Friday, 26 July 2013

We broke the bank at Monte Carlo

Around afternoon tea time, we entered the casino - THE casino - at Monte Carlo.  We'd expected to pay an entry fee of 10 € each, but no.

We entered a large room dripping with all the beauty, elegance and charm of a bygone century.  Jean thought it looked like a palace.  I gave Jean 100€, and let her loose on the American roulette table.  The difference between American roulette and English roulette is that in the former there is the inclusion of the double zero.  English roulette has the single zero but not the double zero.  French roulette is something much worse - a riot of activity with several croupiers involved, each with a stick for moving chips across the table.  We haven't even tried to understand it.

While Jean took her chances at the table, I repaired to the bar, and bought a beer.  The beer was aptly named 'Monaco'.  I silently toasted Prince Albert Of Monaco, and the continued independence of his principality.  I also toasted Jean's success at the table.  While I sipped on my drink, I gazed in awe at this the most beautiful of all casinos.  We were in the Salle de Europe, or the Europe Room.  It has two large arches, one to enter the room, and the other, at the opposite end, leading into the America Room, where there are slot machines.  The Europe Room is also bounded on all sides by four ceiling arches, creating the inevitable varying ceiling contours.  All over the ceiling is significant gilding, forming various leaves and flowers, curves, flows, and borders for certain designs as well as for the ceiling sculptures.  There are four sculptures, three of them are of naked women, and the other......just to be of a partially naked woman.  Half way down the wall, all around, is a gilded border, 'supported' by 18 columns that hark to an earlier era.  There are eight five-metre high paintings adorning the sides of the room, beneath the gilded border.  One is the 'Harvesting Oranges'.  Another is 'Ascension of the Alps'.  Still another is 'Walk along the seafront'.  All were painted by Pierre Ribera in 1898.  There are also eight brilliant chandeliers, hanging beneath an overarching circular sky light of roughly 12 metres in diameter, with intricate designs within, the burning sun in the centre, its rays extending to all corners of the circle.  The carpet on the floor looks like it could have come from any palace.  

Earlier today, before visiting the casino, I toured the Prince of Monaco's palace.  The casino's Europe Room, which was pretty much the only (of many) room open when we were there, is much more beautiful than any of the rooms in the palace.  Yes, there was a throne room in the palace, but it was just an average throne room.

How did Jean do on the roulette table?  She lost the lot except for one chip.  From there, she made her way back up, and, in the end, we walked out with our original outlay plus another 75 euros.  My silent toast paid off.

There's a lot of money in and around Monaco, which you can see in the cars that frequent the immediate area outside the casino.  We saw Bentleys, Ferraris, Maserattis, a brand new Rolls Royce, and a Porsche that, in Canberra, would have stopped traffic, but here paled into insignificance.

Jean the winner
Le Casino at Monte Carlo
A Ferrari parked outside the casino

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