Monaco twice in one week? I guess it’s no big deal if you live or work there… But for some of us – if you don’t own a Bentley or a very big boat – you might just do the bus tour, marvel at the immaculately dressed police agents or spend a large amount of time getting your head around how small and compact the principality really is (there are vineyards bigger than this).

This time though, there is a regatta to be organised this weekend… even while the exhibits for the Monaco Yacht Show are still being dismantled and the superyachts are playing Tetris in the tiny harbour. Doesn’t stop the locals swimming in the famous pool – must be heated…

Monaco Yacht Club

The Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series Melges 20 Series is being hosted at the Monaco Yacht Club – that iconic building next to Quai Hirondelle in Port Hercule, at the exit of the similarly famous tunnel where the only overtaking opportunity during a Grand Prix could possibly be pulled off.

Early start

So an early start for me heading north to the shores of the Lac de St. Croix in the shadow of the Gorge du Verdon where the boat is kept. We attach the trailer, fiddle with some electrics, have a quick cup of very welcome coffee and head towards the Cote d’Azur. I let the Defender 90 easily pull the boat trailer through the many curves until we reach the highway. Straight roads? Only in your dreams around here…

The Land Rover easily copes with the weight of the boat. It never fails to surprise me how much more sprightly it feels compared to a 110. I guess 500kg does make a difference. It is delightfully spartan and simple in the true spirit of a Defender, we have no central locking, heated seats nor radio and manual windows! The seats are comfortable enough though. And along with a tractable engine and some gentle gear changes, we make good progress. I just wish the engine had some more soul or a better soundtrack…

Monaco’s streets

Monaco can be tricky by car. Take a wrong turn and you could be looping around fifteen blocks before you get back to where you need to be. So, of course, we end up on the wrong side of the port. ”You need to deliver the boat to the MYC. It’s right over there…”, he says, pointing across the bay. Yeah, easy for you to say – wish we had a rowing boat…

But joking aside – we grace the marble-covered quay in front of the yacht club and unhitch the precious load. It is shuffled amongst the other twenty-four contenders and Franck has a chat with the guy co-ordinating things. As I look toward the skyline I think it is a great background overlooking the ‘Ville’ (nice hills), and I recognise a yacht moored up in the bay from the Voiles de St Tropez last weekend...

Best part of the Cote d’Azur

A leisurely cruise back along the coastline brings us to Nice for a pizza to stem the hunger (Nice used to be Italian, so they know about these things). It is well worth the drive, passing through Cap d’Ail, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and the really pretty bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer – complete with cruise ship – before heading along the Promenade des Anglais. The best of Cote d’Azur? Arguably…

So, yeah, as I mentioned to Franck on the way home, Monaco is always worth a quick visit. It’s not for everyone, but I can understand why you would want to live here (besides the obvious). Big boats, great coastline, and damn, that sun feels good…