When you think of Monaco you think of lots of wealth, big cars, huge yachts and expensive stores. And although that’s there, for sure, I don’t know if I would describe it as really chic. But maybe that’s also because I don’t have the money that most owners of those expensive cars have, I just come there as a simple tourist.
Still, this is definitely a destination you should have seen once in your lifetime. If only to observe all the decadence and expensive things with your own eyes.
Where is Monaco?
Monaco is a very small country next to the south of France. If you’re on vacation in the South of France, it’s a great destination to go to for at least a day. Because it’s not that big you can see most of the sights within that day.
The easiest way to get to Monaco is by car, just drive from wherever you are located in France. Or you can go by plane – fly to Nice airport and take a rental car from there – or by train also from the South of France.
There are many parking garages in the center with convenient locations. When you have parked your car you can reach most of the sights by foot.
Many people know Monaco from TV, for example from the Formula 1 races or the movies. Maybe you’ve seen the harbor with the beautiful yachts, where the racing cars drive by. You can visit this location and make sure that you do. Those yachts are absolutely breathtaking and they are a nice backdrop for a picture.
Another attraction in Monaco is the palace where Prince Albert lives. Although he actually lives there, there are a number of rooms that you can visit. Also a must is the museum of the car collection of Prince Rainier, Albert’s (deceased) dad and the former Prince of Monaco. Here you will find real classics and even actual racing cars. Finally, a day in Monaco isn’t complete without a visit to the tomb of Princess Grace in the Cathedral of Monaco.
And now for the car enthusiasts! First of all, the Hotel de Paris and the nearby Casino are the place to spot beautiful cars. The latest sports cars are parked between vintage cars and other classic vehicles. Beautiful to see and fun to walk around.
Are you a Ferrari enthusiast? Then you have to go to Ets Cavallari. This is a garage company that maintains Ferrari’s and they always have a lot of beautiful cars inside. You are not allowed to go there, but you are allowed to peek and take pictures. (Think of F40’s, F50, newer models, the Ferrari Dino, etc. Usually they are all in there!)
Monaco is one of the street circuits on the Formula 1 calendar. This means that the racing cars drive through the city, on stretches of road where you, as a non-race car driver, may also go. The famous tunnel? You’ll find it on the Boulevard du Larvotto, and you can also drive your family car through it. As well as the route along the water with all the turns and the yachts.
You’ll even see some kerbstones here and there, which gives you that racing feeling straight away. If you are a big fan of Formula 1, then this is one of the most beautiful races to experience. If only for the atmosphere. It is not cheap but it will probably stay with you your whole life.
Shopping and restaurants
Monaco is not just about luxury brands and chic restaurants. There’s also a McDonalds and a Decathlon, a store with cheap sports items. But a Louis Vuitton store and a Bulgari one can also be found here. The luxury stores, even if you don’t intend on buying something, are a nice place to visit, even to just people watch. You never know what famous person you might see…
Furthermore, there are a lot of souvenir stores, really a lot. They all sell the same stuff, from formula 1 flags to pictures of Prince Albert.
In terms of restaurants you can make it as expensive as you want. The closer you get to the harbor, the more you pay for a meal. You can also spot on the outside if a restaurant is very expensive. It often looks very styled and there are many well dressed gentlemen over 50 sitting in the outside sitting area.
In the streets a little further away from the harbor you will often find good eateries where you pay a lot less. On the other hand, you might only be in Monaco once, if your budget allows it, then it’s nice to feel rich for one day and go to a more expensive place..
All in all, I always have a great time in Monaco. It’s not as fancy as you think but it’s fun to walk around and watch people.