their hair and try to turn them into “mini-me(s)” by teaching them the proper dining etiquette but it is not nearly as much fun as letting them drip ice-cream down the front of their jerseys as they enjoy a cone filled with their favorite flavor at a carnival. Working on their attention span to sit through a long fine dining experience is admirable and thoughtful for the guests around you, but they will eventually break out into a temper tantrum if they don’t get to run free at some point during the day. Let the kids burn off some steam and act their age while vacationing with these kid friendly family activities in Monte Carlo.

Chateau Eza walkwayGal Pal Elizabeth and I were dropped off at the bottom of the famous village Eze near Monaco, by taxi for an epic vertical journey in heels for the meal of a lifetime. Something special is how restaurant Château Eza was described, and the town of Eze was pitched as being charming and old-world. “Get there early” and check out the little shops along the way up to the restaurant, was the advice. “Stop at the church near the top for a sweet treat to see a peaceful retreat” another enthusiast chimed in. It was peaceful all right – it was dead quiet. I would put the emphasis on dead because we were nearly dead by the time we arrived at the church and discovered we were only half way to the restaurant.

IMG_4186Souvenir - means "memory" literally in French. The best souvenirs stimulate your trip memories and remind you of the places you visited while giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling. Sometimes a French souvenir can be edible and therefore fleeting, but powerful at the time of tasting. Buying souvenirs for family and friends back home can prove challenging, but if you keep in mind that it is the thought that counts, then souvenir hunting won't be too taxing. See my favs for this year here:

Cave de l'originale interiorWhen I asked Elénor, the concierge at the Palais de la Méditerranée, for a recommendation for a local restaurant that cooked dishes of the region with fresh ingredients, she did not hesitate for a second. She responded, "Where to eat in Nice? Why of course, Cave de l’Origine is the best for local cuisine" so Gal Pal Elizabeth and I made prompt reservations for a casual and excellent dinner that did not disappoint. The cuisine in southern France differs quite a bit from its northern counterparts. Heavily influenced by its Italian neighbors and Greek descendants, Nice’s local dishes contain fresh ingredients from the soil. Olives, tomatoes, shallots and garlic play heavily into the makeup of the famous local favorite “Niçoise stew.”

[caption id="attachment_7138" align="alignleft" width="300"]July 2013 Gal Pals July 2013 Gal Pals[/caption] On this second to last day of summer, I am remembering Monet's Gardens and the warm sunshine heating up the luscious green earth outside Paris in Giverny, France. The only ones more sad than me to see the flowers fade from the landscape are the busy bees who kept the pollination process going and now must accept that winter is fast approaching. As the leaves fall and wool coats are dusted off, I am reminiscing about my visit to the vibrant gardens of the most masterful painter of water lilies in history. To see the lilies from the same vantage points as Monet was a dream come true.

[caption id="attachment_7078" align="alignleft" width="300"]Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea Colorful buildings contrasted with the bright blue sea[/caption] Old Town Nice has deep and complicated roots beginning with Greek civilization and provides us with some of the best sightseeing in Nice and France. According to Wikipedia, "Nice (Nicaea) was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks of Massilia (Marseille), and was given the name of Νικαία ("Nikaia") in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike is the Greek goddess of victory)". A long sordid history ensued and the people of Nice were co-mingled with roots from their Greek ancestors, Italian neighbors and seafarers who landed upon their shores and never left. The port of Nice was one of the busiest in the world and thus was a target for power-thirsty conquerors throughout the ages.