We all know that the sun comes out as the Tennis starts, and this week was no different. Swarms of sports fans from across Europe, but, seemingly, mainly Italy, dress up in tennis supporter clothes and traipse eastward to the Monte-Carlo Country Club, spilling off the pavements as they traipse.
On Wednesday there were so many of them milling about outside the Tourism Office that I was unable to make it onto the number 5 bus, even though I was in touching distance, almost missing an important haircut appointment at Monte-Carlo Bay.
The number 5 buses are specially designed to have a great deal of room for wheel wells and luggage racks but very few seats, and there’s no door at the rear. Going uphill, the 5 serves CHPG and as almost all the seats face backwards anyone who was not ill when they started out is quite sick and unsteady on their feet on arrival.
I mention this because I have the impression that very few readers make use of the bus service, which in theory could be a very good way of getting about, were it not for all the cars and SUVs blocking the streets, so this may be new information for many.
I went back to standing in front of the Tourism Office. There used to be a bench here but it was taken away because it encouraged people to sit down, which is unacceptable, apparently, in the same way that free buses encouraged people to “take advantage.”
As I stood waiting for a 6 which has more doors, and seats, I noticed how almost all the private cars and SUVs had only one person, the driver. It goes without saying that this phenomenon adds immensely to Monaco’s congestion problems which are now so bad that the Principality’s much-vaunted longevity tables are threatened by lung disease and heart attacks.
Why, oh why, do very wealthy people have to take their vehicles just 300 metres when they could so easily walk?
I am lost for any understanding. Perhaps readers can write in and tell me. It would make a change from complaining about imagined racial slurs and chauvinism.
In the meantime I popped into the Casino, where it’s all gone seriously downhill since James Bond days. There is virtually no dress code, although I did see one chap in shorts stopped from entering.
The only people dressed up are the croupiers. The Casino tourists were all dressed in casual clothes and it was difficult to tell the girls from the boys, a far cry from the golden days of the 50s when no-one dared ask the origin of cash over 10,000 euros and elegance was part of the game.
Alas, we live in democratic times. Air travel is affordable and workers have time off enough to visit foreign parts.
Monte-Carlo has joined Buckingham Palace and Disneyland as must-see venues and the Principality has become a victim of its own success.
When I came out in the early hours it was raining and the tourists had been washed away by a steady downpour. For a moment, it could have been 1953.
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