We were staying about a 20 minute drive north of Nice, not only for cheaper and nicer accommodation, but also to avoid the traffic in the city.
There was only one thing on our mind for the first day in this part of the world: Monaco. It had been Will’s childhood dream to drive around the streets that make up the F1 track, and today was the day that it was going to happen. It was a Sunday, and so we left early to try to avoid as much traffic as we could. Unfortunately the roads in Nice were impossible to negotiate. We got lost countless times, even with a GPS device and maps. Several arguments and about an hour later we were on the road to Monaco, vowing never to re-enter Nice.
The drive along the coast was stunning, and the views over the Mediterranean were postcard perfect (not that Will cared, or at least he wouldn’t until the way back).
We finally reached Monaco and were very happy to find that being a Sunday meant that there was free parking right in the middle of the city. Perfect! So we parked up and went for a wander. Naturally the way we walked was around the circuit…Sam wanted to take several detours but was told off by a fast striding husband who refused to deviate. The walk showed that as the race was only held the previous weekend, the track was still up and things were only partly dismantled. It also meant that the track could be driven in almost its entire race configuration. So we hopped into the car and went for a drive. I won’t dwell on the details, but it was quite an experience! Sam even got kicked out of the car after a few laps allowing Will a most glorious lap with music of his choosing and volume.
After all of that, and a bit more of a look around, we headed back into France for lunch. We found a beach between Monaco and Menton which suited us perfectly.
On the way back to the hotel however, an unpleasant situation unfolded. European cars have the windscreen wiper stalk and indicator stalk on different sides of the steering wheel than Will is used to, and require feather touches to operate rather than clicking them into position. So, when rounding a corner, he used the wrong stalk which promptly snapped off!! All the electrics stopped with it, meaning we had no windscreen wipers. Great. We spent 30 minutes trying to call the car rental agency from the hotel with no luck, so decided to just drive to Nice airport to get it sorted. Halfway to the airport is when the thunderstorm hit. A proper thunder/lightning/raining-cats-and-dogs thunderstorm with no windscreen wipers. Fun. But we finally got there, got there car fuelled, and got a replacement car which was newer, higher spec, and diesel version of the same car. It would prove to be faster, much more economical (a quarter of the fuel costs) and more comfortable.
An up and down day, but certainly one that ended in several beers on the balcony at the end!