My Memories of Monaco
Monaco, the glamorous little country on the edge of France and the Mediterranean. Full of designer labels, yachts and supercars.
I have been fortunate to have visited Monaco twice. Once as a day trip, and once for 3 days as a stop over on my way to a friend’s wedding in Morocco (my flight changed at Nice so I thought why not!)
The number one rule I try to follow when travelling is to not dress like a tourist. Firstly, because it makes you an easy spot for pickpockets, and secondly, I’m on a holiday not going camping. This is especially true in Europe. You can spot a tourist a mile away simply from the way they are dressed and how they behave.
So, on my first visit I wore my go-to European winter outfit – jeans tucked into knee high leather boots with a mid-height heel, merino wool black jumper, thick cashmere scarf I had picked up in Lisbon and my warm black wool swing coat. No backpack, but a black cross body bag that could fit my water bottle, snacks, sunglasses and much needed travel charger!
Even though it was the middle of winter, and all the tourist attractions were closed, the city didn’t feel dead or deserted. Instead it felt like it was resting. It is a different experience, exploring cities during their quiet seasons.
As much as options are more limited in what touristy activities you can do, there are other opportunities. Things like being able to have personal space when walking down normally packed streets or being able to get a table at restaurants and bars. Or simply being able to take photos without someone walking into the shot. Overall, it is simply much more peaceful (and cheaper!).
There were still incredible cars packed outside the Casino, glamourous women walking effortlessly in stiletto heels across cobble stones and the endless stairs, super yachts moored in the habour and when the clouds cleared, there was the absolutely stunning views across Monaco and its shores.
The second time I went, it was in 2017, and I was on my way to Morocco for my best friend’s wedding. There are no direct flights from Melbourne to Marrakesh, so after looking at my flight itinerary of 28 hours and 4 stops (Melbourne, Dubai, Rome, Nice, Marrakesh) I decided a mini break in Monaco was due on my way to Marrakesh. I did the same on the way back but went to Cannes instead. But that is a story for another blog post!
My budget didn’t stretch to hotels in Monaco itself, but I was able to find a cute Airbnb apartment right on the border of Beausoleil. An easy 10 minute walk down to the Casino, with everything I needed at my doorstep. My landlord was a lovely Russian lady, who left an entire folder full of maps, business cards and handy information for me to read through.
Handy tip for anyone thinking of staying in Monaco or Beausoleil – there are public lifts everywhere. So before you drag your suitcase up flights of outdoor cobblestone stairways trying to find your street (like I did), do the research and find where the lifts are hidden. They are all there, but they look like parts of existing buildings, so I had no idea they were actually public and not for the buildings! Bonus – you’ll look like you totally belong 😀
With three days to ease through the jetlag and enjoy some serenity before the chaos of Morocco, I decided to explore every part of this little country.
Timing was actually really good as well, I was there in April, about a week before the Grand Prix. Tourists were around but not full summer peak, and the spring sunshine was absolutely perfect.
The overpriced coffee and pastries at Café de Paris ended up being my favourite spot for breaks, simply so I could watch all the people while planning my next stop.
Starting from the Plage du Larvotto, to Port de Cap d’Ail I ended up walking all over Monaco. I loved finding the signs with photos of Princess Grace at signature moments of her life which were placed around the city. A poignant reminder that one person can have a profound effect on a place.
My favourite finds had to include:
- the Jardin Japonais de Monaco: a delightful garden that felt like an oasis amongst the concrete towers overlooking it
- The Metropole Shopping Mall: every mall should have crystal chandeliers hanging from the centre
- Café de Paris: for the people watching of course
- Yacht club de Monaco: perfect for checking out the yachts and some of the very creative names
- Condamine Market: I’m always looking for markets and second hand stores
- Musee Oceanographique: an incredible aquarium built right into the cliffs
- Monaco Top Cars Collection: This museum houses the personal collection of Prince Rainier III. You don’t have to be a car fanatic to appreciate the incredible array of classic cars here
- Jardin Exotique de Monaco: a gorgeous garden filled with exotic plants with the best views of Monaco. There is a grotto you can explore as well.
- and of course the ‘Old Town’ Monaco-Ville, where you can watch the changing of the guards and take a guided tour of the public parts of the Royal Palace.
As corny as it was the tourist ‘train’ was a lot of fun and a great cheat way to see the sights and let your feet rest from all the walking!
While I’ve seen everything possible in Monaco, I will definitely go back again, but this time for the Grand Prix. The atmosphere around Monte Carlo was electric just from anticipation of the race that was only a week away, it would be amazing to see it in full swing.
My takeaway on Monaco – You don’t need to be super rich or famous to experience the glamour of Monte Carlo. Just wear something stylish and make like you are on a movie set!