From the Côte d’Azur


Eze, from a distance
The village of Eze, against a Mediterranean bay of the Côte d’Azur in the south of France
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


Up early this morning and off the ship by tender.  We spent some time walking in the older part of Nice, and then climbed to the spectacular town of Eze.


From there, we drove to Monaco, where we had lunch and visited the palace of the Grimaldi “sovereign family” that has reigned here since the thirteenth century.


I’ve always been amused by disdain that “old money” British aristocrats in the nineteenth century often expressed for the nouveau riche, the newly rich, who had obtained their wealth relatively recently and, ugh!, through trade.  At least trade rests, ideally and typically, upon productive effort and/or voluntary exchange.  The ancestors of most of the aristocrats, by contrast, had achieved their wealth through plunder, brigandage, and murder.  Their status had merely been sanctified by the passage of many generations, but, if anybody’s hands were and are soiled, it’s not honest tradesman.  It’s the counts and dukes and kings and princes.  For many centuries, they basically ran a protection racket, and acted like feuding mafiosi, or the Crips and the Bloods, or the Sharks and the Jets.  They usually produced nothing.


A case in point:  The Grimaldis are said to have gained control of the castle of Monaco at the end of the 120os by masquerading as traveling friars.  The owners of the castle granted them hospitality and, during the night, Francis Grimaldi and his cronies got up and killed their hosts.  What an honorable beginning to the dynasty!  The story is disputed, but it may well be true.


After the palace, we walked to Monaco’s cathedral, where the famous and famously beautiful Princess Grace (formerly the American actress Grace Kelly) and her husband, Prince Rainier III, are buried.


Finally, we drove over to Monte Carlo, where we had a look at the famous Casino — and at the Beautiful People and  the Bentleys and Rolls Royces and Maseratis in its immediate vicinity.  Hard not to think of James Bond.


Plainly, I was born a peasant and will die one.


Posted from off the Italian Riviera



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