Town of Gorbio in France

Short trip to the French Riviera

Monaco was always a place for the rich and beautiful. My imagination was fueled by film scenes from James Bond, the myth of Grace Kelly and the King’s House, as well as Formula One.

On the spot, the picture was quite similar to my idea. We reached the city on a Saturday at noon. Much of the shops had already closed. Expensive cars pushed through the streets towards downtown. Countless yachts anchored in Hercule harbor. The autumn sun attracted residents and visitors to the cafes on the quayside. It was as if we were moving in the backdrop of a film. If other tourists visited the area, they could camouflage themselves well. We, on the other hand, reached the city in a camping bus, in which we lived foralmost two weeks and strolled through the city in outdoor clothing. A break in the picture.

The old town of Monaco-Ville with its small narrow streets and views over the ports of Hercules and Fontivieille is worth seeing. It is situated on a plateau called Rocher. The fortress of the Grimaldis, the Saint Nicholas cathedral, and the Oceanography Museum, once led by the famous marine explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, are located in Monaco-Ville. 
The actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer III, as well as the present royal family Prince Albert II and the sportswoman Charlene Wittstock, once married in Saint Nicholas cathedral.

Foreign World Monaco

We walked in another world. Even the everyday seemed strange. In Starbucks, I met young people who displayed expensive labels. Their names have been Avantgarde, Naomi, Diamond or Chiara. I felt like an exot ith my name. Alina and I talked about our ideas about how we could use the bad weather situation best. We discussed possibilities and created plans. Looking at the faces of the teenagers, I wondered what kind of life they dream off? What plans do they have? How would they use their fully privileged situation (assuming they are from a wealthy home)?

Involuntarily, I have to think of the four men we had seen on the highway. At first I thought they were construction workers, but then it turned out they were on the road from Italy to France. They were dark-skinned and with small luggage on the road. “Refugees?” I asked Alina. We were surprised and worried. The subject of refugee movements in Europe and also Asia has always accompanied me on my travels. And how is the Europe-wide issue of refugees and asylum seekers treated in Monaco? Monaco is not part of the EU and connected through special contracts with it. Few refugees are currently being admitted. Just around the 33 refugees living in 2014 in the small principality with about 40,000 inhabitants (current data are difficult to research). A sad figure, considering the prosperity in this state. But statistics alone do not show the entire picture. It is more complicated than that. I am curious how this topic will be handled within the EU in the future.

Climbing in Gorbio

After our short trip to Monaco, we decided to explore the French rocks of the Cote d’Azur. In Gorbio we found a picturesque, medieval village surrounded by forests, olive groves and rock climbing. The medieval core of the village has been built on a rock and offers wonderful views of the valley and the Mediterranean. The cobblestone alleyways from the 14th to the 16th century are narrow, winding through archways and do not allow any car traffic. A 300-year-old elm, whose trunk now measures a circumference of more than five meters is planted in the center of the village square. Historians say the tree was planted to celebrate the treaty of Utrecht, which initiated the peace process in Europe around 1713. This village is a perfect hide-out to avoid tourists.

Gorbio is located only 100 km from Finale Ligure, and yet the climbing was a challenge of a different kind. The rock was fundamentally different from the one in Italy. It was a mixture of stone quarries with cracks, tufa and drip holes. There was also a wall named Thai wall. Of course, we had a look at the routes here as well. Unfortunately, the weather worsened quickly so I did not have time to climb the route named Pad Thai, a typical Thai noodle dish. Unfortunately we have had only an appetizer from the climbing at the Cote d’Azur. The short excursion has, however, given the opportunity to put this region on our bucket list for future climbing.