Monaco

In 3 words: Unusual and fun.
Monaco is a day-trip destination, unless you plan to spend a lot of time and money in the Grand Casino.
Distances are walkable, but require a lot of climbing and descending, so you may want to consider public transport to conserve energy when moving between Monaco-Ville and Monte-Carlo.
Worthy attractions: Grand Casino; Palais du Prince [did not tour inside] and the daily changing of the guard; Musée Océanographique; Jardin Exotique.
Left for another visit: Musée des Automates et Poupées d’Autrefois.
Last visit: May 2002.
 

We spent an entire day in Monaco in 2002 and left convinced that we’ll come back again. Since large portion of the tiny country is taken up by modern skyscrapers, and most of the walking requires steep staircase climbs and descends, the attractions play larger role in our enjoyment of this destination than it normally is for day-trip targets.

Monaco-Ville ♥ is a little jumble of narrow streets and the only part of Monaco with architecture dating before late 19th century. The Palais du Prince is not as imposing on the outside as many other rulers’ palaces, and is open to visitors only for a few summer months when the prince is not in town. The daily changing of the guard ceremony ♥ is curious and slightly comical-looking.

Musée Océanographique ♥♥ is associated with Jacques Cousteau and is one of the best marine life museums in the world.

Grand Casino ♥♥ in Monte-Carlo is a prime attraction whether you are a gambler or not. If you want to go inside and try your luck a bit, please remember to have your passport with you (required for entrance), dress up nicely (black-tie or ball gown is obviously not required, but a certain level of decorum is expected), be ready to pay an entrance fee (€10 per person when we were there in 2002), and don’t expect a large variety of low-stakes games. The casino interior, in Belle Epoque style, is worth the entry fee by itself.

The area around the casino is home to some of the most opulent hotels on the Riviera. They look the part, too.

Jardin Exotique ♥♥ sits on the mountain slopes and provides great views of the entire little country in addition to its fantastic collection of different species of cacti and other tropical and subtropical plants. There is also a small museum of anthropology in the gardens and an underground grotto with regular guided tours (only in French in 2002).

Places to Eat

We dined at U Cavagnetu in Monaco-Ville on that trip in May 2002, but no specific records were taken of the experience.


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