This is the coolest Aquarium/Marine Museum on the planet. I have a ho hum attitude towards Aquariums but when you have the opportunity to see an Aquarium which had Jacques Cousteau as a director for 31 years you have to go see it. Musee Oceanographique had exhibits that stopped me in my tracks and made me stare in awe. Maybe it wasn’t so much the exhibits as it was the fish which are amazingly bright and beautiful. I don’t think I have seen the number of exotic fish in any one place. Beyond the fish the different tanks had reefs, corals and sea creatures that were stunning. They all came in a rainbow of textures. No wonder Jacques Cousteau loved the ocean.
The entire museum is in a big marble building – like every other important building in Europe. This one perches on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. What an incredible home. The Museum was built by Albert I of Monaco. In addition to being King of Monaco, he liked to poke around the ocean and study things. The entire museum, outside the aquariums are cases of his expedition studies and booty. There was so much in the collection that Monaco hired an artist to just make a giant Curio Cabinet – the artist they hired did a stunning job. There was no way to get a picture of the entire wall (there were columns in the way). I could have spent the entire visit just looking at everything they had displayed. This artist needs to be hired by every museum to showcase all their extra stuff that doesn’t really fit in collection.
There is one bone I’d like to pick with the museum curators. That would be their description of the Seahorse. It is a male seahorse that is responsible for keeping the eggs and giving birth to the baby seahorses. In describing the birthing process the museum wrote, “During birth the male is violently agitated by convulsions.” Isn’t that interesting? Really? They had to write that for the one species where the male gives birth. I have never seen it written about a female of any species. They just say “Gestation is 120 days” or “mother goes to a dark corner to give birth.” Childbirth is painful – for females as well. If you are going to write it about one – write it about the other.
The Museum was just a part of the day spent in Monaco – the super small principality which houses some of the richest folks. From what we saw – they drive really nice cars. We took the train and got off a stop early so we could walk along the coast. The Cote D’Azur is aptly named. The blue of the sea is stunning – how the water gets it’s color without the help of a special dye is a mystery.
We watched the changing of the guard. We were a bit late and were nowhere near the front where the crowd was waiting to see the actual shift take place. We were near the back, by the road, where the guard marches right by you and you can get some really great pictures.
Since it is Monaco we had to check out their cathedral where Grace Kelly was married and is now interred. The church itself is not super stunning but the view of the Mediterranean as you step out the front doors is breathtaking.
Monte Carlo was off the list of sites to see. You can pay 10 Euros for the privilege of walking in the place. Only Brenna and I made the cut for actually being able to do so. They frown upon minors so and they have a dress code requiring men to wear coats – that left Brent out. So if we ever find ourselves in Monaco again we have a place to visit that we haven’t seen.