How much did you say it costs?
Having stayed with a countess and visited a baroness in Provence, we became quite intrigued by How the Other Half Lives. The south of France is prime territory for learning more. In the past,the French Riviera was well known as the home of Brigitte Bardot, Picasso, and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. Today, many of the “south of Francers” are American celebrities. Like Sean Connery. Tina Turner. Brangelina. And Bill Gates. I was unable to confirm whose houses were whose behind their impenetrable gates and fences and security cameras. I forgot to buy the celebrity-houses map!
You can view the estates most easily from the water, and there are cruises and maps just for that purpose. Unfortunately the boats weren’t available in our neck of the woods. So our initial forays into research were stymied by mere glimpses of expansive rooftops and swimming pools far below.
My investment, and my gain, were a mere pittance, of course, compared with the big stakes of other James Bond-wannabes. But surely I experienced the same euphoria that others do when they top off their 750 millions with a few hundred thousand more! I was restricted to slot machines in the separate “public” area (note the comparative lack of glitz in the entrance hall in the photo), because you have to dress up in black tie (which I had unfortunately forgotten to pack) and pay a large fee to enter the blackjack or roulette salons, or even to access the “real” slot machines.
Just down the street from the casino, the finest in diamonds and rubies are on display, awaiting the biggest winners--and their heavily adorned trophy wives (or mistresses). Alas, I could only afford a peep into the window.
Aha! A clue to family activities among the wealthiest yacht owners. Even rich children have to take sailing lessons before they get a big boat for their 16th birthday. Their little training dinghies get towed back to the dock to keep the little kiddies safe and sound in a harbor filled with giant mega-cruisers.
At the end of an exhausting day, we conducted one last mini-study: finding out what it's like to drop a wad of cash on one meal. Our parameters were a bit tighter than those of the millionaires: we limited ourselves to one 30-euro bottle of wine instead of several 100-euro bottles of choice vintages followed by champagne with dessert. Nonetheless, I think we got a good sample of what it feels like to be at least rich, if not famous.
Naturally, being our normal thrifty middle-class selves, we didn't waste a single scrap.