Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Walk-By Wreathing in Monaco-Ville

There was a big holiday surprise for Auntie when she opened her front door on Tuesday morning.  

It was not dog poo on the side walk in front of the house.  No, that was Thursday's little surprise - today it was a pretty Christmas wreath hanging from our front door!  

I called Uncle Jim downstairs so he could have a look and together we stood around and scratched our heads wondering who'd put it there.  We found one big clue.  Nestled in amongst the little pine cones, ribbons and nuts was a card with a cheery, "Bone Feste" which is Monegasque for Happy Holidays.  Hmm.. This narrowed down the list of "wreathers" somewhat.

Prime suspects on our mystery wreathers list were Celine, who is always doing nice things for us, and our Monegasque neighbours across the street. But following some intense questioning and verifying their whereabouts on Monday night, a big light bulb went on above Uncle Jim's head.  Or maybe it was some Christmas lights. Uncle Jim remembered reading about the Christmas wreaths in our Neighbourhood Association's newsletter.  Gosh, I really should start reading those! 

As it turns out, the holiday wreath hangers were volunteers from our Neighbourhood Association or l'Association du Quartier le Rocher. Those in the know call it A.Q.L.R. for short. 

You may think that everyone living in Monaco is riding around in a fancy sports car, walking coiffed poodles with their hands and necks laden with expensive baubles, but up here on Le Rocher or "The Rock" as Monaco-Ville is known to the locals, we lead a surprisingly modest lifestyle compared to those in other parts of the Principality.  You may have noticed, dear readers, that Auntie is no glamour-puss so Monaco-Ville suits me just fine!

Everyone on Avenue Emile de Loth got one

Allow me to share a few excepts from our A.Q.L.R. newsletter and you'll see what I mean:

The Archbishop got one
"Xavier & Jacky (from the Post Office) ask that whomever sent a package to Mr. & Mrs Faustini would kindly present themselves at the post office as the sender's name is not specified and the package has been returned as undeliverable."  Dear me!

And a regular feature on page 2... "The chronicles of the 'Quat’ pattes du Rocher,'  or Four Paws on the Rock."  Here is the little dog Jade (photo of little Jade smiling) who says, "I adore my life with the Pestoni family."  Hmm.  This makes Auntie wonder if it was Jade who left the little poo present near her front door on Thursday.

There are also recipes submitted by readers, photos of bags of trash mysteriously abandoned here and there, and scooters breaking the rules by parking where they shouldn't.  Just the very sort of down to earth activities playing out in neighbourhoods all over the world.  But I digress.  Back to our wreaths... 

The next day, Auntie took an early morning walk around the neighbourhood and sure enough, wreaths were hung everywhere.  

According to the newsletter, volunteers created 230 wreaths and they found many of the components in Monaco-Ville. The gardeners who tend the lovely Jardin Saint-Martin gathered the pine cones and the acorns were collected from the main road leading up to the Rock.  After the wreaths were assembled, Father DiLeo blessed them all before they were hung.  Now that's a community effort! 

The volunteers who hung them must have had a tall ladder or a co-operative monkey helping them.  Some were up really high.
No wreath for the Palace
The Palace workroom got one
After roaming around the side streets, curiosity struck and I wondered if they had hung a wreath on the Palace door.  After all, the Prince and Princess live in the neighbourhood too.

Auntie smiled at all the guards and walked confidently up to big front doors of the Palace, camera in hand, looking like a tourist.  I got as close as I could without arousing suspicion and then...  Oh no!  There was no wreath!

Maybe the Prince forgot to pay his annual Community Association dues.


Everyone on rue Basse got one

The Canadian Consulate got one
Even the nuns got one

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