The best recipe for a deliciously decadent death by France cake is three main ingredients: The Eiffel tower, Escargot and champagne, in that order. As no true trip to the land of French romance is complete without many flutes or make those bottles of wine we found ourselves on our second drive day to the Beaujolais wine region of France which is a drive day for those that are curious of up to 6 hours from Paris.
About two hours into the drive we stopped at the chateau of Fontainebleau one of the largest French royal chateaux. With over 1500 rooms set on 130 acres of parkland and gardens Fontainebleau is the only royal and imperial chateau to have been continuously inhabited for seven centuries. The palace as it is today is the work of many French monarchs building on an early 16th century structure of Francis I. The building is arranged around a series of courtyards. The chateau is now home to a school of art, architecture and music for students from the United States.
Driving to the Beaujolais region after the stop at Fontainebleau took about 3 hours, a drive filled with scenery of vineyards upon vineyards, upon vineyards. The Beaujolais wine region in case not clear by now is a historical province and wine producing region. The region is known internationally for its long tradition of wine making. Almost all of the wine produced in the region is red wine from the gamay grape which has a thin skin and is low in tannins.
Our accommodation for the second leg of our France journey was at Contiki’s own chateau; Chateau De Cruix for two nights where we were able to get to know each other better over plenty of wine and cheese. The first night there we had one of our official Contiki parties which was in the basement of the chateau which had been converted into a night club. The next day was a day that included a scenic but very very long hike up to a view point they call “The Top of the World’ needless to say I was the last one to make it up to the view point out of breath and somewhat slightly frazzled and cursing all of the previous nights debauchery however once up there socking up the sun and eating our picnic basket full of fresh French food it made the killer hike all the more worth it.
After two glorious days in the Beaujolais region it was time for an 8am departure to the French Riviera. We travelled for the entire day, until we reached Antibes which lies on the Mediterranean in the Côte d’Azur, located between Cannes and Nice which was where we were staying for the duration of our Florence leg. We had a quick turn over at the hotel just enough time to make yourself look fabulous and then we were off for the night to the country of Monaco.
With an area of 2.02 km2 and a population of 36,371 Monaco is the second smallest city after the Vatican City and the most densely populated country in the world. Monaco has a land border of only 4.4 km , a coastline of 4.1 km , and a width that varies between 1,700 and 349m.
Economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with a railway to France, and the opening of the first casino, Monte Carlo. Since then, the principality’s mild climate, splendid scenery, and gambling facilities have made Monaco world-famous as a tourist and recreation centre for the rich and famous.
A night in Monaco, it’s a tough life but somebody had to do it!