Step into a world of high-stakes glamour, with a royal twist. From the Monte Carlo Casino to the Prince’s Palace, see why Monte Carlo is the playground for the rich and famous!
To get here!
The nearest airport is the Nice-Côte-d’Azur International, which is around 14 miles away from the city-centre in neighbouring France. It operates daily flights to most of the worlds largest cities.
There are regular Rapide Cote D’Azur buses connecting Monte Carlo with both the terminals at Nice Cote D’Azur airport, and taxis are always available outside the terminal buildings – although make sure a fee is agreed in advance or the meter is indeed switched on at the start of the journey, as French taxi drivers are notorious for charging tourists whatever they see fit. Heli-Air Monaco also operates helicopter services between Nice and Monte Carlo, although this is very expensive and generally only for the very wealthy.
It’s relatively easy to navigate Monte Carlo and Monaco if you take the time to learn where the various ”short cuts” are. City maps are generally available at most news vendor stands and shops for a small fee.
In the harbour, it is very easy to simply stop and marvel at the many super-yachts and cruise ships which usually adorn the docks in the marina. Sometimes, while having a drink at the shores, it is possible to glimpse one of the rich and famous simply relaxing aboard their own vessel.
The Monte Carlo Harbor, served as a location for the James Bond movie GoldenEye.
Monte Carlo is full of impressive sights of rococo buildings. A fun thing is to take a Bateau Bus (water taxi) or board a yacht cruise. You will also find that there are some beautiful mountains surrounding the place.
For cultured take on shopping in Monte Carlo, try the Condamine Market. The market, which can be found in the Place d’Armes, has been in existence since 1880 and is lively and attractive – many hours can be spent simply wandering around, bargaining for souvenirs from the many tiny shops, boutiques and friendly locals.
If, however, you’re shopping tastes are more modern, just a short walk along the esplanade is the rue Princess Caroline pedestrian mall.
The Fontvieille Shopping Centre is also a more ’normal’ shopping experience with 36 shops selling electronic goods, CDs, furniture, and clothes as well as a Carrefour supermarket. The tourist office also issue a useful free shopping guide to the city.
Monte Carlo is also famous for it’s quite exclusive shopping and is certainly no place for a budget holiday. There are plenty of places to melt the credit card alongside Europe’s high rollers.
The chic clothes shops are in the ’Golden Circle’, framed by Avenue Monte Carlo, Avenue des Beaux-Arts and Allees Lumieres, where Hermes, Christian Dior, Gucci and Prada all have a presence.
The area on and around Place du Casino is home to high-end jewellers such as Bulgari, Cartier and Chopard. You will find, however. that most tourists will simply enjoy wandering the area and window shopping, even if you don’t buy anything. The normal shopping hours are from 9:00 to noon and 3:00 to 7:00 pm.
An absolute ’must-do’ for new or old visitors alike is a walk along the coastal Sa Avenue int-Martin, feauturing some beautiful cliff-side gardens. On this road is the Monaco Cathedral, which was built in the late 19th century, and was where Princess Grace and Prince Ranier married. It is also where Grace and many of the other Grimaldis are buried.
The Palais du Prince (Prince’s Palace) is located in old Monaco-Ville and is also a must see. The changing of the guard takes place daily at 11:55 am, so you might want to time your visit for then. There are guided tours of the palace each day and usually run around the clock. While you are there, be sure to take time to walk over and look at the harbors on either side of the palace – the view is marvelous!
If your wallet permits it, try your luck in the Grand Casino and gamble alongside the world’s richest and often most famous. You’ll need your passport to enter, and the fees for entry range enormously depending on what room you are going to – often from 30€ right up into the hundreds The dress code inside is extremely strict – men are required to wear coats and ties, and casual or ’tennis’ shoes are forbidden.
The gaming rooms themselves are spectacular, with stained glass, paintings, and sculptures everywhere. There are two other more Americanized casinos in Monte Carlo. Neither of these has an admission fee, and the dress code is more casual.
About the Grand Prix!
Another activity you might want to try is a visit to the Grand Prix course – it is often possible to find an exclusive company at the marina-side that will let you take a trip round the famous steep climbs and hairpin corners of the Monaco course in a performance vehicle – often a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, however, this is costly.
How to spend your time!
However, if you tire of the lavish lifestyle and show-off supercars (which won’t happen quickly!) there are plenty of other ways to spend your time in Monte Carlo. The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium on Avenue Saint-Martin is a world-reknowned attraction.
The opera house also known as the “Salle Garnier” was built by the famous architect Charles Garnier. The auditorium of the opera house is decorated in red and gold and has frescoes and sculptures all around the auditorium. Looking up to the ceiling of the auditorium, the visitor will be blown away by the superb paintings.
The opera house is flamboyant but at the same time very beautiful. There have been some of the most superior international performances of ballet, opera and concerts held in the opera house for more than a century.
Dining in Monte Carlo can be a very sobering experience to whomever is paying the bill. The most exclusive and famous restaurants in the city are the ’Louis XV Restaurant’ and the ’Le Grill de L’Hotel de Paris’, both centered around the very exclusive Hotel de Paris.
For those looking for a more relaxed and informal lunch or dinner, there are a huge variety of other restaurants and cafés in the city. There are a few simple cafés along the marina-side, more like beach bars than anything else, that serve simple meal. These can be excellent for simply sitting back during the hot midday with a cold beer or glass of wine.
And don’t forget to check out the world-famous Café de Paris, just outside the Casino. It’s a must visit if you come to Monte Carlo. xoxo