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South of France and Monaco GP 2012


My wife is a die-hard F1 fan.

Initially, it was just a moderate interest (like my own) but increasingly, throughout the years, it has grown into a full-fledged passion, one that makes her sit on selected Sundays, laptop in hand, eyes on the TV, sacredly following the incidences of every race in the championship series.

Ayrton Senna, probably the best F1 driver of all times, had a lot to do with it.

Since the level of her interest was just a small fraction of what it is today back in 1996, the last year the Portuguese Grand Prix was held in "Autódromo do Estoril", just a couple of miles from where we live, we had never seen a live race.

So, in 2012, we decided to treat ourselves to a trip to see a live F1 race.

Spain, would be the logical choice but we thought "What the heck...nah...!"
If one has to see just a single GP in one's life time (...and how things are going, I am not sure another one will enter our restricted traveling priority list in the future...) mythical Monaco has to be it (...for the ambiance , I mean, since the actual races in Monaco can be quite uneventful. There are very few spots for successful overtakes).

So, there we went, in the beginning of May, for the double treat of seeing a live GP (for her) and enjoy a compelling photography subject (for me).

Budgetary constraints kicked-in and I simply could not bring myself to actually attend the race while paying for a grandstand ticket, especially since I would certainly regret it, photography-wise, given the fact that I knew I would have to endure 100+ minutes of "same POV, limited FOV variations" compounded by high fences in the camera's way.

Instead, acting on a tip from a previous year attendee in a F1 online forum, we elected to buy just a single ticket for the best grandstands in the circuit (K) for my wife, for the race day, and put the rest of our budget into a couple of tickets for "Les Caravelles" terrace, for the practices.
This way both my wife and me would have the best from the experience, she enjoying F1 from 2 very different perspectives and me enjoying a privileged high view of most of the circuit.
This option of ours meant I got some great photo ops during the practice day. The downside is that most feature "limited action", with just one car in them.

As for the racing day, I thought I could take some odd shots from some "peeping points" along the city but uncle Bernie has things really well controlled with few of those available and, the few that exist, too far away from the action and jam-packed with viewers, literally hanging from every single available spot.

The only place I could get a glimpse at the track was from the balcony of the northern exit of Monaco's railroad station, which faces the Sainte Devote chicane, at the end of the finishing line stretch. I was lucky enough to have caught the final sequence of the Kamui Kobayashi/Romain Grosjean start incident, although in a somewhat location-limited sequence.

So, here are some of my "harvested" photos from the event. I am very happy with them considering the limited access and the fact that this is my very first attempt at a motor sport racing event.

In addition...

We also took the opportunity for an expanded stay to enjoy a bit of Southeast Provence.
Cannes was hosting the film festival, so there's a buried "Easter egg" in the galleries for the ladies... :)

There are shots from Vence, St. Paul de Vence, Antibes, Cannes, St Tropez, among other places.

Out of Nice there's a small, almost model-like railway that runs up through the valleys sculpted by the Var river in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence all the way up to Digne-Les-Bains .
It's called "Les Train des Pignes": http://www.beyond.fr/travel/railpignes.html
There are several ancient and picturesque villages along the line, some with quite a medieval touch to them.

We decided to hop along for a short version of the trip up to Annot and back, with a stopover at Entrevaux, so the gallery also features some interesting images from those places.

I hope you can enjoy these.

(Gallery under construction. More photos to be added)



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