After the races yesterday, Larry and I ran up – okay, we huffed and puffed up – the hill to the “U” grocery store for Coke Zero and snacks.
A little later, we went back up the hill to the shopping center at Le Metropole and then on to stroll the Boulevard des Moulins, to window shop, look at the scenery below. We turned up the Avenue de St. Laurent just before 8 PM and discovered the restaurant, “Le Cave de Max.”
I can’t praise the atmosphere, the food and the service enough. The young man who seated us outside and served us dinner was sweet and helpful, bringing us a little plate of vegetable rolls in a flakey pastry wrap as soon as we were seated at a table for two outside. He read the whole menu in English for us, holding the 5-foot tall black board the whole time. On his recommendation, we bought a bottle of Rose from Provence and had scrambled eggs with black truffles, a la’ Max, for “starters. ” Larry ordered the veal in a red sauce and I asked for the tagliettelle with scallops in a great carbonara sauce. The servings were so generous that I couldn’t finish my pasta, but we did finish up with cafe Americain. In addition to enjoying the great food and the wine suggested by the staff, we entertained ourselves counting the Maserati’s and Ferrari’s among the Renault’s, Mini Coopers and more mundane autos that passed one after another on the street. There were a couple of Bentleys and a Rolls, too.
We went back to the hotel to take a nap, setting our alarm for midnight so that we could visit the second most famous movie star of Monaco: Le Casino.
At least, we tried to nap. The temporary night clubs were rattling the windows again. The noise wasn’t something we could block with ear plugs: it hit our bodies through the walls of the room.
Larry dressed up in a suit and tie and I wore a short black dress – but it didn’t matter what I wore, because it was completely covered by my black raincoat and black and gold scarf that I wore to compensate for the 50 degree weather. We wandered over from the Fairmont just before 1 AM and checked in at the entry-way reception, presenting our ID’s to prove we weren’t natives of Monaco (citizens aren’t allowed to gamble in the casinos!) There was no fee, but we were given printed passes with our names on them.
Inside, the rooms were brightly lit, with ceilings and walls decorated with paintings of beautiful 19th century women and ornate raised, painted frescoes. The first inner room was much quieter than I expected (could have been the hour). People were gathered around the black jack tables (minimum 10Euros to 100Euros) and roulette tables (who knows? I can’t figure out the game, much less the minimum). The next room was where the slot machines were – all very quiet and only “dinging” softly when someone played. Farther on was the bar decorated with gold, beige and turquoise tiles. We didn’t go to the private rooms, where I understand that there’s a charge and higher stakes gambling, but I did put 20 Euros into a slot machine for about 20 minutes of play, cashing out with a 20 cent ticket stamped 1:26 AM – proof of our visit, and that we stayed out after midnight. (After that nap.)
We’re not gamblers, so most of the time we just people-watched. There were few tuxedos and fancy dresses, and Larry notice he was one of the rare men in suit and tie. I saw jeans and tennis shoes, contrary to what I’d been led to believe. We both marveled at the young women who managed to walk in high heels that were taller than their skirts were long. I sympathized with the bored women who lined the couches in the corners of the rooms.
After all the excitement (grin) we were back in the room by 2:30 AM.