Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YESTERDAY’S MEMORIES and tidbits involved driving south from Paris, dining in Vienne, dancing in Avignon, and recalling an imaginary friendship in Tarascon. Today in Part 2, let’s have a Nice day on the Riviera and continue on to Monaco.

A Nice Place to Visit. Nice is on the French Riviera, about 125 miles east of Marseille. Cook’s notes, “Visitors to Nice have now [in 1923, that is] an opportunity of visiting an Ostrich Farm. It has been started by an Englishman, Mr. Edward Cawston, whose experiments have disproved the theory that ostriches can only thrive in South Africa. At the end of 1905 there were about 150 ostriches on the farm, and their number is constantly increasing. There is also a sale room with a choice of ostrich feathers, boas, and fans. Admission to the farm, 1 fr.” Elsewhere in the handbook, 1 fr. is listed as equal to 9 1/2 d or 40 cents American.

I never visited an ostrich farm, whether in South Africa, on Nice’s Route du Var, or even driving on E. Highway 246 into Solvang, here in Southern California.

This and the following image from Cook’s Traveller’s Handbook Riviera and Pyrenees.

Once with some free time on a press trip, I hand-delivered a missing R&T issue to a subscriber who lived in Nice. He was away on business, but his wife, maybe just a bit bewildered, accepted the magazine, and his warm thank-you letter beat me home to California.

Monaco. The Principality of Monaco is a mere 12.9, 13.2, or 15.8 miles east of Nice, depending upon whether one drives the Basse Corniche, Moyenne Corniche, or Grande Corniche, respectively. No extra points for those who merely helicopter in.

I recommend the Moyenne Corniche. It’s likely the one driven by Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in a Sunbeam Alpine in To Catch a Thief.

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant above Monaco in To Catch a Thief, 1955.

“Monaco,” Cook’s says, “is picturesquely situated on a bold and prominent rock.” The handbook describes the Palace of Monaco, the Cathedral of Monaco, and the Jardin St. Martin, but devotes considerably more ink to the Casino.

“On entering the Casino,” Cook’s describes, “the visitor finds himself in a magnificently-decorated hall, lighted from above, paved with various-coloured marble, and flanked by elegant columns.” And, indeed, it is for visitors only: “(residents are not admitted.)”

I’ve never played roulette, but Cook’s prepares me for it: “The croupier in charge calls out, ‘Faites vos jeux, Messieurs.’ The ball and wheel are set rolling, and in a few seconds hundreds of pounds are won or lost…. The compartments of the wheel into which the ball falls are either red or black, and the numbers run up to 36.”

“Let us suppose” Cook’s says, “No. 15 turns up: All who have placed money upon square 15 received 35 times their stake; all who have placed money on the square marked ‘impair’ [odd] receive their stake back with a like amount added, and those who have staked on the second dozen receive their stake with twice its value added.”

“On the other hand,” Cook’s continues, “all sums placed on any number other than 15 are lost; and also all sums staked on the square marked ‘pair’ [even]. In like manner, all money upon ‘passe’ is lost because the number is below 18, but all money upon ‘manque’ gains. If the number thrown is zero, the table takes the whole of the stake, unless zero has been staked on; the player then gets 36 times his stake. The croupiers first rake in all sums lost, and then proceed to throw upon the squares occupied by winners the sums due to them. Directly the settlement is finished, money showers down upon the tables for the next throw.”

Despite my background in mathematics, I find all this baffling, particularly at the frantic pace at which it evolves.

My Lap of Monaco. But have I told you about the time I drove an electric car around the Monaco circuit just minutes before the 1993 Grand Prix?

Quicker than Senna through the chicane? It is to laugh. Image by Nigel Snowden from R&T, September 1993.

It isn’t easy to work this into conversation. But it can be done. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

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