Monaco and Monte Carlo: A Must See European Destination
Monaco is a principality on the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by France on 3 sides, and the Mediterranean on the 4th side. It is the second smallest independent state in the world (After the Vatican) and has the highest wealth of any country in the world. It is also the most densely populated independent country. French is the official language, though Italian and English are widely spoken.
And it is beautiful. When we visited, one of the first things I noticed was how impeccably clean the streets were. As we walked through the old-city I saw street sweepers. They were meticulously cleaning the street. If someone were to drop a bit of trash, it would be swept up within seconds. It was truly a beautifully kept place to visit.
Monaco is very small, and can be divided into four areas:
1. The old City: Monaco-Ville- This is the oldest part of Monaco and has the Cathedral, Palace, and so much more.
2. The Condamine or Port Quarter: The second oldest part of the city, and where you can see the luxurious yachts owned by some of the wealthiest people in the world.
3. Monte-Carlo: This is a very famous part, as it has the Casino, and is featured in many a James Bond film.
4. Fontvieille: It is the youngest part of the principality and was built almost entirely on artificially reclaimed land. It is the home of Monaco’s football club!
Monaco is famous for its wealth, for being where Grace Kelly was married, and for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, among other things.
I highly recommend a visit. It is nestled on the French border, and near the Italian Riviera, making it a lovely drive for a day of site seeing. Because it is really very small, geographically, you can see it in a day, making it a great stop during a cruise.
If you do happen to get there, what should you see? There are many things to see, but this is what I recommend.
This is the medieval village that is full of old homes, shops, eateries, the Prince’s Palace, the Cathedral, and more. It is lovely, and the food is exceptional. It is very European, with cobblestones, and tiny shops, gelato, and all that you would expect from a wealthy, European city. The tender is Euros if you want to eat something awesome.
The Palais Princier is a lovely place to visit. There are guided tours each day, and the changing of the guard daily at 11:55 AM.
The Monaco Cathedral
The Cathedral was built in 1875, it is dedicated to Saint Nicolas, and holds the remains of the former Princes of Monaco and Princess Grace. Because it is so famous for being where Princess Grace Kelly was married, I had expected it to be huge. It is not. It is modest, beautifully appointed, and has a lovely view.
Oceanographic Museum & Aquarium
If you like aquariums this is a must visit. It has a large collection of stuffed and skeletal marine fauna and specimen. It also has an aquarium with 4000 species of fish. It is the place to go to learn about Mediterranean marine ecosystem.
Monaco has many lovely gardens with rare plants from around the world. The garden can be toured, and there is a cave, and lots and lots of stairs. Look at the beautiful plants, sculptures, and fountains. It is a lovely site.
The Grand Casino
The Grand Casino is a well-known feature of Monaco, where many of the world’s richest and most famous gamble. There are fees to enter, even if you are not planning to gamble. And a strict dress code.
One site I will never forget from Monaco is the plants. It is a densely populated city, and so there are tons and tons of apartments. With tiny little balconies. And on every balcony are beautiful plants. Many of which are watered with bottled water (The richest country in the world…remember?). It was not what you normally see in cities that are so populated. So clean, lots of green, and of course, more high end cars then you can imagine!
I hope you have a chance to get there some day! Have you already been? What did you think?