I’m really grateful to have friends who are spread out across the globe, which gives a unique chance to visit places in the eyes of a local. While I was in Italy, I took a weekend trip to Monaco to visit one of my closest friends, Christophe.
Christophe took me to Nice, where we strolled the Avenue des Anglais and admired the gorgeous beachside. We wandered through the alleyways of Old Nice and grabbed a quick bite at Lou Pilha Leva (10 rue du Collet). Lou Pilha Leva is a super casual restaurant where you just walk up to the counter, order and eat at the communal outdoor tables. This small place serves local specialities, petit farcis and socca. Petit farcis is basically stuffed vegetables and socca is a chickpea pancake. In Italy, they also make socca at a lot of pizza restaurants, but it’s called farinata (a good option for gluten-intolerant eaters).
Not far from Nice is the city of Èze. Èze is a medieval city on top of small hill. For a few euros, you can enter the Jardin botanique d’Èze where you can admire the gorgeous panoramic views (and the cactus and succulents garden). Apparently, the garden used to be a favorite destination for Walt Disney.
By far, one of the coolest experiences of my life was going to the movies at the Monaco Open Air Cinema (Ave de la Quarantaine). In San Francisco, when they talk about outdoor movies in the summer, it’s normally a classic movie that is open to the public and you just create your own make-shift picnic and watch. When Christophe suggested going to the Open Air Cinema, that was my initial expectation.
It is SO much cooler than San Francisco park movies. Open Air Cinema, which is only available in the summer, always plays current blockbuster hits in English (with French subtitles). When you arrive, your ticket price is dependent on the level of comfort of your chair. We splurged for the white chairs with red cushions (18 EUR) and it was so worth that extra money. Christophe and I got our own private table and little foot stools to rest our feet on. You can buy drinks and snacks and just enjoy the whole atmosphere. It felt surreal that I was watching Pixar’s “Inside Out” while sipping on a glass of rosé in Monaco. If you happen to be in Monaco during the summer, I highly recommend going to the movies at the Open Air Cinema!
Considering that it was like 90 degree weather, our second day was spent at the beach. The beaches in the French Riviera are very different from the ones in California. First of all, there is no sand, only gravel and rocks. The locals are used to it, but it’s actually slightly painful to walk on barefoot. I could not believe how incredibly clear the water was. You can really see through all the way to the bottom. Given how salty the water is, Christophe pointed out that you can actually float in it more easily. I had not been to the beach in years and it felt so nice to relax in the cool water on such a hot day.
It was the perfect weekend. I got to catch up with a close friend, explore Monaco and the south of France, and just relax. It’s a beautiful locale and I really recommend visiting if you’re in the area. A big thank you to Christophe for showing me around!