While we were in France this summer we drove up to Monaco for a little side trip/overnight. We’ve both always wanted to go to Monaco, and it was only about two hours from where we were staying in France, so of course we had to go!
Monaco, officially the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state/microstate, located on the French Riviera. France borders Monaco on three sides while the other side is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea (i.e. awesome views no matter where you look).
Monaco is most known for the Grand Prix, its casino the Monte Carlo, and for being a go-to destination for the world’s rich and famous.
Monaco is the second smallest, and the most densely populated, country in the world. It’s roughly 500 acres; 3 miles long by 1 mile wide (about the size of Central Park).
While in Monaco we stayed at the Fairmont Monte Carlo Hotel right on the water. When we arrived we decided to ditch our car at the hotel, get settled in, and then venture out to see the sights.
The cars parked outside the Fairmont were ridiculous and the interior was as posh as you could imagine.
Our room overlooked the hotel’s interior courtyard, which was very pretty.
We really wanted to get a sense of the whole country and since Monaco is so small, we decided to do a hop on-hop off bus tour that ran the length of the entire country. The tour had 12 stops including the Place du Palais, Monte Carlo casino, Grimauldi Forum, Musee oceanographique, etc. The tour offered free headphones and an audio tour in 8 different languages.
The huge tour bus bobbed and weaved through the tiny, windy streets of Monaco. At that moment, I was so glad we opted not to drive ourselves around. I thought driving in France was bad, Monaco was downright treacherous!
Our first stop was at the Place du Palais, Prince’s Palace of Monaco, the official residence of the Prince of Monaco. The palace is the highest point in the country and the views were magnificent from the top.
We then walked around the outside grounds of the Place du Palais until the next bus arrived. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather, even though it was like 90 degrees outside. Ack!
Back on the bus we decided to do a loop of the whole country and listen to the audio tour.
We continued to fly through the narrow, windy streets, over and under bridges, dodging cars, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. I’m kind of glad you can’t see the terror on my face in these pictures, haha.
The bus begins its loop at Port Hercule so when we got to that stop, the bus idled for a bit waiting for passengers. We were able to check out the waterfront views from the port, which were amazing. There were yachts of all sizes around us and the entire country built up into the cliffs behind us. I’ve never seen anything like Monaco before!
Our final stop on the bus was at the Monte Carlo Casino, famous for being in many James Bond movies, as well as the untold wealth it attracts from gambling of course. As a rule, citizens of Monaco are not allowed to gamble here. Originally the casino was developed in the 1850’s to save the area from bankruptcy. It succeeded due to the rail from Paris and the hotel/opera nearby. It eventually gained recognition for being the place for the world’s wealthiest to vacation and gamble.
The architecture is stunning and the cars outside were some of the most unique, expensive cars I have ever seen.
We had dinner inside the Fairmont Hotel at their Saphir 24 bistro – a delicious meal overlooking the water and the yachts below.
The next day we enjoyed the morning in our room until it was time to check out. We left around noon and headed back to Ramatuelle for the rest of our vacation in France.