We have decided to move on to Nice today -
Last night we had drinks at the Bar Americaine in the Hotel Paris. Hotel lore has it that the bar has been patronized by the likes of U.S. Grant, Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers), Aristotle Onassis, Grace Kelly, and of course, Bond – James Bond.
Hotel de Paris is an elegant hotel built at the end of the 19th century. Its lobby is replete with marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and dark wood panelling. The bar has been updated, but you can still see the rich, dark wood and marble bar of the original structure. Waitstaff are all in impeccable suits, and you can barely put down an empty glass or petite bowl of snacks before it is discreetly whisked away and refilled. Across the room, we even saw, beneath one table, a small silver bowl of water for one bar patron’s little dog. (Yes, in France it is perfectly OK to bring one’s well-behaved doggie into any restaurant or bar. Tres civilized!)
As we prepare this morning to leave Monaco, I look out from our balcony into the harbor and see two baby ocean liners docked there – they are surely private yachts. If, as the saying goes, money talks, the language is Monégasque. Everywhere we went yesterday, there is evidence of opulence here, from the extremely high-end dress shops like Prada and Channel, to the Bentleys, Rolls Royces, and Porches that travel the streets. Of course, there are the tiny motor scooters and cars that also travel the roads – I guess the wealthy do need their people to wash windows, clean bathrooms, etc. There is not much of a middle class in Monaco that I can see.
Why is all this wealth concentrated into the small principality of Monaco? Bien sur – as our Parisian friends wryly pointed out before we left to come here – there are no taxes on wealth in Monaco!
The next time I hear someone prattle on about how the U.S. has become such a money-worshipping, consumer society – I will smile, and reply, “Mm, yes, but have you ever been to Monaco?”