Monaco sits on the glamorous French Riviera and is known for being a small principality headed by the Prince of Monaco. The principality doesn’t even stretch to a square mile (two square kms) but what it may lack in size it certainly makes up for in style. This is one of the most affluent spots in the world.
Lined with blue seas, the warm climate here is the perfect weather for the palm trees that dot the lanes and you will find exotic flowers and lush vegetation galore. One of the best known areas of the principality is The Rock or Le Rocher which is a large rocky bluff which is also the home of the main part of the city called Monaco-Ville. Easily accessible from neighboring Nice in France, this is the place to come for glitz and glamour, and if you fancy trying your luck then you can spend time in the casinos here and cultivate your inner James Bond.
SOME USEFUL INFORMATION
ℹ️ Travel: Flights with British Airways fly into nearby Nice airport in France. From here you can catch a Train to Monaco that lasts roughly 30 minutes, into Monaco-Monte Carlo station. Fares are approximately GB£3.50 (€4.00). Alternatively, by taxi the 14 mile drive will roughly take 30 minutes, dependant on traffic, and cost around GB£60 (€70.00)
ℹ️ Currency: Monaco uses the Euro (€)
Although Monaco is not exactly in the EU (European Union) it does follow EU laws and regulations, that is administered by France.
ℹ️ Credit Cards and Banks: ATMs are common place in almost every shopping street. Every retailer accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
ℹ️ Weather: Monaco has one of the warmest climates in Europe, with 14 hours of sunshine and temperatures over 30°C in the Summer months. In the Winter months temperatures drop to around 15°C on average with cool nights. But December and January see the highest rainfall. If you want to explore, Spring and Autumn are a great time to visit, with plenty of sun and temperatures in the low to mid-20s.
The walk from the station to the main area of Monte Carlo is surprisingly tiring. The station is high up on the cliffs and the descent down through to cave tunnel system down the low levels can take it out of you in the Summer heat. Thankfully there are refreshment stands on the way down.
WHAT CAN MONACO OFFER?
MONTE CARLO CASINO
The Casino de Monte Carlo is one of the most famous casinos in the world. The marble atrium is similarly lavish in style and you will find 28 onyx columns that welcome you to the Gaming Rooms.
Fans of James Bond are certain to enjoy the scenery, as this is said to have been the setting for the James Bond novel Casino Royale. There are different gaming rooms here that are decorated in a variety of themes, but make sure you look up and take in the chandeliers and the stunning artwork as you try your luck.
Located just outside of the city centre is the Jardin Exotique.
This garden sits high on a towering cliff that looks out over the ocean and you will find lush surroundings coupled with stunning vistas. The garden first opened its doors in 1933 and you will find a surprising mix of plants including African and Latin American species that grow here due to the warm weather.
Monaco Cathedral stands out because of the white stones that were used in its construction. The cathedral houses the remains of the former princes of Monaco including Prince Rainier.
The cathedral was built in 1875 although some of the artifacts inside are older such as an altar piece which was painted in 1500. Other items to look out for include a grand organ as well as the main throne which is carved from white marble.
This early 15th century fortress, built on the northeastern tip of Le Rocher “the Rock,” is now used as a brilliant outdoor theatre with a capacity of roughly 350 spectators in tiered seating built in a semi-circle. In this enchanting setting, high quality performances are given during the summer season.
F1 – GRAND PRIX
For Four days in May every year the F1 Grand Prix descends on the streets of Monaco. The Monaco Grand Prix has run since 1929, it is widely considered by most enthusiasts to be one of the most important and prestigious races in the world.
The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. In spite of the relatively low average speeds, it is a dangerous place to race.
QUAI JEAN CHARLES REY OR CONSTANTINE
Quai Jean Charles Rey, or, Constantine bars sit on the water and is located on the other side of Le Rocher (The Rock). It is known for being a scenic place to have a drink and you will find a range of cafes and eateries overlooking the quay here including the likes of a traditional English pub.
If you are looking for a good way to end a busy day in Monaco then this makes a great choice to people watch as the sun goes down.
MONTE CARLO OPERA HOUSE
The Opera de Monte Carlo is located on the iconic Place de Casino which is the most famous spot in all of Monaco. The opera house was built in 1878 and its main performance space is covered in pretty red and gold decorations. You will also find ornate carvings here in the form of frescoes and sculptures and if you like opera, ballet, or musical concerts then don’t miss the chance to catch a show in this opulent setting.
Like everything in Monaco whilst you see cruising around the narrow streets Porsche’s and Maserati’s at the marina you will discover the mega yachts of the rich. Some of these mega yacht’s have doors that open from the hold to release yet another boat within. I am more than certain that mooring these floating hotels run into the thousands!
If you make your way to the Marina you will discover many restaurants, and although they are certainly more expensive than some of the establishments set back in the cobbled streets, they are not outrageously expensive, despite glitzy surroundings.
For such a small Principality it hosts a wide array of cuisine. You have the option of the lavish gastronomic venues but there are restaurants and cafes that serve everything from Italian to Spanish, to French; from ice-creams to pizza, to crepes.
My Trip was only a day from neighbouring Nice in France. I took one of the early morning train services to Monaco and returned on the late service back to Nice. I found plenty to do to fill my day there.
If you are in the neighbouring area then make time to observe the opulence that Monaco offers.