If you're living the dream and have found yourself in the French Riviera, then a trip to Monaco is definitely worth your while! This independent state (the second smallest in the world after the Vatican) boasts incredible views, the world-famous Monte-Carlo casino, a marina packed with super yachts and an array of amazing cafe's and restaurants, so if you can spare a full day there's definitely enough for you to see and do.
Monaco is a country in itself but is bordered by France on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, so it has a very strong French influence. Though it is only 2.05km sq it is home to 35,986 people, making it the most densly popuated country in the world! Monaco is made up of four districts - Monte-Carlo, Monaco-Ville, La Condamine and Fontvieille, and each is best known for something different, so we thought we'd break it down by districts so you know exactly where to go.
Perhaps the most famous of the four districts, Monte-Carlo is the beautiful area that surrounds the Casino. Made up of grand white fountains, lush greenery and exquisite views of the marina, Monte-Carlo is a photographers dream and an heiress' summer vacation. The famous Hôtel de Paris (which you might have seen in James Bonds 'Golden Eye' and 'Never Say Never'), stands proudly next to the casino and is an incredible building in itself that attracts the oogling travellers. The hotel is always surrounded by a parade of Bentley's and Ferrari's, and has been known to host a celeb or two, so keep the camera at the ready. The legendary Monte-Carlo Casino boasts a rich 150 year history, beautiful architecture and a shrine of slot machines and tables so if you like what you're a betting man you will be in heaven. If not, you should definitely still check it out as it's quite a site!
Monaco-Ville is the most historic part of town and is located upon the rock where the Prince Palace stands. The 'old town' is a maze of narrow alleyways from the middle ages which lead to the picturesque Place Saint Nicolas and Placette Bosio, the Chapel of Mercy, Palais de Justice and the Cathedral (a Roman-Byzantine style building built in 1875). The most famous attraction, the Prince's Palace, is home to the Prince of Monaco, and has been renowned as symol of risque decedance and glamour since the 1950's when it was home to Grace Kelly.
La Conamine is the area that surrounds Port Hercule (one of the only deep-water ports in the French Riviera) and is where you will find super yachts the size of small islands! It is a beautiful setting with bright blue water, quaint cafes and restaurants, and views of the towering Monaco hills, and is perfect for strolling through with a gelato in hand. Words really can't describe the types of yachts that you'll find in this port but as an example, Contiki recently spotted the gigantic 'Pegasus V' chilling in the water and after much investigation discovered that this beauty was bought privately for 125 million euro's and is rented out at 650,000 euro's per week. We know?!!!! Get over there, you will be amazed!
The newest of the four districts, Fontvieille is an area that is entirely reclaimed from the sea and today houses high-tech, non polluting companies, amongst other more interesting attractions. Here you can see a 16,000 seat football pitch with an atheletics track, sports hall and Olympic sized swimming pool, a Sculpture Path that showcases monumental works by Arman, Blake, Botero and César, the heart-shaped 'Rose Garden' dedicated to Princess Grace and the Exhibition of HSH The Prince of Monaco’s Vintage Car Collection. This area of Monaco gets the least coverage but trust us, it's worth checking out.
Monaco is 15km East from Nice and is accessible via train or bus (a bargain at only 1 euro per ticket!!) It is a highlight of the French Riviera and is like something off the silver screen so get over there and experience it for yourself!