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If you are traveling to the French Riviera, you really should take a day and travel to Monaco. Monaco is a tiny independent city-state (2nd smallest to Vatican City) along the coast of France. It is the land of the rich & famous with upscale stores, casinos and the home of Prince Albert II. If you aren’t a high roller and can’t afford to spend the night in one of the luxurious suites, you can go to Monaco for the day and see everything you need to see.
- The first place you will want to visit is the Prince’s Palace. While the Prince’s Palace is the private residence of the ruling Prince and unavailable to be toured, you can go through the State Apartments between April & October. There you will be able to see rooms in this 13th century palace that are used for formal receptions; including the throne room. You’ll find many frescoes, portraits, tapestries and many family heirlooms. Even if you don’t want to waste time see the interior, it is worth a trip to the Palace itself for the gardens and the beautiful view of the French riviera. There is nothing like it.
- Monaco Harbour. If you love boats, you might want to walk along the Monaco harbour to check out all the beautiful yachts. If you don’t have time to go all way down there, enjoy the view from the Prince’s palace.
- Oceanography Museum. When you are only in Monaco for the day, it is hard to spend a great deal of time in museums. Luckily, this museum is fairly small and easy to navigate. If you are travelling with kids, it is a nice break from site-seeing to be able to have some hands-on time with sealife.
- Saint Nicholas cathedral is the burial place of the Princes of Monaco and houses tombs of past sovereigns Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. While not the most beautiful cathedral, it is worth a visit if you have the time.
- La Gelateria is a great place to grab a treat before you get too far into Monte Carlo. You’ll find a nice selection of flavors of ice cream, sorbet & verrines.
- Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. Once you make your way into Monte Carlo, you can’t help but notice the winding street that runs along the harbor. This is the Circuit de Monaco and it the spot where the Grand Prix takes place. As you walk along the sidewalk, you will notice how narrow and steep the course is. While you may want to walk around a bit to take in the sites, I would recommend you save your legs and grab a bus to the casino.
- Monte Carlo Casino. Not only do you have to pay to play, but you will have to pay to enter. You can get access for about 17 Euros… That is if you have to right shoes. You will not be able to go in if you are wearing sneakers, sandals or flip flops. And if you are travelling with kids, sorry, they can’t come in either.
- Opéra de Monte Carlo. Part of the Monte Carlo Casino, the Opera de Monte-Carlo is definitely something you should make time to see. This beautiful building is a work of art both inside & out. When you only in Monaco for the day, we know you won’t have time to spend seeing a performance, but do take time to walk around and see the views.
- Hôtel de Paris. This opulent hotel is regularly listed on Conde Nast Traveller’s Gold List. It features two 3 star restaurants, a notable bar and a private beach and has been in several films including James Bond’s Never Say Never, Golden Eye and in Iron Man 2. If you aren’t staying there, you can go inside (be dressed appropriately) and grab a drink at The Bar American.
If you are visiting the French Riviera, you really should try to make a trip to Monaco for the day. It is one of the most stunning places in this part of the world and you can easily see why the rich & famous flock there. Just be sure to plan your trip before you arrive so you are able to fit in all the things you want to experience.
Have you been to Monaco? What is your favorite part?