Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Sunday 2 May 2010

Monaco and its version of Europe

I was in Monaco doing some TV reporting yesterday, when I felt that I'd finally stumbled upon the sort of Europe I'd expected to see here, on the other side of the ocean. At least, it felt like one of the few pre-conceived versions of Europe that I'd carried with me on the plane.

I think I'd imagined:
-a rich Europe filled with extravagance, exotic accents and a heavy respect for history
-a poor Europe filled with bicycles, cheap baguettes, crumbling buildings and romance
-and a middle Europe that involved train rides, restaurants and late-night conversations with wine

Yesterday, in Monaco, I caught a glimpse of the extravagant one.

Here is the moment that captured it for me: At one point in the afternoon, I had to speak to a French woman, a Spanish man and an Italian man all at the same time (one in French, the other two with a few words and hand motions), while surrounded by famous pieces of art and the sound of heritage Grand Prix race cars revving their engines around town.

That's after one of the princesses crossed the street behind our car and after we'd parked in a parking lot that was full of European cars I'd never before seen in real life. On the streets were countless police officers, women walking to dinner in high, high heels, and men in blazers, smoking and speaking with different European accents.

Note that I was just observing this extravagance and was not a part of it myself. I don't know if I could ever be. In some ways, it's sort of the opposite of being Canadian.

Regardless, the principality is a funny, funny place. I've got a friend coming from Canada in a few weeks to see Europe. Monaco will definitely be on our tour.

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