Transcript for Episode 460: Grand Prix de Monaco Trip Report

Categories: Active Vacations in France, Provence

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 460, quatre cent soixante.

[00:00:22] Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent, and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France. Everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy, and news related to travel to France.

[00:00:35] Today, I bring you a trip report with Jessica Kosmack about the Grand…

Today on the podcast

[00:00:35] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Jessica Kosmack about the Grand Prix experience. That’s the Grand Prix de Monaco, of course. So, vroom, vroom, we’ll talk about a world famous car race this week again.

[00:00:49] About 200,000 people attend the race every year. It’s very popular. Jessica was on episodes 219 and 220.

[00:00:55] No, Jessica was on episodes 220, uh, Jessica was on episode 210, uh, why is this so hard to say? Jessica was on episode 219 and 220 of the podcast, a few years back, to share photography tips and she’s back to explain this whole Grand Prix de Monaco.

A short history of the Grand Prix the Monaco

[00:01:07] Annie Sargent: To give you just a bit of background on the Grand Prix, let’s go back to the early 20th century, and cars were all the rage.

[00:01:15] Everyone’s was excited, Everyone was excited about them, and naturally, people wanted to race. That’s where the idea of the Grand Prix comes into play. The word “Grand Prix” literally means “Grand Prize” in French, and it was the prize for winning these races. The first ever Grand Prix The first ever Grand Prix took place in France in 1906.

[00:01:35] It was a massive event with cars racing from Le Mans to La Ferté Bernard to Saint Calais and back to Le Mans. It was a long thing at the time. It was a grueling race, but it set the stage for what was to come.

[00:01:49] As the years went by, the Grand Prix evolved. The races became more structured with specific rules and regulations.

[00:01:57] The cars got faster, a lot faster, the tracks got more sophisticated. By the end of the middle of the 20th century, Formula 1 was established as the premier class of single-seater racing, and the F1 World Championship became in began in 1950. One of the most iconic races, the Monaco Grand Prix, started in 1929.

[00:02:24] Racing through the streets of Monaco, it’s like the jewel in the crown of the F1 calendar. Tight corners, glitzy surroundings, and a harbour full of yachts, it’s as glamorous as racing gets.

[00:02:38] The Grand Prix has seen its share of triumphs, tragedies, yes, many tragedies, innovations, and controversies.

[00:02:45] Today, the Grand Prix is a global phenomenon, with races from Australia to Abu Dhabi. It’s not just about speed, it’s about strategy, teamwork, and pushing the limits of what’s possible on four wheels.

[00:02:59] From its humble beginnings in France to the global spectacle it is today, it has been quite the ride for the Grand Prix, and I think electric cars are only going to make it better. But that’s just me, I’m definitely in the electric car camp.

Thank you, donors

[00:03:15] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service, my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app, or you can take a day trip with me around the Southwest of France in my very own electric car, at a perfectly. at a perfectly reasonable speed, just in case you were wondering.

[00:03:36] You can browse all of that on my boutique

[00:03:44] Paul sent me this note this week:

[00:03:46] “Dear Annie, we are. We are in our last couple of days in Paris and just wanted to say how much we enjoyed and loved your VoiceMap tours.

[00:03:54] We did all of them, purchased through the app, and they made our stay so much more enjoyable. Loved all the historic info and your great sense of humor. We have already recommended them strongly to other friends.

[00:04:07] Many thanks from a very long time Join Us in France podcast listener.

[00:04:12] Warm regards, Paul.

[00:04:13] Thank you so much, Paul. I really appreciate that. And yes, uh, I think VoiceMap is a great way to experience a city and I’ll talk more about that uh, in a moment.

The magazine part of the podcast

[00:04:24] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview today, I’ll keep it short because you might hear that my voice is different today. Well, my husband and I went to Geneva for his birthday.

[00:04:35] We didn’t wear masks and I caught COVID. I tested positive today on a home test and I went to do a PCR test at a lab nearby. They’ll confirm tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I have because I couldn’t smell the coffee or much of anything else this morning. So, uh, So I have aches all over, headaches. headaches.

[00:04:54] Uh, I’m not prone to headaches, thankfully, but it’s just aches everywhere.

[00:04:58] And that’s despite taking acetaminophen as recommended, I’m not sure it works that well but… um, Oh well, it was bound to happen sooner or later and I have four doses of vaccine in me so it’s probably going to be… Okay, it shall pass.

[00:05:13] I’ll see if my doctor wants to prescribe Paxlovid tomorrow when I see her. But, I will update you on what’s happening in Paris, But I will uh, talk about uh, my experience in Geneva, uh, a very cool city, after the interview.

Annie and Jessica

[00:05:33] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Jessica Kosmack and welcome back to Join us in France!

[00:05:37] Jessica Kosmack: Bonjour Annie. Thank you for having me back.

[00:05:39] Annie Sargent: Wonderful to have you back. You, You went to the Monaco Grand Prix. That is so exciting. I’ve never been, I want to hear all about this.

[00:05:48] Jessica Kosmack: Yes, we did. It was a big bucket list trip. It was my husband’s 50th birthday this year. And he’s a lifelong F1 racing fan. And so we thought, why not start with the biggest and glitziest and most glamorous race? Um, So we, uh, yeah, we, We booked our tickets almost a year in advance as soon as they went on sale.

[00:06:10] And uh, also booked our accommodation almost at the same time. We just didn’t know how crazy things would be and we were right to do all of those things because it, it was pretty crazy.

[00:06:20] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it attracts a lot of people, doesn’t it? Had you, Had you been to Monaco before?

[00:06:25] Jessica Kosmack: I had been to Monaco back when I was a backpacking student in 1999 and had no money. I mean, I still sort of felt like we had no money this time too, but it was…

[00:06:38] Annie Sargent: Well, compared to a lot of people there, it’s hard to feel like you have money. Okay? Yes, Yes.

[00:06:45] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah. So it was my second time in Monaco, but I have to say, it was really neat seeing it both ti both times in that, the first time I was there, it was late September, there was, you know, the city was open to just walk around. This time, This time, everything was you know, set up for a race weekend. So there was a lot cordoned off, but I didn’t feel like we were missing anything because I’d seen it the other way before.

[00:07:10] So,

Tickets for the F1 Circuit

[00:07:10] Annie Sargent: So, so this is probably a stupid question, but you have to buy tickets to this, right? This is not like the Tour de France where you can just show up on the side and watch it.

[00:07:18] Jessica Kosmack: So it’s, You definitely have to buy tickets. What I will say is that for a race like Monaco, and there’s other city races that are part of the F1 Circuit, city races in particular, you know, my experience in Monaco, there were definitely a lot of people there who I don’t think had tickets, and they were just there to soak up the atmosphere of Monaco that weekend.

[00:07:38] And You can definitely feel the vibe. You can hear the cars, Monaco’s not that big. Yeah. Yeah. So you can hear the cars, but you cannot really see them. They do a pretty amazing job of blocking every possible view. They want to charge for every view. What I will say is on the sort of practice days, so uh, on Thursday and Friday, you could go up to the old part of Monaco around the, the princess palace there, and there’s sort of a, you know, um, a lookout over the port and you can see the track from way up there. And that was not blocked off. So you could see that. But we did go up on race day to see if we could watch some of the stuff. No. That became a ticketed area on race day.

[00:08:25] Annie Sargent: Oh wow. Wow. So when you get your ticket, it tells you, go to this address or something. Go to door number, or something?

[00:08:33] Jessica Kosmack: So we, So when you order your tickets, you pick where you want to sit, so there’s grandstands and they give you, the, the F1 website is great. It tells you exactly what your view is going to be. It tells you a description of the race course in that particular spot. So it can really help you decide where you want to sit.

[00:08:52] We decided for this race because Monaco is of course the most expensive ticket on the the racetrack schedule. So we decided that we would buy tickets for qualifying. So that is on the Saturday. And Monaco, if you don’t know F1, Monaco is kind of what many people think is kind of a boring race because it’s such a tight track, the cars are really big. And so there’s not a lot of changes in the order of the race that happen on race day, but a lot happens in, in qualifying. So we decided to buy qualifying day tickets, which also had the advantage of being quite a bit less money. But we decided to splurge on sort of the most iconic seats.

[00:09:42] So we sat in the grandstands that faced the casino and the hotel de Paris and the Mediterranean and the yachts going by in the background. So it was a beautiful spot to watch. And so our ticket gave us access to that zone area only. If you had tickets for maybe down by the, by the harbor or um, just in one of the other sections, you’re, you could not get in unless you had the right ticket.

[00:10:11] Annie Sargent: Hmm. Oh, that’s very good to know. Excellent.

Arriving at the race track

[00:10:13] Annie Sargent: Okay, so, so now you, you have your ticket. How long do you spend there? When you arrive, there’s probably security, I’m sure.

[00:10:20] Jessica Kosmack: There’s, uh, Actually, there’s not security to get into Monaco. There’s security to get into your zoned area. Some of the other areas, like there’s a, a really fun fan zone where a lot of the drivers will come and do interviews throughout the weekend, and we went there a few times and every time they, they’re checking your bags, but no long lineups for that and no long lineups really to get into the ticketed zone.

[00:10:42] So that was good. Um, So I’ll step back. We decided to stay in Nice because I didn’t even consider staying in Monaco. Uh, It just seemed,

[00:10:51] Annie Sargent: The dollar signs were too many.

Book your stay well in advance

[00:10:54] Jessica Kosmack: Yes. Yeah. Um, And even when we went, so we stayed in an Airbnb in Nice and when we booked that, I think we booked maybe 9-10 months in advance. Even then, you know how when you’re booking on Airbnb it says, you know, 30% of properties are booked for this time, or something like this. Like ours, even almost you know, a year out said that there were very few properties remaining. So a lot of people are already booking well in advance for that weekend. But we found a great place and I can talk more about that, the, you know, our, our apartment later. But it was good to have a place that was maybe not as consumed by the Monaco race weekend to come back to.

[00:11:36] It was fun to go walk around Nice, and so that was great. So we stayed in Nice, um, our our host gave us the rundown of which train stations to access that would get us into Monaco. So the first morning, we went in on Friday morning just to walk around.

The train from Nice to Monaco

[00:11:53] Jessica Kosmack: We wanted to see what, what it was like, and we went to the train station.

[00:11:57] So there’s Nice. Nice-Ville? Yeah, the main train station. We went to the one just after. So one stop closer to Monaco.

[00:12:05] Annie Sargent: I can’t remember what it’s called, but there’s only two of them, I think.

[00:12:07] Jessica Kosmack: There’s only two. Um, No, I think there’s one more by the airport, closer to the airport.

[00:12:11] Annie Sargent: Oh, now they have a tram station.

[00:12:14] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah. Um, So anyway, we went to that one, one stop closer to Monaco. We went around 10 in the morning and every train that was coming in was already packed, like people pressed to the window on the inside. The platform was very busy. And the conductors though, were really great and they, you know, a train would come in and they would start telling people, oh, there’s, there’s space here up at the front, or there’s space at the back.

[00:12:41] And so we managed to get on the second train, and then every day after that we figured we’re just going to go to the main train station and get on because we’ll have a better shot of getting on the train from the beginning. And that worked out just fine.

[00:12:55] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s how it works. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:12:57] Jessica Kosmack: So on that first day, we went in around 10 in the morning and we stayed until five in the afternoon.

[00:13:04] We just were having the best time and we kind of just committed our whole weekend. That was the first part of our trip to immersing ourselves in the race and not trying to do too much else.

[00:13:15] So yeah, it was just, hearing the loud cars, I didn’t even think I was going to be this into it, but I loved hearing the cars.

[00:13:24] I loved seeing everyone walking around in all of their different team paraphernalia.

[00:13:29] I liked the ahead.

[00:13:29] Annie Sargent: Did your husband have a, like a team he was rooting for?

[00:13:33] Jessica Kosmack: He’s had a a, team. He, He’s always rooted for McLaren, so we spent a long time walking around the different, you know, merchandise booths that are set up. They’re kind of just set up on streets in Monaco, which is really cool. So you feel like, what I was going to say is, a city race is really cool that way because when you’re not watching the race, you’re just in the city that you’re in.

[00:13:56] And so you get to enjoy the restaurants and the, you know, just take away sandwiches the same way you would if you were just there on a non-race weekend. So yeah, it was really, it was much more exciting to just feel like you were a part of something than I thought it would be. Even though we couldn’t get to, you know, we couldn’t get down to the port.

[00:14:17] We couldn’t get down and see the big yachts. Um, But we could see them up in the old Monaco-Ville part of town.

[00:14:24] Annie Sargent: Yes, so so for that whole weekend, everything is blocked off, like you just go to where you got your tickets for, and that’s it.

[00:14:32] Jessica Kosmack: You can walk around the city, but you can’t get anywhere near the track um, and, and expect to see something.

[00:14:36] You can actually be right beside the track and hear it, but there’s a big barrier wall uh, block blocking your view. And so just be prepared for that, it’s people were trying, I have a really funny picture of a, a woman holding her husband up on a very precarious railing and because he was trying to see above the barrier.

[00:14:57] People would try, but really it, you just can’t. You can’t. Um, And so if you just embrace that and enjoy the other stuff that there is to see, um, and a lot of the restaurants had TVs out so you could be sitting.

[00:15:12] Hearing the, the real life sound of the cars and they have the footage on TV.


[00:15:17] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah, it was really fun.

[00:15:19] It was really fun.

Other things to do in Monaco

[00:15:20] Annie Sargent: Excellent. So do, can you still go into the cathedral and the palace and things like that? Can you do other things?

[00:15:28] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah, it all seemed to be open. It all seemed to be open. We couldn’t figure out how to get into the casino just because I’m sure there was some weird circuitous route to get there, and And, it’s not the normal way you would get in. Um, But I do know, we met a guy on the train one morning and he had, he said he’d been at the casino the night before.

[00:15:46] So, um, I do know everything else seemed to be open. There was definitely tourists there, just looking at the other stuff, um, going up to the palace and uh, all of the, the churches were open and people were just also just going about their…

[00:15:59] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Just enjoying the, their day in Monaco. Yeah.

The prices

[00:16:02] Annie Sargent: So did you find, well, I was going to ask you if the prices for restaurants and things were inflated, but you would have no way to know that because you weren’t there…

[00:16:11] Jessica Kosmack: It was hard to tell. We didn’t really eat a restaurant meal while we were there. We kind of just did the, the snacking or cafe or takeaway sandwich route. Um, It was probably inflated, but not horribly. It didn’t seem horribly out of line.

[00:16:29] Annie Sargent: Did you have a hard time finding places to buy food?

[00:16:33] Jessica Kosmack: No, not too.

[00:16:33] No, No, no big lines. And even, you know, this, the classic, you know, going to the grocery store option exists in Monaco.

[00:16:41] So we did that. And, um, The, The good thing with the race was they let you bring in food and drinks. So we actually went to the grocery store and stocked up on water, and you just couldn’t bring in glass bottles or alcohols. So if you brought, you know, um, bottled juice or pop or water and snacks, that was all allowed. So that was great.

[00:17:04] Annie Sargent: Did they even sell food at… once you entered the area?

[00:17:08] Jessica Kosmack: They did. um, There was a little, uh, you know, food and beverage spot where, so you didn’t leave your zoned area. I think there, that’s where the prices were high.

[00:17:19] Um, Yeah. Um, And I think most people were using that if they wanted a beer or something like that, because that was the only place you could have a drink and still be part of the race.

[00:17:29] Annie Sargent: Right, because they would sell you one in a plastic cup.

[00:17:32] Yeah. Exactly.

[00:17:33] Or a paper cup or whatever it is.

[00:17:35] yeah,

[00:17:35] yeah.

Drive to Survive on Netflix

[00:17:35] Annie Sargent: So are you normally a Formula 1 fan, or…

[00:17:39] Jessica Kosmack: So I, like I said, my husband’s a huge fan. It’s always on in our house every weekend that there’s a race, and I kind of just, I. I don’t know, didn’t really pay attention for many, many, many years. But then I decided before this trip, I’m going to enjoy it a lot more if I know what’s going on. So I binged all five seasons of Drive to Survive on Netflix, which I highly recommend watching.

[00:18:03] It’s very, very good.

[00:18:04] and

[00:18:04] Annie Sargent: They do a good job with those shows, don’t they?

[00:18:07] Jessica Kosmack: I heard you talking about the Tour de France version of on Netflix, it’s the same thing.

[00:18:11] Annie Sargent: Exactly. It is similar.

[00:18:13] Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

[00:18:13] It’s, It’s exciting the way they cut up the story and the, you know, they slice in the, the people and the, oh, it’s, it’s great.

[00:18:19] Jessica Kosmack: it’s it. So that really helped get my interest going and then as soon as we were in Monaco and I heard those cars, that did it for me. So now I’m obsessed. I’m converted Annie. I’m a full F1 fan now. Yeah.

[00:18:32] Annie Sargent: Next time you go, you’ll have full regalia.

[00:18:36] Jessica Kosmack: Oh, full. Oh, I already got some. I bought some. Yeah. Yep. I bought some. That was inflated pricing, the merchandise.

[00:18:44] Annie Sargent: Well.

[00:18:45] Jessica Kosmack: When in Rome, you just do it.

[00:18:46] Annie Sargent: So you, did you have tickets for one event or more than one event?

[00:18:50] Jessica Kosmack: So you buy ticket, so you can spend as much money as you want. I’m sure you know, like you could buy the full weekend package. Um, That was completely out of our range.

[00:19:02] I mean, you can have tickets, you can have track,

[00:19:05] Annie Sargent: Are you talking a 1000, 10,000? What?

[00:19:08] Jessica Kosmack: So we saw for the full weekend, like track paddock access and everything, $14,000 per person.

[00:19:16] Annie Sargent: Okay. That’s, yeah.

[00:19:18] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah. So our tickets, and I don’t mind sharing, our tickets for one day for the qualifying were $600 Canadian uh, each. So for the race day, they were more than double that. So, But that doesn’t just get you the one event. So you actually, and I didn’t realize this when we bought the tickets, you get a whole day’s worth of events.

[00:19:37] So they have Formula 1 is the big, you know, the, the tier one, but then there’s Formula 2 and Formula 3 races, practices, qualifying. Uh, We saw a Formula 1 qualifying session that day. We saw a Formula 2 and 3 um, qualifying or races, I don’t remember. We saw, there’s Porsche races, so you know, completely different vehicles.

[00:20:01] Yeah, just Porsches. So we saw, I think we saw one tour of that. So there’s stuff happening from about 11 in the morning until the qualifying is over around 5. There’s stuff happening almost like every hour.

[00:20:13] So that was awesome.

[00:20:15] Yeah, yeah. So you get, you, You feel like your expensive ticket is, it’s covering a whole day. So that was, it was worth it.

No Uber into Monaco

[00:20:22] Annie Sargent: It’s important to mention for people who don’t know that, you cannot take an Uber into Monaco. So the train is, you know, just plan on taking the train. I don’t know what parking was like that uh, weekend, but it probably was no bueno. It’s no bueno most of the time. So I would not venture uh, to drive myself in there for especially that weekend.

[00:20:44] Jessica Kosmack: The, The roads were clogged the whole time when we were there. I can’t imagine driving, just, I think so many routes are closed off, so it becomes just really impossible to get around.

[00:20:56] Annie Sargent: There’s not that many roads that lead to Monaco really. I mean, you know, you can come from Italy, you can come from La Turbie, which is Èze La Turbie and then from the the coast. That’s it. Like I think there’s three ways in there and that’s it. So, yeah.

[00:21:12] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah, so, So we took the train in, I will say what I did not, I didn’t even know to think about it, but I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to get out of Monaco every day.

[00:21:24] So everyone comes in sort of, you know, over a several hour period in the morning, but then everyone leaves at the same time.

[00:21:31] Annie Sargent: Yeah, when it’s done, they want to go back. Yeah.

[00:21:33] Jessica Kosmack: Friday night was fine because there was no big events, but Saturday and Sunday we weren’t even watching the race in Monaco. We were in Cap D’Ail next door. But both of those days it took us over two hours to get back to Nice. And we ended up taking that.

[00:21:48] Annie Sargent: more than one train.

[00:21:48] Jessica Kosmack: The train lines were so long Annie, I have no idea where the ends were.

[00:21:52] And so we, after seeing the lines, we decided to just take the bus, because we’d heard that the bus, even though it’s longer, is like longer if everything’s running on time. Uh, It’s actually a beautiful option and it goes right along the coast the whole way, and it takes maybe an hour instead of 25, 30 minutes.

[00:22:14] And even though we still had to wait for that, we got on a bus both evenings eventually, and got a seat and it’s air conditioned

[00:22:22] Annie Sargent: So it was more comfortable than being packed in a train.

[00:22:25] Jessica Kosmack: And I just don’t know how long we would’ve waited. The lines were seriously unbelievable. And so, um, on the, the race day, we actually took the bus back into Monaco, so that we would be assured a seat to continue back, so we looped all the way back in and came around. The driver so confused by what we were doing,

[00:22:46] Annie Sargent: Did he Did he make you pay for two tickets?

[00:22:48] Jessica Kosmack: He did. And I didn’t know that, but it was still cheap. It was still, yeah, he was, he kind of, he didn’t yell at us, but he said, why are you doing this? And I said, have you seen the traffic and the lines? And anyway…


[00:23:01] It was fine because it, we had a seat the whole time and it was, we were tired at the end of that day.

[00:23:06] Annie Sargent: Of course, of course. And when in Monaco, even if you can’t walk around all over the place, it’s very hilly. You know, there’s stairs everywhere, yeah. it’s a bit of a walk to get anywhere in Monaco.

[00:23:17] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah. It was a, those were big walking days, those, that whole weekend.

[00:23:23] Annie Sargent: So last question about the race. Did McLaren do well? I, I have no idea.

Renault Alpine, Esteban Ocon

[00:23:29] Jessica Kosmack: They did not. But my team is Alpine. They’re the French team.

[00:23:35] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Renault Alpine. Yes.

[00:23:37] Jessica Kosmack: And they, their driver, Esteban Ocon, he came in third and he, that was his, that was his best finish this whole season. So I like to think I was his good, good luck charm.

Electric car races

[00:23:47] Annie Sargent: Exactly. You know, one of these days they’re going to do electric car races uh, on those tracks, and that’s where I might be convinced to go take a look. Because I like, eng car engines eh, but the, the word kind of the sound of an electric car, electric motor, I love that.

[00:24:08] Jessica Kosmack: Well these cars are hybrid, so they’re a lot, I’m told, a lot quieter than what they were, you know, 30 years ago. And the F1 cars are significantly quieter than even the F2 and F3 cars, which don’t use the full hybrid engine. So the hybrid engine is, it’s already, I mean, it’s already quieter. It’s not quiet, but it’s quieter.

[00:24:30] We didn’t need earplugs in the stands. I’ll say that.

[00:24:33] Annie Sargent: Oh, okay. That’s good.

[00:24:35] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah.

[00:24:35] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I mean, electric cars would just bomb it out of there so fast. Uh, uh, Acceleration on a basic electric car is better than in a gas car, so I assume that’d be a little bombs. I don’t know. I’m,

[00:24:49] Jessica Kosmack: I, don’t know. It’d be really interesting, it’s evolving all the time, the industry. I know they’re, they are interested in being, they talk a lot about net zero, so their, their carbon footprint is something that is on their mind, even, even though it’s not, it doesn’t come across as a very environmentally friendly sport, but they’re doing what they can.

[00:25:07] Annie Sargent: In France you have to, you really have to. Uh, Earlier today I was listening to an interview with the people who run the caravan at the Tour de France.

[00:25:14] Jessica Kosmack: Mm-hmm.

[00:25:14] Annie Sargent: And the guy repeatedly said, it’s not the caravan that has what, a thousand cars or something, that is the problem. It’s all the people coming to the Tour de France.

[00:25:26] I’m like, dude, like, yeah, just admit it. Okay? It’s

[00:25:30] like, it’s fine. Like we’ve been doing this forever. It’ll be fine. We, Eventually it’ll change, but for now, that’s where we are. So there you go.

Airbnb in Nice

[00:25:37] Annie Sargent: Okay. Tell me about your Airbnb in Nice and the things you did around this, this uh, weekend.

[00:25:43] Jessica Kosmack: Sure. So our Airbnb was in the port area, which I had been to Nice maybe 20 years ago. I feel like I only really visited the old, you know, the old part of Nice with the winding streets and um, maybe went to the port briefly, but we stayed right there. And I have to say, it was such a great location. It’s quieter than the old city.

[00:26:09] Annie Sargent: It’s on the other side of the The Rock.

[00:26:12] Jessica Kosmack: It’s on the other side, but it’s, you know, within 10 minutes you can be in the old city.

[00:26:17] Um, For connections to the tram and the bus, it was both dropped or picked up right in the heart of the port. So that was, and it was a three minute walk from our apartment. So that was perfect. And we took the tram from the airport because we’d flown from Paris down to Nice. And we took the tram from the airport and it dropped us right there.

[00:26:37] So that was good because we had our suitcases and stuff. Um, Our host was just incredible. He was so communicative beforehand. Sent us stuff about the local area, restaurants, um, asked what we were doing. Knew kind of right away, actually asked when we booked. He said, just by chance, are you coming for the race?

[00:26:59] Because he looked at the dates of our booking.

Cap D’Ail

[00:27:02] Jessica Kosmack: And so he actually helped us find and book a beautiful beach lunch in Cap D’Ail on the race day. So we watched the race from a restaurant that, that he called ahead, asked if they were going to have a TV set up, made our reservation for us. He was just lovely.

[00:27:21] Annie Sargent: And Cap D’Ail is a lovely place.

[00:27:23] Jessica Kosmack: So pretty, yeah.

[00:27:25] We actually said if we went to the race again, we would consider staying there because we walked from Monaco to Cap D’Ail and it took 20 minutes. And so you could, if you stayed there and it felt, you know, it’s right next to Monaco, but it felt like this beautiful little sleepy Mediterranean town. It was lovely.

[00:27:42] Um, So our host was just great because he, he did all this extra stuff for us.

[00:27:47] Annie Sargent: So I know that from La Turbie and Monaco, there is a road and it’s not that far, but there are no sidewalks. Are there sidewalks between uh, Cab D’Ail and Monaco?

[00:27:59] Jessica Kosmack: No, we kind of walked, I don’t know, we were down really close to the water, um, and kind of just walking in behind, um, you know, beach apartments and stuff like that. It wasn’t busy there. We weren’t on a busy road. Yeah. Yeah. It was great.

[00:28:16] We just Google Mapped it I think, and that’s the route it told us to go and it it, worked out great.

[00:28:21] Annie Sargent: It worked. That’s excellent. Very good.

[00:28:23] Jessica Kosmack: So yeah, our apartment was little, but it was just the two of us. It had a, It had a uh, Murphy bed, so a pull down Murphy bed, uh, but a little balcony and a full kitchen, lovely bathroom. And it was, it, it was perfect. I mean, we were zonked by the end of every day. Um, But we did make a point, we’d come back from Monaco and then we’d you know, go up for dinner.

[00:28:43]So we’d go, you know,

Colline du Chateau Nice

[00:28:43] Jessica Kosmack: We went into old Nice. We, We did on our first, on our first day before, on the Thursday before we even went to Monaco, we did the full sort of Nice boardwalk. We went up the colline du chateau, which I don’t think I’ve ever done that. That was so pretty up there. Um, So our apartment was right on the other side, like on one side of the colline.

[00:29:01] So we walked all the way up and then down the other side and then did the whole boardwalk and then into old Nice. We were so tired that day, but…

[00:29:10] Annie Sargent: That is a long walk.

[00:29:11] Jessica Kosmack: It’s a long walk. Um,

[00:29:12] Annie Sargent: So I know there is an, uh, an elevator on the Nice side to avoid the steps up to the colline, but I don’t know if there is one on the uh, port side.

[00:29:24] Jessica Kosmack: I did not see one, but there may have been one. We didn’t even look, we didn’t even look. Yeah. We were just, we were literally at the base of the long sort of climb to get up, so we decided to just go for it.

[00:29:36] Um, But yeah, we had a, we just, again, we had no specific things we wanted to see in Nice, other than I wanted to go back to the boardwalk because I hadn’t been there in over 20 years and see if all the blue chairs are still there.

[00:29:48] And yes, of course they are.


[00:29:49] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:29:50] Jessica Kosmack: Had some great gelato and, um, yeah, a couple of good meals in Nice. And, just The weather was lovely. It was such a nice time to travel. We, We were there the end of May, beginning of June.

[00:30:01] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:30:01] yeah.

[00:30:01] Perhaps some people don’t know when the Grand Prix is, but that’s what it is. Yeah.

[00:30:04] Jessica Kosmack: Yes. So we were in Nice and Monaco the end of May, and it was perfect because it was not super busy.

[00:30:12] It was you know, busy but not super, I can imagine how much busier it would be. The weather was perfect, cooled down at night, but it was still in the you know, low mid twenties during the day. I would highly recommend that time to visit France just because it’s slightly off season. But you benefit from summer weather still.

[00:30:30] Annie Sargent: That’s true. That’s true.

Restaurants in Nice

[00:30:32] Annie Sargent: So your your, uh, Airbnb person sent you some to some restaurants. Do, Do you have a, Do you have one that you can recommend that uh, other people should check out?

[00:30:39] Jessica Kosmack: One of the ones, so he had this great, you know, printed book uh, with recommendations that was in the Airbnb. A lot of them do that. And, um, I hadn’t looked at it, but we’d found this restaurant on our own, and then I went back and looked in the book and sure enough he’d recommended it as well. Uh, Just a little pizza place.

[00:30:55] Um, Sort of on the, the far side of the port, it definitely was not, you wouldn’t stumble across it as a just tourist because you probably wouldn’t go over to that spot. And everyone there was definitely a local and… yeah, it was, it was great that it was just good wood-fired pizza. It was called Made in Sud.

[00:31:14] So a bit of franglais title. But uh, yeah, it was great.

[00:31:18] We were there, we kind of of just had a very lingering dinner there, which I love. Yeah,

[00:31:22] Annie Sargent: So, you know, you know it’s a French place when they use English wrong. So if you have apostrophes in the wrong place.

[00:31:32] Jessica Kosmack: Yes.

[00:31:32] Annie Sargent: Or, Or you know, just something completely… than it’s French people. They just want to be fancy, but they…

[00:31:38] Jessica Kosmack: Made in Sud makes no sense. But

[00:31:40] Annie Sargent: yeah,

[00:31:40] yeah, Yeah.

[00:31:40] They just don’t know. So it’s okay.

[00:31:42] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah, but it was really good. And when I told our host David that we’d gone there, he said, oh, you found the best pizza place in all of Nice, so.

[00:31:51] Annie Sargent: Perhaps it is. Yeah. And that area, I don’t remember the name of that church, but by the port, there is a church. I don’t know if you had a chance to go into it.

[00:31:59] Jessica Kosmack: We didn’t, no.

[00:32:01] Annie Sargent: I’m pretty sure it’s in that church that I saw a piece of Joan of Arc uh, being burned alive. So it, so it’s, She’s not on a horse. She’s not carrying the flag.

[00:32:12] She’s surrounded by wood and about to be burned.

[00:32:17] Jessica Kosmack: Wow.

[00:32:18] Annie Sargent: That is not the normal representation of Joan of Arc.

[00:32:21] Jessica Kosmack: No.

[00:32:22] Annie Sargent: So it’s interesting to see just for that. The rest of the church, I don’t remember anything else. I was like, what? What did they do here?

[00:32:32] Jessica Kosmack: Um, I really liked the port area. It just felt almost like there’s two cities, you know, it, it, it, um, and sometimes ports have sleazy reputations. This one didn’t feel like that at all. And honestly, looking at the boats and the harbor,

[00:32:45] Those are not sleazy people down there. That’s, Those are some nice boats.

What surprised her this time in France?

[00:32:49] Annie Sargent: Alright, so te tell me about the things that you learned about, so, because you’ve been to France many times, what did you learn about France this time that uh, surprised you, perhaps or you weren’t expecting?

[00:33:00] Jessica Kosmack: I mean, I think the race surprised me. I, I knew Mark, my husband, would have a great time. I knew I would too. I love France. I love being in France every time we’re there, no matter the reason. But I didn’t think I would be so into the race and so excited. And also, even though I joked about feeling poor in Monaco, it’s not like the people walking around were, you know, just dropping money on the ground.

[00:33:24] Like, everyone there just looked like a race fan and that was cool. And, um, We didn’t even see, I’m sure we didn’t see the super wealthy people because they were all sequestered away in their fancy hotel rooms or yachts. So I felt like It just felt like you were among people who all shared a common interest, which was really, it’s a, that’s a fun feeling no matter what you’re doing.

[00:33:42] And yeah, I just thought it lives up to its iconic status. It,

[00:33:47] It really lived up to it to me.

[00:33:49] Annie Sargent: It’s a fact that when you go to Monaco, you will not see it is, excuse me. it is the residence of many of the richest people, people in the world, because they get a tax break, a big tax break. You do not become a Monégasques uh, by chance. Most of them are not born there. They just, they somehow make nice with the Prince and there, there’s the passport. It’s amazing.

[00:34:12] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah.

[00:34:12] Annie Sargent: Uh, And these are people who don’t hang out with normal humans. So, you know, they go from helicopter to the yacht to, you know, they just don’t, you don’t see them, don’t worry. You know, you, you’re not going to rub shoulder with them. And they might go to the Grand Prix, but they probably have uh, a space that’s just for them and the, and the Prince and people like that.

[00:34:34] So they stay between themselves. You can’t

[00:34:35] Jessica Kosmack: I think a lot of people probably rent out their places for the race. Um, I have to say, we, I had a lovely encounter with a man up in the old Monaco-Ville and he was Monégasques and he’s been there a long time. I was, He seemed oblivious the race was even happening, but he was just having a pizza at this little kind of nothing cafe.

[00:34:57] And he struck up a conversation with us. His French was kind of broken French because he mostly spoke Italian. My French was, you know, what it was, which is pretty good. He actually complimented me many times on how my, how good my French was. Um, But we had such a nice conversation with him and, but he was the only Monégasque I think we encountered the whole time.

[00:35:18] Um, Yeah. I will say the only other thing we, I didn’t learn but was reminded of is that your, your advice of always just saying Bonjour when you start up a conversation or go into a store or a cafe, continues to be the best advice because it works every time.

[00:35:34] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and and it’s, it’s just, to me it sounds obvious. Of course you say Bonjour, like, why wouldn’t you?

[00:35:39] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah.

[00:35:40] Annie Sargent: But it’s true that in America you don’t, you just don’t. Like you. You can just say, Hey, or not even that.

[00:35:45] Jessica Kosmack: You just walk in, yeah. I’ve started, I’ve started to try and make a point of bringing that practice now that I’m back home, just at least saying hello when I walk into a store. Because it’s, it’s just nice. It also feels less awkward for me, you know? I’ve acknowledged that I’m here.

[00:36:03] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yes. That’s a, That’s a great thing.

[00:36:05] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah.

[00:36:05] Annie Sargent: Alright, well, did I miss anything? Did we talk about all of the things that you enjoyed?

[00:36:11] Jessica Kosmack: I think so.

[00:36:12] Annie Sargent: Yeah, we talked about transport, transportation, we talked about your favorite foods. We talked about your Airbnb. Um, Um, There’s a Super U in Monaco. Who knew?

[00:36:21] Jessica Kosmack: I know. And now I have my fancy, uh, reusable shopping bag from that store that says Super U Monte Carlo, so there you go.

[00:36:30] Annie Sargent: Nice. Nice.

[00:36:31] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah, Yeah.

[00:36:32] Annie Sargent: That’s fantastic. So you have a link to the, to the restaurant you liked. Uh, Cap D’Ail.

[00:36:38] I think we got everything. Are you,

Dou you plan to go to other Grand Prix races?

[00:36:40] Annie Sargent: So do you think you’ll go back or are you going to go to other Grand Prix races?

[00:36:44] Jessica Kosmack: Definitely want to go to other Grand Prix races. And, and Mark and I both said, oh, this is a, you know, once in a lifetime trip. And then as soon as we were back we said, Hmm, I don’t know about once in a lifetime, maybe we’ll have to go again. But I feel like we learned a lot of things that we would do slightly differently to yeah, enjoy it a little, enjoy it a little, a little better next time.

[00:37:04] Annie Sargent: So I’m, I’m so clueless. Where’s the, Where are the other Grand Prix?

[00:37:07] Jessica Kosmack: They’re all over the world, so even though we have one very close by, here in Montreal. That would be the obvious choice, but that of course is not of interest to me. I’d rather go far away. Um, There are three in the US now. There’s a new one in Vegas this fall. Um, But there’s ones in Singapore, Australia, uh, all over Europe.

[00:37:27] So there’s um, Italy, uh, Austria, yeah, all over.

[00:37:31] I think there’s 23. 23 in the year.

[00:37:34] Annie Sargent: So 23 of them, okay. My godson is totally nuts about races and things like that. He does, uh, years ago he had a Twingo, so the little Renault car, you know, that was all decked out for racing. It was the racing Twingo. And, but I mean, he babied that thing every weekend. He and his father would just work on that car to get it ready for the race and I don’t know, whatever happened to that Twingo.

[00:38:01] Um, But it’s a whole culture. I mean, it’s a real culture. People get into this and love it, and it’s just as a, as real as, I don’t know, uh, opera people. Or,

[00:38:12] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah.

[00:38:12] I think

[00:38:12] what appeals, What appeals to me is the opportunity to travel and see races in places that I haven’t gone to. So, I definitely, we will be, I don’t know, figuring out what our next race is. And we always joke that now that we’ve gone to the most expensive, hardest race to go to, everything else seems like cheap.

[00:38:31] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It’s only 500, it’s fine.

[00:38:35] Jessica Kosmack: Yeah. No problem.

[00:38:37] Annie Sargent: All right. Well, thank you so much, Jessica. It’s been a delight to talk to you again, and you’re the first to ever talk about the Grand Prix, so this is excellent. Merci Beaucoup.

[00:38:49] Jessica Kosmack: Merci Annie. Thank you.


Patreon rewards

[00:38:59] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my Patrons for giving back and supporting the show. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing so. You can see them at Thank you all for supporting the show. Some of you have been doing it for many years. You are wonderful.

New patrons

[00:39:16] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons: Amanda Rose, Alexis Butler, Dawn Gensler, Emily G. Adams.

[00:39:25] And for those of you joining now, take a look at the collections tab in Patreon. take a look at the collections tab in Patreon, it will make it easier for you to find previous Patreon rewards categorized by theme. So it’s going to be cooking, history, it’s going to be videos, things like that.

[00:39:42] To join this wonderful community of Francophiles go to and to support Elyse go to

Monthly zoom meetings

[00:40:01] Annie Sargent: This week I had my four Zoom meetings with patrons. I do this once a month. We have a meeting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night in France time. And then one on Sunday morning for folks who are in the Pacific.

[00:40:14] This is, you know, it’s about me interacting with patrons directly, but it’s also about fans of the show to talk to one another and learn from one another. I hope to see you at one of the Zoom meetings soon, and everyone who supports the show at a 5 level, uh, $5 per month level gets an invite, so it’s a pretty cheap ticket, really.

[00:40:36] The theme this month was active, The theme this month was active vacations in France. We talked about ways to organize walking, biking trips and active vacations in France in general.

[00:40:45] Next month, the theme is going to be Favorite French Food. I’ll talk about why I picked the recipes in my cookbook Join Us at the Table and you can see. and you can tell me what your favorite French foods are. We’ll discuss, and perhaps talk about Thanksgiving coming up, some of the French things you can include into your own Thanksgiving table. We’ll probably exchange recipes as well, I would bet. That will be October 20th, 21st, and 22nd of 2023.

Celebrating Birthday in Geneva

[00:41:14] Annie Sargent: So, let’s talk about Geneva.

[00:41:17] It was my husband’s birthday, and he wanted to go to CERN. And neither of us had spent anytime in Geneva, and there are direct flights from Toulouse to Geneva on EasyJet. So it’s handy dandy for a long weekend. I should add that if you’re not starting from Paris, the train makes a little sense for most of us.

[00:41:38] Paris to Toulouse, uh, Paris to Geneva is 3 hours and 40 minutes, average, and there are 13 trains per day. But Toulouse to Geneva is anywhere between 7 and 9 hours by train. So, it’s not practical for a weekend. Driving would be about that much time as well, so we had to fly. We booked an Ibis near the train station in Geneva.

[00:42:01] The hotel was fine, it was a small room. The bed was not a brick, which is good. And it was clean, but there were hookers outside the door uh, on a few occasions. That made me laugh. Uh, I really, I mean, hookers have never done anything to me. Uh, You know, it’s train stations, you know, uh, it’s par for the course. Around train station there’s going to be hookers. I’m more scared of drug dealers, and I know where there are hookers, there might be drug dealers, but I didn’t see any.

[00:42:29] Why would we ever stay in that sort of place? Well, I didn’t know about the hookers until I saw them. And Geneva is really expensive. I mean, a small meal and a drink, like, you know, a small sandwich and a drink in Geneva is 20 Francs, 20 Francs is 22 Euros, probably about $20 more or less. For sit down meal and no wine, it’ll be 40 Francs per person and the wine is ridiculously expensive. I saw a bottle of rosé, this is the same bottle I buy at Lidl in France for 3.50 and they were selling it for 16.70. Who are we kidding? I mean, come on. So Geneva is expensive. Bring all your cash and then some. But it’s a lovely city.

[00:43:17] It’s really clean, even around the hookers.

Transportation in Geneva

[00:43:19] Annie Sargent: Great transportation system and it’s free. If you ask your hotel to give you a pass for the length of your stay, so I called the hotel before we got there and asked for so I called the hotel before we got there and I said, Hey, I’d like the free uh, transportation pass, and they did whatever they have to do. Um, They sent in a request to the Geneva Tourism and then Geneva Tourism sent us a transport card for those three days, totally free. But you have to know about it and you have to ask for it. They have all sorts of trams and buses in Geneva. It’s really easy to get around if you, and if you don’t have to pay for it, it’s fantastic.

[00:43:54] If you’re not a tourist, it’s Geneva prices, however, so, but we were just tourists. We walked around on, uh, We walked around on our own in the city, uh, some. It was nice, but, you know, you see stuff, you take pictures, whatever, you know, uh, it, it was fine. Um,

An important tip about visiting CERN

[00:44:06] Annie Sargent: We knew we wanted to visit CERN and here I have to give you this tip, go early.

[00:44:12] They only take 24 visitors per hour at CERN and they make you stand in line to wait for your tickets. So if you show up and there are 60 people ahead of you, which is easy, you know, it’s a famous place, you’ll wait in line for three hours just to get your tickets. And you’ll need to stand the whole time.

[00:44:32] You’ll need to stand there. You have to stay there in line the whole time. We got there around 10 AM and we stood in line for two hours. It was worth it. We loved our guided tour but it would have been smarter to get there earlier. Lots of people give up on the guided tour because they don’t want to stand there for so long.

[00:44:49] You cannot reserve in advance, and they don’t explain how this works, so I’m going to tell you. Uh, you know, When you’re there, you see the line moving, at last, and you think, Oh, finally! Great! But as soon as they handed out 24 tickets, the line stops, and will not start moving again for a whole hour. It’s not a great visitor experience, but it’s free, you know. So, my husband and I took turns standing, there are some sofas around at least, you know. Um, Once the tour started, our tour guide was wonderful, she was a young researcher from South Africa, who was clearly enthralled with the mission of CERN, a very smart person, and she helped us understand some things that we didn’t know about before.

[00:45:31] And it’s not every day a young black lady tells you about physics, right? It was wonderful. We loved it. I also loved sitting in the Ball, called Universe of Particles. It’s very soothing and dreamy. At any rate, I loved CERN, but I strongly recommend that you get there between 8am and 9am to save you standing in line forever.

Guided tour of Geneva

[00:45:53] Annie Sargent: After CERN, we decided to look for a VoiceMap tour of Geneva. And I’m so glad we did. A gentleman called Ariel Pierre Haemmerle, I think, Haemmerle, I’m not sure how he says it. He has three tours of Geneva, and they’re all so good. I did, I walked two of them, my husband walked a third while I was, uh, while I went to Annecy.

[00:46:11] But they are all fantastic. I really enjoyed the Geneva Left Bank tour, um, but really, they’re all equally good. It turns out Geneva is the same as Paris. You can bumble around based on what you’ve read online, you know, Oh, yes, I know I need to go to the Marais. Whoa, great. I’ll go to the Marais. But you’ll miss all the best bits unless someone takes you there, and tells you about them, takes you to the exact spot, and that’s what VoiceMap does.

[00:46:38] And I had an epiphany about restaurant reviews. I really think the reason why some restaurants get so many great reviews is that they are good at asking for reviews, and not much else. I reserved two restaurants based on reviews, and the rest of the time we just went with our noses and eyes.

[00:46:56] And you know what? Our noses and eyes are better than the reviews because many restaurants get you a little tipsy. Of course, you’re going to order some wine, right? And you’re a little tipsy at the end. And then they bring you a QR code that you can flash with your phone. So you leave a review right there and then before you even leave the table.

[00:47:15] So pay attention to local foods, local prices, and trust yourself because those reviews really don’t mean that much.

[00:47:23] Many thanks to Ellen Konnert and Janice Davis for sending in a generous one time donation by using the green button on any page on Join Us in France that says, tip your guide.

[00:47:36] Ellen wrote: “Join Us in France is my favorite podcast. Every Sunday, I curl up in bed and luxuriate while listening to an episode. Your podcast is so illuminating about the wonders, the culture, the history and the uniqueness of all things French, you do an incredible job and I’m thrilled to be able to support the podcast. Thank you.”

[00:47:55] Thank you, Ellen and Janice.

[00:47:57] Uh, um, So this is going to be a nice image in my head. I’m going to picture Ellen uh, in, in, in bed uh, listening to the podcast. That’s fantastic.

Itinerary Service offeref by Annie

[00:48:05] Annie Sargent: You can take advantage of my expertise as your Personal Itinerary Consultant. I offer two levels of service.

[00:48:13] The Bonjour service, where we talk for an hour, you ask me all your questions, I give you some suggestions and you’re ready to make your decisions about whatever you were struggling with.

[00:48:22] You can also go with a VIP service where we also talk for about an hour, but then I send you a detailed document that outlines everything we discussed as well as a summary of the best advice shared on the podcast.

[00:48:35] To get started, purchase the service at and you’ll get emails guiding you through the process. It’s pretty simple.

Paris VoiceMap tours

[00:48:44] Annie Sargent: What about my VoiceMap tours? Well, you can access my tours directly from the VoiceMap app, uh, if you’re in a hurry, but if you purchase the tour codes from you’ll receive a special listener discount.

[00:48:58] But it’s not immediate, and I do sleep, so give me a few hours before you panic that you didn’t get your codes.

[00:49:06] You have, this is very important, you have to download those tours while you’re at home on Wi Fi. Because sometimes when you’re roaming, it doesn’t work as well. We experienced that in Geneva. So, download at home. Don’t do what I did. Don’t make up your mind at the last minute. My thanks to podcast editors Anne and Cristian Cotovan who produced the transcripts.

[00:49:29] Please take a look at the website. It’s chock full of very good information. And lots of people ask me, they email me and they ask me things that we’ve talked about on the podcast many times. And I get enough emails that I can’t really answer all of them. I mean, I try to, but I can’t. So search the website, you’ll find all sorts of great stuff.

Next week on the podcast

[00:49:48] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode with Elyse about the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, in Paris. Bookworms will love this episode. Thank you for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir.


[00:50:05] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.


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Categories: Active Vacations in France, Provence