A winter tale from Monaco

Christmas in the South of France? Yes please. This year it’s been warm sunshine, crisp and clear blue sky, fresh mountain air, and clear roads leading to Monaco.

The summer wannabes have all gone, making way for a simple, yet sophisticated winter holiday maker – perhaps even allowing the locals to enjoy their own principality. Summer or winter, we love the window shopping, the cars, and the outdoor swimming pool located harbour side. In the Summer, we soak up the sun, and cool down with a dip in the salt water pool, all the while having the multi-million dollar yachts in our sights.

Come winter, la piscine located by the main harbour becomes an ice rink and this year it is surrounded by an international Christmas market. We can smell the churos, waffles, and hot chocolate. Burgers, pizza, kebab, crepes and Nutella – need I go on? I indulge in an Italiano Fondant hot chocolate drink which is so thick it comes with a spoon. The Monaco Christmas market is on until the 2nd of January 2012.

Aptly located by the Café de Paris and the world famous Casino, is Chanel, Lanvin, Prada, Gucci, and Valentino boutiques. The window displays are classically stunning, and I start snapping away, all the while sneaking a peak inside the store where I see a rather bored looking store assistant waiting, waiting, waiting. In 2005 I proudly strutted into the Prada store and purchased a wallet, so I know the feeling of complete Prada satisfaction.

Seeing a Valentino window is a feminine thing of beauty. Glass cake domes have been used to display shoes, baubles, and heavily jewel-embellished clutches. This season, Valentino is all about gold, nude, champagne and cream with a splash of black. While Lanvin goes for a ‘holiday’ statement of ruby red seen at this year’s Paris Fashion Week – note the hat.

A Porsche Panamera (the ‘sensible’ turbo-charged saloon) pulls in effortlessly outside the door to Prada, and a family of four glides into the store. I drag out my window browsing just so I can see how many bags they will be carrying once finished. Outside Cafe de Paris a UAE registered, partially chrome-wrapped Maserati Quattroporte, nestles amongst the usual German marques. It was a very sunny day which made it all the more perfect for passers-by to not only admire it, but to check their make up and hair. And looking a little out of place, yet attracting a lot of attention is a burnt orange Dodge Challenger complete with twin black racing stripes.

We do the necessary walk along the famous Grand Prix circuit through the tunnel and around the hair-pin all the while fingers crossed that a Ferrari will scream through. We get to the hair pin, and finally we see our first Ferrari – being sensibly driven? This is so tame. Monaco can be a little dull at the best of times. There are only so many sun-kissed, almost orange in colour girls and guys that take the best seats on the terrace that I can take in the summer, and all I can ever afford is a postcard, a stamp to Australia, and an espresso. There was a distinct lack of convertible Bentley’s and two-door Ferraris repeatedly seen in the summer and instead replaced with a handful of uber-cool cars.

I write my postcard to Australia with a brief round up of my Monaco tales and pop it in the post just as the postman arrives to clear it for the day. Phew! In most cases when you buy a postcard you will be asked if you want a stamp, and what is really cool is that you can buy a stamp to any country. UK, take note – queuing in the Post Office is ridiculous, especially when the queue goes on out the door.

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