The Country Grace Kelly Created
On April 19, 1956, Hollywood actress Grace Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. This date was the beginning of the heyday of the principality. After the marriage of Prince Rainier to a Hollywood movie star, the inconspicuous and gradually fading Monaco turned into the center of European social life and one of the most expensive countries in the world.
I was relaxing in Nice in one of the hotels near the Anglais promenade, from where I raided nearby villages, famous for something or someone, or just seemed to me worthy of attention for no apparent reason. So, Cannes was honored with a visit because of the film festival, Grass – as the perfumery capital of the world, Bridget Bardot lives in Saint-Tropez, and Cap-Ferrat – the most beautiful place of Cote d’Ajour, here lived Baroness Rothschild, Churchill, Isadora Duncan and the king Leopold II Belgian.
Monaco owes its popularity exclusively to Grace Kelly. It is thanks to her that Monaco has become a state in which it is fashionable and prestigious to live. Grace was never the Cinderella that the prince condescended to. She was the daughter of a millionaire, the niece of the Pulitzer Prize laureate, the sister of the Olympic champion and the world-famous movie star. Marriage with her was primarily beneficial to Prince Rainier III himself. She brought elegance, fame and Hollywood charm to the provincial Monaco. For those few days that I lived in Nice, I was fed up with not very clean, but paid beaches, crowds on the waterfront, the lack of public toilets and the endless arias of poor singers on Massena Square near the opera house.
Monaco – was my first trip outside of Nice. I bought a one-way train ticket in advance at the earliest time with full determination to see everything you can see in one day in the smallest state in the world. I planned to return by bus – I wanted to visit the place where Grace Kelly died. The road between Nice and Monaco goes over the abyss and there, in the La Turbie region, on one of the sharp turns and the accident occurred in 1982. The train was full – people were going to work, and I had to stand for 25 minutes in the vestibule, pressed against the door of the car by the working people of Cote d`Azur. Basically, they were young girls, many went to the station Eze (Eze), there is a perfume factory “Fragonard”. Monaco Station is located some distance from civilization, slightly above the princely castle – the main local attraction.
The Cathedral in Monaco, Palace Square (Place du Palais) with a number of bronze cannons that appeared here under Louis XIV, was deserted, only the guards, stretched out, stood alone in the guard near the booths. Why crowds of tourists do not run around and around the castle, it turned out very quickly: April is not the best month for tourist attractions: the palace is closed for visitors at this time of year: the prince and his relatives live in it and when the inhabitants of Palais Princier disperse around the islands for the summer rest, then they will open it – it will happen on June 1. I had to forget about the walk around the castle, but I found out that at five to twelve in the Place du Palais there will be a changing of the guard, and I can see the Monaco army in full military uniforms and composition.
It was still far before 12 o’clock, and I decided to go down to the Cathedral, where Princess Grace was buried, and, if possible, listen to the mass during which the organ sounds. It was still quite early, but the cathedral was open, and although there was no mass on this day (held only on Sundays), it was possible to go in, go around the cathedral around the perimeter (otherwise it is impossible – everything is fenced in chains, and a step to the left, a step to the right is punishable excommunication) and look at the tombstones embedded in the marble floor of representatives of 35 generations of the Grimaldi clan, including Princess Grazia Patricia among them. Her plate is different from the rest: it has a vase with white and burgundy flowers and small bouquets in the corners. 52 years ago, in the same cathedral, her wedding with Prince Rainier III took place. The cathedral was built in 1875 on the site of the destroyed temple of the 13th century. During the construction, they used white stone from the quarries of La Turbie, the place where the princess died.
I walked along the narrow streets of Monaco-Ville (it is also called La Rocher – Scala) and admired medieval houses, microscopic shops, cozy little restaurants and elegant old women, decorously sitting with a cup of morning coffee at the round tables of street bistros. At City Hall Square, I went to the post office and bought a postcard with a view of the castle.