Monaco may just be a sliver of 2 km², yet it is crammed with millionaires, showy glamour, 300 days of sunshine every year, and a notorious.
It also has awesome architecture, an improbable number of spotlessly-lush parks, and one of the smallest royals-to-commoners ratios in the world. You’d be forgiven for thinking Monaco is something dreamt up as a vehicle for a Grace Kelly.
The best way to see this most elegant strip of the Côte d’Azur is on foot. Its mix of bustling streets, quiet lanes, and floral parks separating its two great landmarks: the Prince’s Palace and the Casino at Monte Carlo are easy to reach. The latter, incidentally, built in a gorgeous rococo style with onion domes and marble columns, was the brainchild of Princess Caroline to attract tourists – citizens are not allowed to enter and gamble there.
The locals seem to spend their time riding around in open-top Bentleys and strolling around casually. It’s not good to work up a sweat in chinos and Ralph Lauren.
This is not a place to be under-dressed unless you want to seriously stand out. Being an extra here means making an extra effort if you want any chance of blending in.
The only concession worth making is shoes; ones that’ll help you get up and downhills. Of which there are a lot.
A leisurely afternoon can take you from the Palace at what is the gateway to the principality to the Casino in Monte Carlo, the ritzier and most famous of its seven districts, just across the spectacular drop to the harbor. And it’s a similarly manageable stroll to get down to those yachts below.
While the place may be ridiculously pompous (its 35,000 population even has a local dialect), it is a safe place to be a tourist.
So, a starting point. It’s a steep slog from the center of town up to the Palace, but you’ve stunning views with every step before you reach the square on which is played another sign of pomp: the midday changing of the guard.
And if you’re one of those that don’t do palaces, take a tip and do this one. You get to see the Throne Room, the Palatine Chapel, and, most importantly, the private apartments; all aided by audio guides in English which help you get a taste of the Grimaldi lifestyle as you soak up the Renaissance architecture of the courtyard.
It’s worth taking a detour along the winding and undulating alleyways that sit behind the main roads of La Condamine if you want a sense of how ordinary Monegasques live. You’ll pass front doors and occasionally reach. But no one will mind you find a shortcut.
Everyone goes to the Café de Paris, which sits bang outside and features a terrace from where you can watch the supercars lining up outside the casino or try to spot someone of note at a nearby table.
Last modified: February 26, 2021