Welcome to Monaco
Monaco; the small principality that exudes luxury, exclusivity and where a movie star married her very own Prince charming. Monaco's history is intertwined with famous names, glamorous living and sometimes the scandal that comes when royals mingle with politicians, artists, icons of the fashion world, sports and movie stars.
A melting pot of cultures and nationalities and taking up an area just over 2km squared, Monaco is nestled between the French and Italian Rivieras. It offers up an array of luxury hotels, international sporting events, the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, multi-million euro yachts and of course the chance to visit the infamous Monte-Carlo casino. This legendary building is not only the most famous casino in the world, but also an architectural gem and wonderful example of the Belle Epoque style.
With a population of around 36,300, Monaco is the most densely populated country in the world. And although not quite a city, the Quartier of Monte-Carlo is a bustling hive of activity, shopping, fast cars and leisurely lunches! The three main areas within Monaco are La Condamine, Monte-Carlo and Monaco Ville.
La Condamine lies to the south-west of the principality, and includes Port Hercules and Monaco's business district. Restaurants and bars line the port, looking out on superyachts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The port is seriously good for people-watching, particularly during the Monaco Grand Prix when F1 cars scream around the infamous bend at Rascasse. The Princess Caroline district is a smart pedestrianised area set back from the port with lots of good shops and plenty of places to eat and drink. It is distinctly upmarket, but has a relaxed friendly vibe and is a nice place to browse for a couple of hours. La Condamine is home to a traditional covered market that has been selling local produce since 1880; if ever there was a time to try some hot socca or a slice of fresh pissaladiere, this is it. During the summer months, the promenade above the port is transformed into a long noisy strip of fairground rides, bouncy castles, go-karts, and ice cream stalls-there’s also an open-air swimming pool with twisty water slides- what more could you want?
Monte Carlo: just the name conjures up images of glittering casinos, supercars and belle epoque hotels. And the truth is exactly that: this tax-free haven under the Mediterranean sun attracts celebrities and oligarchs in droves! The greatest drawcard is the famous Place de Casino with its glittering Casino de Monte Carlo, Hotel de Paris and grand gardens with fountains. In the district's east quarter you'll find the Grimaldi Forum Convention Centre and Monaco's only public beach, Larvotto. The place to be seen is the Café de Paris, right next door to the famous Monte Carlo casino. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and after dark it fills up with people celebrating casino wins with champagne cocktails and partying on the open air dancefloor. Other glamorous nightspots include Jimmyz and Buddha Bar, both nearby.
Monaco Ville refers to the old town of Monaco, or 'The Rock' which sits perched on a peninsula high above the Mediterranean. Many people refer to Monaco-Ville as an outdoor museum, and as you wander through the narrow medieval streets and vaulted passageways and watch the changing of the guard in front of the Prince's palace high above the sea, you'll probably feel the same way. Monaco Ville is often mistakenly believed to be the 'capital' of Monaco, though in fact it is a city-state. Some of the old town has been restored or rebuilt in grand style to look much older- such as the 'medieval' clock tower, which was actually built in the 19th century. Yet the effect is all very impressive- and the views up here are spectacular- you can actually see three countries at once!