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Monaco

May 27th, 2011

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Monaco is set into France, tucked into the mountains on the coast. I will say that the views are exceptional, the city spotless, the architecture a range from Victorian to Jugenstil to Art Deco to Modern.

I think I can safely say that the rich, the extremely wealthy, are not like the rest of us. I am not speaking of the landed British Gentry who are house poor, dressed in old tweeds and sturdy shoes doddering around mouldering old estates.

Rather, of those who have made the money themselves in this generation or live in that style. It might be without flair and paparazzi but still there is a difference. It means that you don’t think anything of having a wonderful flat in Monaco complete with wrap around balcony, marble floors, chrome and glass tables and rich cream padded fabric walls. It is the kind of place featured in Architectural Digest or House Beautiful. You could clean it yourself in no time, but the owners of such a place have a service which does such things. Everything is simple, modern, elegant. Art on the wall, sculpture in the living room.

What is missing is the stuff of average middle class lives. There are no piles of debris, clutter or mounds of crafts or books. The other detritus that says someone lives there on a daily basis which all of us have is conspicuously absent. It is elegant, beautiful, decorated to within inch of its life and in my mind a bit sterile. It is the life style that thinks nothing of a dinner for 2-4 which costs more than my monthly food budget.

But then, I think the main business in Monaco is separating the wealthy from their money. Whether it be clothing shops, florists, restaurants or casinos. Why charge 3-5€ for a pair of socks when 16€ will do? But then I challenge you to find a 3 pack of anything in this Principality much less a common daisy. Name brands adorn all the clothing that is not obviously bespoke. I will admit being less than comfortable in a shopping area whether the average person walking by is sporting more spent on their personal clothing (including shoes and handbags) than I make in a month – prior to retirement.

The wealthy are different. I think I will stay with my Grandmother’s recommendations – Esther’s that the way to have money is not to spend it and Anne’s not to pay retail.

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  1. May 31st, 2011 at 12:48 | #1

    Now here, Holly dear, is a territory I know well. You saw the façade. I used to spend 3 months a year in Monaco, frequently with 5-6 children on summer vacations. There is a middle class in Monaco, and even a working class. There are flats that rent very reasonably in good locations (the place is so small that a bad location is hard to find). There are restaurants which are not that expensive. The market in the port is wonderful, or you can just skip over to the Ventimiglia market to stock up. Bought summer clothes for the kids in shops on the side streets near the port, as reasonably as anywhere.

    One thing I found missing was a good doctor. I had a very sick child who was getting worse and worse under a doctor’s care there. He was treating her with antibiotics. After 3 weeks and 8 visits, I took her to another doctor in Nice who immediately diagnosed mono, for which you should not give antibiotics. There was some talk that if only they had taken Princess Grace to Nice, she might have survived.

    I do know that many of the “rich and famous” (particularly Italians) leave their really big jewelry in bank vaults in Monte Carlo and only wear them there, since it is considered very safe. You are so right that they don’t have crafts and clutter. Odd, isn’t it?

    • June 1st, 2011 at 14:58 | #2

      According to the people I know there – they said things have changed drastically in the last ten years. Monaco is not terribly affordable any more and most of the work force has since moved to France as the inexpensive buildings have been torn down in favor of new construction that can be sold off at an incredible rate.

  2. Cheryl
    June 3rd, 2011 at 20:30 | #3

    Are you sure we’re not related? My grandmothers would have agreed wholeheartedly. :)

  3. Isobel
    June 3rd, 2011 at 20:32 | #4

    Oh, I DO like your grandmothers. :-)

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