Monte Carlo is perhaps the most famous of Monaco’s administrative areas and a preferred port of call for many cruise visitors to the Mediterranean. This tiny geographical gem is known as a paradise for jetsetters and gamblers. The best way to explore this affluent and chic city is on foot. You’ll experience not only the best of city living, but also beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean. Monte Carlo is known for its casinos, gambling, glamour, sightseeing and more. The yachts are as big as mansions, champagne is the national drink and even the railway station looks like a pharaoh’s tomb.
Here are seven places any trip to Monte Carlo should include.
Prince’s Palace – If you’re in Monte Carlo between June and October, be sure to visit the Prince’s Palace, which was originally built in 1191 as a fortress. Over three million brilliantly coloured pebbles are arranged in geometric patterns within the grand courtyard, and the palace also features a Carrara marble stairway and brass cannons from the era of Louis XIV.
Monte Carlo Casino and Cafe de Paris – Charles Garnier designed the magnificent gold and marble atrium in this famous casino, which was built in 1863. Overlooking the Mediterranean, the Monte Carlo Casino also includes an opera and ballet house called the Grand Theatre de Monte Carlo, and is the headquarters of the Ballets de Monte Carlo. A visit to Monte Carlo should definitely include a meal at the famous Cafe de Paris. Opened in 1962, the cafe features both indoor and outdoor seating areas, and is conveniently located in Casino Square.
Old Town – Old Town is the more traditional part of Monte Carlo, and it features numerous classy bars and restaurants. The traditional Monegasque cuisine you’ll find here includes dishes like Stocafi, which is dried cod cooked in rich tomato sauce, and Fougasse, a pastry decorated with nuts and aniseed.
Metropole Mall – The Métropole is Monaco’s version of a mall, located at the foot of the prestigious Hotel Métropole. The Métropole gallery, with its 80 boutiques, opposite the Casino Gardens welcomes you into a luxury décor of beautiful marble under a magnificent period chandelier. The exclusive shopping gallery, a multi-level haven, is home to more designer shops than seems possible: Swarovski, Kenzo, Christian Lacroix, Lacoste, Espace Mirage, Pomellato and more.
Monte-Carlo Thermes Marins – All that shopping and dining is bound to put you in the mood for some serious pampering, and the Thermes Marins is the luxury spa that does just that. This four-storey complex enjoys a fabulous location, facing the sea and directly connected to the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. The centre specialises in sea water therapies and manual relaxation therapies, blending ancestral techniques with leading edge methods, such as aquagym baths, hydromassage, pressotherapy, shiatsu, sophrology and energising massages with essential oils. The delightful L’Hirondelle restaurant offers tasty, light meals and also looks over the sea.
Monaco Cathedral – Built in 1875, the Monaco Cathedral is where Princess Grace and Prince Ranier III are buried. The Cathedral sits atop the site of the first parish church in Monaco, which was built in 1252 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. It also features a majestic four-keyboard organ.
The Grand Prix Racing Route – When the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix isn’t taking place, the route follows city streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine, around the harbour. Electronic versions of the route are famous enough to be included in computer games like Gran Turismo, and 2003’s R: Racing Evolution.