* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Saturday, May 21, 2016

PR Meet-up Monaco

PR Monaco 01Last weekend, my favorite sewing site, Pattern Review, held their annual meet-up weekend, this time in Chicago.  It must be a fabulous opportunity to meet various members who support the site and have a common interest, especially ones who are actively involved and have thus become virtual acquaintances. 

I will probably never get to find out, although I was quite sad last year when they met in Los Angeles, as I would have loved to double the trip and see all my family.

However, I did get to do the next best thing last month and participate in probably the first meet-up in Monaco!  I thought I'd share the experience as well as a little virtual tour of the second smallest country in the world.

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A tiny Principality within Europe
Monaco is a principality of about a 3/4 mile square (2 km square) and is the most densely populated country in the world.  It is totally surrounded by France and the Mediterranean Sea.  Its highest point is just over 500 feet (160 meters), within spitting distance of the Sea, so it's a quite vertical country.

The border is quite jagged and very intermixed with France.  We can pass through it on our way to Italy and never really know when we've entered or when we've left.  It's close enough to us that we usually take our American guests for a little visit.

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Le Rocher de Monaco

There is a rather spectacular view from the second of three main routes through the country, where you can look down on The Rock, the oldest quarter and the area where the palace is. 

It is a real natural fortress, and it's been ruled by the Grimaldi family from Genoa for over 700 years.

This was the home of our own Grace Kelly, whose probable childish fairy tale of marrying a prince and becoming a princess actually did come true!

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Fairmont Hairpin, Monaco Grand Prix
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The race is on around the Casino
One of the most famous and prestigious annual events held in Monaco is the Formula One Grand Prix (which actually starts next week).  It is totally held on the streets of Monaco, has one of the most dangerous routes, and ranks up there with the  American Indianapolis 500 and the French Le Mans.

Disclaimer:  All of the above photos were found on the Internet; most of the following are my own.

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Casino de Monte-Carlo, built in 1858, celebrating a princely marriage

When the current Prince Albert II (who has an absolutely perfect American accent, probably more thanks to his mother than his US university experience) made Charlene Woodstock his princess in 2011, everybody was invited to the street party. So we went, too! 

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Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, built in 1862, next door
The streets of Monte Carlo were all decorated in honor of the royal couple, and the evening finished in a great fireworks display.  I took the opportunity to capture Casino Square by night, as all my tourist photos were by day.

Front and center is the beautiful Casino, with a pretty fountain in front of it, and a gorgeously ritzy hotel on the right.  Not to mention all the posh cars always found parked around both.

Personally, I imagined running into the likes of James Bond the first time I saw the Casino, instead of the totally casually dressed average person streaming in and out.  I do believe there is a strict dress code for the expensive gaming rooms, and it's funny to learn that the Monégasques themselves are not allowed to gamble in Monaco!  However, this particular night, there was nothing but fancy dress on all the dignitaries and possible Heads of State we happened to see invited to the inside parties.

Which brings us to our own gala.

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Representing The Far Pavilions , by M. M. Kaye, 1978

Last year, I became personally acquainted with a fellow contest entrant, Sewcrazee.  She caught my attention in the Book Contest (which I went on to win!) by choosing a book I'd actually heard of, read, and watched the mini-series back in the '80s, while I didn't know many of the books that others were choosing.

PR Monaco 09
Dressing an award winning show horse

I followed her as she went on to win a subsequent contest, sewing for pets, by entering a hoodie for her horse!  (She shows them in her "spare" time.)

That disqualified both of us from entering more contests for four months, so we turned our interests elsewhere.

Then she informed me she was coming to France.  She was stopping in Paris, and my heart sunk, because I knew I couldn't get up there.

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Tiny mannequins in the Paris fabric district
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Poster from 1891
But after having lived there myself for 13 years, I gave her a guided tour long-distance, including the fabric district and its surroundings.

When she discovered that area included the famous Moulin Rouge, she booked a dinner show!

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The first PR Monaco Meet-up
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Two new friends forever!

However, it turned out that her main purpose for coming over was a business trip to Monaco!


So of course we made plans to meet up, despite the busy schedule she had lined up.  We ended up having a fabulous dinner together with our two spouses, who also seemed to enjoy the evening as much as we did.  The evening passed way too quickly!

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Great minds dress alike
Considering that we'd never met in person before and didn't really know each other's wardrobe tastes, it was quite amusing how similarly dressed we were to each other.

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Products from Villa degli Olivi, France
While she carried across the ocean my winning contest award fabric and some gift patterns, she also gave me a signed copy of PR's own book on sewing shortcuts and tips, because that's where we met!  I in turn made up a whole Provençal gift pack of herbs and olive oil from my own property.

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Monégasque dandelions

After a wonderful evening and finding out she was exactly the same in real life as she comes across in cyberspace, with plans to hopefully get together another time despite the vast number of miles between us, we sadly went our separate ways. 

As we returned home, with our backs to the water, she returned to her hotel in time to witness a fabulous fireworks display over the water.  It must have been in her honor, of course!  (But was it as fabulous as the wedding display I managed to capture?)


  1. I loved this post! The pictures are fabulous and I'm so glad you got to meet Ms. Sewcrazee. Loved the horse outfit. You two look fabulous and are obviously having a great time. Good for you!


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