So yesterday I decided to return to Monaco for the day, having visited Monte-Carlo and Monaco-Ville last year. Even though it was August last time, it lashed rain for the whole afternoon- not that that stopped us! We just had to wait out the thunder and lightning while sitting in the cruise-ship like Metropole Shopping Centre bingeing on the free wifi!
Anyway, I left Cannes at 10.22am and arrived in La Gare de Monte-Carlo at 11.30am. The train is so much faster if you don’t fancy taking the scenic €1.50 bus journey from Nice and arguably more comfortable! Another option is a helicopter from Cannes to Monaco which works out at about €160 for a single journey or €65 each if there’s three people travelling!
So i’m not going to go through a blow by blow account of my day but if you are visiting Monaco or Monte-Carlo, here are my top tips and things to do!
- Visit the Casino in Monte-Carlo
There are actually no words to the describe the sheer opulence that surrounds the Monte-Carlo Casino. Unfortunately no photos are allowed inside the casino for security reasons but you can do a virtual tour on their website (Link below). The casino is open in the morning if you just want to walk around the games and entertainment rooms for a look and the entry fee is €10. The casino then closes from around 12pm until it reopens at 2pm for playing. Entry after 2pm is €17 but there are offers if you buy Black Jack or Roulette tokens with it. And remember to bring a valid ID-Passport or Drivers License. I of course had neither, with my driver’s license being at home in the glove box! So after a bit of persuasion with the two managers of the casino, I put the good Age Card on the map for Ireland! Funny enough, one of the managers daughters is studying in Trinity so we had a great chat about Dublin!
2. The Metropole Shopping Centre
Even though I prefer Dundrum Town Centre, you have to visit the Metropole Shopping Centre to really get a sense of the wealth in Monaco. Not that you won’t have already gotten this sense from the Ferraris and Lamborghinis speeding around the one-way streets. The whole centre is underground and is just another example of the excellent use of space in Monaco! The interior of the centre echos that of a cruise ship with magnificent marble staircases and huge crystal chandeliers amongst the designer stores. If you’re looking for a pair of reasonable H&M shorts, this is definitely not the place! To be honest, it’s great for the free wifi but when every second store is Lanvin, Gucci or Kenzo it’s hard to actually ‘shop’ in the shopping centre!
3. The Gardens in Monaco
There are various little parks and gardens throughout Monaco, all immaculately kept. The one between the Metropole Shopping Centre and Les Pavillions Monte Carlo is great for a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the main square. My favourite is the gardens on the roof of the Fairmont Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean sea. It’s never too busy and again provides a quieter area of relaxation in the heart of the madness!
4. Walk Everywhere
It’s definitely the best way to discover everything Monaco and Monte-Carlo has to offer. There are hop-on hop-off buses and little train tours but walking is the way to go, so wear comfortable shoes! I actually wore my favourite penneys sandals and my feet survived until around 6pm! It’s also much easier to take photos when you’re walking, unlike being on the bus which only stops at certain locations. Especially around Monaco-Ville, it’s really nice to spend an hour strolling down the narrow streets of the old town and taking the time to appreciate the views. You’ll also stumble upon little shops and things you otherwise wouldn’t have seen, so even if you’re feet will be dead the next day- like mine are now- currently lying on the bed of my hotel room in Cannes, it’s 100% worth it!.
5. Spoil Yourself!
Usually I wouldn’t be into excessive spending, but yesterday I decided to really treat myself and have dinner on the balcony of the Monte-Carlo Casino and I actually can’t begin to describe how amazing it was! The view- overlooking the sea, the peace, the impeccable service and of course the food was all exceptional! I had a grilled chicken dish with avocado and mexican sauce as a main course and then a chocolate fondant cake for dessert, paired with my €6 Evian Pure water and a glass of rose! It sounds like something from a movie, and to be honest I felt like I was in one. So whether you splurge on a designer handbag or a fabulous meal, do something you wouldn’t usually do while in Monte-Carlo and it really makes for an experience that you will always remember!
So those are just some of my top tips for visiting Monaco! Don’t forget to check back for my next travel blog and follow on instagram for daily updates of my travels!