I’ve been rather quiet on the blog lately. Please accept my sincere apologies. I have discovered that it is very difficult to just sit down and write all day. The mind grows numb after 5 hours. At least, my mind does. And I have been writing a lot lately because I was recently selected by AFAR magazine to create a guide to Monaco for their website. I was so flattered! They hire real writers, like Susan Orleans, and they were selecting me. I didn’t hesitate in replying with a loud YES! Typing as loudly as one can through the liquid crystal filter of a computer screen.
Before the writing, I needed to do some researching. I started immediately, reaching out to the tourist office and the Societe des Bains de Mer, the country’s largest employer that seems to be involved in every aspect of Monaco tourism. Days later, I found myself invited to the inauguration of the Pavillons Monte Carlo, a temporary luxury shopping center that was built as a centerpiece of sustainability. Even more incredible than an invitation to write for AFAR, and the opportunity to visit Monaco, I would be attending an event with SAS Prince Albert II. Totally ridiculous, but I was feeling pretty chuffed about the whole thing.
Then I started to panic about hat to wear. Thanks to the discerning eye of Mr French, I have a great wardrobe, but I was going to be hanging with the rich and famous of the world. I called a friend and she invited me to her new company the ELSS Collection, a company that rents the season’s latest designer fashion to women in my situation. Or women who have packed too lightly for the extravagant meal they have reserved in Paris, or women who are just curious what it feels like to wear high fashion on a low budget. This is starting to sound like a plug for her business, but Susan really is a friend and I genuinely had a great time trying on all the fun fashion at ELSS. I even pick up a dress for the big event and another for dinner later. Fun pieces by Kenzo that I would never buy, because they may be out of fashion in a year, but was thrilled to wear for an evening.
Dress ready, I was on my way. I had a busy day In Monaco, visiting insider haunts, exploring local favorites and doing the tourist thing. Suddenly, it was time to dress. In a moment of extreme anti-climax, it took me two minutes and I was ready to go.
The weather was gorgeous. It had rained the weekend before, it would rain again in 48 hours, but tonight, the weather gods were in total cooperation with Princely desires for this outdoor event. The fountain was bubbling along joyfully with the British brass band, women were handed a whimsical posey as we arrived. I was thrilled to see that I fit right in with the ritzy crowd. I was a lone, but not at all lonely, there was just too much to see, gorging myself on this internationally flavoured eye candy.
The Prince arrived and it was a fun feeling being on the other side of the red rope, tourists clamouring for a photo op. On our side of the rope, blasé regulars were also shooting away, the man next to me raising his sleeve, the secret spy camera on his watch making that “pshut, pshut” sound, just like in the movies. A surreal moment with James Bond’s Casino de Monte Carlo as a back drop.
There were speeches. Mercifully short and to the point, boasting about the 90 species of trees that had been carefully cultivated to fill this commercial space with oxygen, the LED lights that would be beautiful, but also reduce light pollution and energy consumption. This was my kind of crowd after all! The prince cut the floral (compostable!) ribbon and a cloud of butterflies was released into the air. Breath taking.
Champagne corks popped and I was interested to note that the Monegasque were serving Perrier Jouet. Shockingly, I was not drinking, as I had a full schedule of decadent meals for the weekend and was saving myself. I was not the only teetotaler. Many of us were competing the few glasses of water available on each tray and the house had anticipated we’d be there, serving a delicious cocktail of kiwi, green apple and ginger.
As the evening progressed, we were invited to explore the shops that would fill the space over the next four years. Everything we find in Paris; Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Balenciaga. Some stunning diamonds caught my eye. Not that I am in the market for diamonds, but I had remembered these diamonds from a Cartier show I had seen at the Grand Palais earlier this year. WOW! It is not every day I see a tiara for sale.
Slowly, my feet came back to earth, landing on the soft ground and carrying me happily back to my hotel for a dinner with a view.