Monaco is the second smallest country next to Vatican City and still has monarchy rule and Albert II is the ruling Prince of Monaco. French is the official Language here and now, let’s discover what’s so special about visiting Monaco?
1. The Casino: Made famous by three different James Bond movies, the Monte Carlo casino offers the classiest gambling experience in the world. For 150 years, people have come to admire the high stakes, the architecture and the beautiful people this place attracts. You can be a part of the elite if you want.
2. The Grand Prix: Reputedly one of the toughest courses in the world, this track is also one of the oldest, in operation since 1929. Unforgiving crash barriers and the shortest (only 3.34 km) lap make this one of the most competitive and tense tracks.
3. Shopping: Get this clear on the outset – there is little bargain shopping in Monaco. Practically everything here is exclusive, especially clothes. That’s not to say you’ll have to twiddle your thumbs if your pockets aren’t deep. You could window shop or try the Condamine Market for a delightful selection of souvenirs from boutiques and locals.
4. The Marina: Face it. It’s just cool to be able to do nothing all day but sit and watch the yachts rolling in from the cool and blue Mediterranean waters on a breezy spring day. And if you aren’t a boat person, you can always ogle the people on the beaches.
WEATHER AND BEST TIMES
Monaco is never unpleasant. The winters are mild, the summers are breezy and it’s absolutely spiffy the year around. Temperatures range from 8°C (46°F) at the coldest (January) to 26°C (79°F) at the warmest (July). Rainfall is minimum and is restricted mainly to summer and autumn. The best time to visit would be spring, when the Le Mistral wind clears the skies, leaving behind crisp mornings and breezy days. Visit in the summer if you want to run into the World’s most beautiful, congregate here to soak up the sun and work on the tans.
Monaco doesn’t have its own airport. The nearest one is at Nice, the Cote- d’Azur International in France, about 25 miles away, which is connected to Monte Carlo with by regular buses (Rapide Cote d’Azur). You can also catch helicopters from the airport to Fontvielle, Monaco, a service operated by Heli Air Monaco, an entry that’s supposed to be the best way to enter after coming in by yatch.
You can also get in by train from Nice, Cannes, Menton and Ventimiglia. If you haven’t already bought your tickets, carry Euro coins. The automated ticket dispenses or train ticket machines only accept computer chip cards and are slow.
If coming in by car, there are various highways from France and Italy. The A8 comes from Italy in the east and runs to Nice and Marseilles in the west. Most drives afford spectacular views of the coast. Taxis between Nice and Monaco are very reasonable.
The grandest way to come into Monaco is by boat, whether a private yatch or a luxury cruise ship. Port Hercules and Port of Fontvieille are both more than well equipped to handle high water traffic.
Seriously, put on a pair of comfortable footwear, and walk. The country is small enough to cover in a single hike, end to end. Practically every destination is easily accessible to a pedestrian. The only reason you could possibly want to hire transport is if you’re disabled, or in a hurry, or if someplace is too high to hike up to.
The Compagnie des Autobus Monaco serves about 143 stops over five routes, and comprehensively covers Monaco. Tickets can be purchased on the bus, or at stalls all over Monaco and cost about EUR 2. A EUR 5 ticket will buy you an all day access pass. If you want to move quickly from place to place, rent a motor scooter, or a bicycle. Forget taxis and private cars unless you’re in a real hurry. And don’t bother trying to hail taxis on the streets, as they won’t stop.
Like Macau, Monaco is not budget friendly. The cheapest accommodation option is to bunk at a town or village just outside Monaco borders, preferably with easy access to Monaco. Nice and Ventimiglia are both good options, offering rates about a third of what you might find in Monaco. A two-star in Nice will charge about EUR 20 compared to EUR 60 in Monaco.
Within Monaco, mid range hotels such as the Cosmopolite or the Ambassador offer good value for money (for business travellers) and will cost you from EUR75 – EUR 250
Upscale hotels such as the Hermitage and the Hotel de Paris start from about EUR 300 and then climb steeply.
EAT AND DRINK
Monaco and culinary excellence go together. For those watching their wallets, there are plenty of simple café’s along the marina that supply decent fast food all day long. Make sure to check out the Café De Paris, the prices of which are nearly painful but with food that will make you cry because it’s so good. Visit Baccarat for fine Italian, Fuji and some delicate Japanese. If you’re truly ready to lighten your purses though, you might want to visit Louis XV or the Le Grill de L’Hotel de Paris, both of which offer innumerable wines, all to die for.
Monaco never runs out of the out-of-the-world variety of spectacular. The following events draw some massive crowds and you’d be well advised to check each out at least once.