Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Border Marked by Song

Meet Carlo
Did you know that the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily guarded border in the world?  Instead of a smiling faces, sniffer dogs and polite guards asking to see your passport, you're more likely to be shot at by a soldier, blown up by a landmine, or cut to shreds by miles and miles of coiled razor wire.  I imagine there's no souvenir shop either.

Well, here in the sunny south of France, it's not like that at all, thank goodness!  Thousands of people pass back and forth from France into Monaco everyday, to and fro, tra-la-la, completely unfettered, sometimes with no better reason than to get a better deal on a bag of oranges.

There are no big flashing signs, no guards, no checkpoints, nor any of the obvious things that would tell you that you were crossing from one country to another.  But guess what? Auntie is in the know and she will reveal to you the secrets behind the Monaco-France border.  So grab your camera, strap on your fanny pack and let's go!

Carlo's handwritten sheet music

Here's your first clue:  listen for the music...
Carlo's pretty accordion

The sweet sound of Carlo playing his accordion is the first thing you'll notice when you near the border.  Carlo is a bit of a fixture there these days and this morning he was squeezing out a new song, "Mickey's Warning" that he'd painstakingly copied by hand from a friend's songbook.  Funny that it was in English...

Carlo explained the facts of life for a border musician to Auntie while I tossed centimes into his open accordion case in time to his music.

"The most important thing," Carlo explained, "is to set up my stool and music stand on this side of the street."  As he said this he stopped playing and swept his arm out in front of him and pointed left and right.  "The other side of the street is in Monaco and it's strictement interdite to play music over there and the police would chase me away."

Such a pity!  We could use a little cheery music over here in Monaco.

Over here is Monaco, over there is France
Carlo sets up his one man band on the French side of the little street that divides the Principality of Monaco to the south and Beausoleil in France to the north. Strangely, each side of the street has a different name!  The Monaco side is called Boulevard de France and the French side in Beausoleil is called Boulevard du Général Leclerc.  I imagine it's a bit confusing for tourists and the UPS guy.
The magazine shop on the Monaco side has a much better selection of post cards
Both the French and Monaco sides of the street are dotted with shoe shops, a butcher, magazine shops, and a pharmacy.  Personally, Auntie prefers the magazine shop on the Monaco side because they always have cat scratch lottery tickets and a much better selection of postcards.

Not only does each side of the street have a different name, if you look down at your feet,  you'd notice that the sidewalks are different too.
Smiling faces to walk on in France
The French side is paved with smiling sunny faces and the Monaco side is paved with red brick.  From what Auntie has seen over the years, dogs favour the French side of the street when it comes to leaving poo behind.  Maybe they're inspired by the smiling faces.
Boring but clean red bricks on the Monaco side
The last thing you should know about is the secret smudge.

It's difficult to see because the street is always so full of cars but down the middle of the street is the secret border smudge. This smudge is the definitive dividing line between Monaco and France.  
"Smudge" marks the spot

Well, there you have it.  Now you know all the secret ways to tell if you are in Monaco or France.

Of course if you become lost, you can always call Auntie or listen for Carlo.

Remember to look both ways and bon voyage!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Come on, tell Auntie what's on your mind...