Ah, Monte Carlo. Home of classic cars, casinos, Grand Prix races, superyachts, supermodels and all things extravagant. If you’re looking for some off-the-scale glamour, Monte Carlo is the destination for you.
Hugging the coast of the tiny principality of Monaco, Monte Carlo packs a punch for its size. Yes, it’s a swish playground for the rich and the richer. But it’s also a joy to wander for us mere mortals. No expense has been spared on the many parks, elaborate squares and sweeping avenues.
Check out those beautiful palaces and grand hotels. Clamber the narrow terracotta-hued streets of the old town (Monaco-Ville). Admire wide boulevards of swanky designer shops as the town zigzags its way down down down to the sea. It’s hilly, by the way, so be prepared for a lot of walking. Or jump in one of the free public lifts that zoom you up or down the hillside.
The marina is a joy, packed with yachts the size of houses on a sparkling azure blue ocean. Everywhere you go there’s a view of something amazing. There’s definitely nowhere quite like Monte Carlo.
France is so near you can touch it, so head to the station and jump on the train to Nice – it’s a beautiful 13-minute coast-hugging journey to the jewel of the Cote d’Azure. In fact, lots of this coast is within easy reach, so stay on for Antibes and Cannes. The journey is a stunner and the destinations ain’t half bad either. Go on, put a bit of va va voom in your life.
High in the hills sits lovely Eze. The perfect combination of labyrinthine streets, ramshackle towers and hidden squares, ancient Eze is centred around a ruined 12th century castle. All the cobbled streets and amazing photo opportunities you could wish for, topped off with a lots of history and views all the way down to the coast.
Ciao bella. That’s the joy of Monte Carlo. Not only can you get to France PDQ, the same goes for Italy. So head east to San Remo, the city of flowers, where the bougainvillea cascades down the sides of pink houses. San Remo likes to show off a bit, so there’s plenty of Riviera glamour here too. And not one, but two harbours!
Exploring Monte Carlo…
Live the high life
Get your gladrags on and head to the grand Café de Paris for a cocktail and some people watching on the terrace. Then move it up a notch with a visit to the Casino de Monte Carlo. Room after room bursting with rococo detail, gilt mirrors, chandeliers and utter extravagance. James Bond used to hang here, don’t you know? If you need a break from the casino, head outside for a wander among the lavish fountains and terraces of the Allée-des-Boulingrins gardens. The views over the marina and the Cote d’Azure really are quite spectacular. And best of all, they are free.
Prince’s Palace of Monaco
The royal family of Monaco is almost as glamorous as the place itself. From tragic Princess Grace and Prince Rainier to Princess Stephanie and current head of house, Prince Albert II, the palace remains the official royal residence. The outside may be a little more fortress than palace, but the inside is as flamboyant and grand as you could hope. Get there for 11.55am for the daily changing of the guard. The views from the square in front are, as is obligatory in Monte Carlo, stunning.
The Oceanographic Museum
Envisioned by Prince Albert as a ‘palace of the oceans’, he pretty much hit the brief. A huge ornate building rising vertically out of the rock face, packed to the rafters with everything you ever need to know about the sea. It boasts an epic aquarium complete with shark lagoon pool, 90ft whale skeleton and an enormous basement tank where scientists are creating a coral reef. Oh, and a jellyfish chandelier.
Monte Carlo cuisine
Much like the place itself, it’s a fusion of French and Italian influences with a bit of added oomph. Pick up barbagiuan, a fried dumpling stuffed with Swiss chard and parmesan, at most bakeries. Or try the traditional sweet pastry, the fougasse Monegasque.
The seafood is divine, and local wines, olive oils, fresh produce, breads and pastries reflect the best from the sunshine coasts of both Italy and France.
Monte Carlo restaurants
Where would you like to dine? Sumptuous surroundings? Chic rooftop terrace? Michelin star grandeur? Five star extravaganza? Yes, it’s all here. You won’t be short on choice if you like to wine and dine – Monte Carlo is, after all, all about the finer things in life. But it’s not all high end – there are enough reasonably priced restaurants and wonderful bakeries to keep everyone satisfied.
Monte Carlo is unique and to be experienced at least once. Much like being on a film set (in fact, it often is a film set), the streets are beautiful and pristine, the palms sway and the superyachts bob in the harbour.
The proximity to France and Italy make it a good base for travelling the Cote d’Azure. Or brave those hairpin bends to the mountains for a bit of fresh air and a visit to some historic villages.
Booking your holiday to Monte Carlo with easyJet holidays is the best way to get to this must-see destination hassle-free. Best of all, you can save on your holiday when you book your flight and hotel together with easyJet holidays.