A short train ride away from Nice is the infamous land of Monaco. Having no airport of its own, Monaco may account for some of the prosperity of Nice judging by the number of private jets we saw there. Our brief exploration of Monaco was blisteringly hot and full to the brim of luxury boats and cars.
You may associate Monaco with formula 1 racing, Grace Kelly, and billionaires. These were essentially the themes on our day-trip there. There were plenty of monuments to the beloved Princess dotted around the city, and plenty of racing-oriented stores for team merchandise. And there was no doubt this is a place where the very wealthy come out to play. The total area of the Principality is 2 square kilometers, making it the second smallest Principality in the world after Vatican City. It’s a small space to fit a lot of moo-lah!
Once we left the train station and started walking along one of the harbour areas, we were dwarfed by the enormous super yachts casually lined up before us. I’ve never seen so many all in one place!
Once we had walked around to the Avenue of Princess Grace, we came across the first ode to formula 1, a small art piece tucked between plants at a roundabout. As we walked through the city, we often came across famous parts of the Monaco Grand Prix track which felt pretty cool. There is evidence everywhere of this race that draws so many to the city.
Climbing a hill when it’s awfully hot always makes it seem like a mammoth task. We walked up to one of the most famous casinos in the world, the Monte Carlo. While the casino initially moved around Monaco, construction at its current site began back in 1858 when Monaco was not the most attractive travel destination and the royal family was battling ongoing financial problems. Today it is a thriving place we know from movies (including animated ones!) and music videos. Fun fact: residents of Monaco are not actually allowed inside the casino! ID checks at the door enforce this particular rule which was introduced by Princess Caroline for ‘moral reasons’.
The streets of Monaco are very pretty, and also extremely quiet when we were there. Most of the shops were closed which seemed a little odd. We climbed up to the Prince’s palace where all the tourists seemed to be. It is like a small town on top of a hill with gorgeous buildings, pretty gardens and the most delicious views of the clear ocean below.
Before leaving we relaxed at a lovely seaside restaurant to enjoy the jovial hospitality of the Italian staff and what Richard describes as the best crab salad he’s ever had!
I’m glad we went to Monaco because we’re unlikely to visit a place with such wealth density again soon. It’s fascinating to see all the super cars casually driving down the road, and all the well heeled people lazing on the beach or stepping from their chauffeured vehicles into the casino. If we were billionaires, I’m sure we would find a lot more to do there. But as it stands, we were happy to spend the afternoon wandering the pretty streets and basking in the ocean views.