The Principality of Monaco is a small monarchy with a
population of about 15,000 permanent residents. It is completely
surrounded by France and the Mediterranean. The city of Monte
Carlo occupies about a quarter of the land area and is home to about 4,000
permanent residents. In French the name is hyphenated. Today
the city is a haven for the wealthy due to its lack of income taxes.
The Grimaldi family has controlled Monaco for centuries. Probably
the most famous recent Grimaldi was Prince Rainier III who married the
American actress Grace Kelly in a fairy tale wedding. Princess Grace
died in an auto accident in 1982. Prince Rainier passed away in 2005
and Prince Albert II took the throne. French is the preferred
language in Monte Carlo and tourists will find a noticeable reluctance to
accommodate other languages.
Monaco is not a member of the Schengen
Zone, but it relies on the rules of France
for visa requirements. If you can get in to France, there are no
restrictions preventing you from entering Monaco.
Monaco participates in the use of the Euro even
though it is not a member of the European Union.
Summer extends from June to September in Monte Carlo.
Average highs in July and August are 80 F (27 C) and lows are
about 70 F (20 C). Winter extends from December to
February with average highs of 55 F (14 C) and lows of 43 F
(6 C). Rainfall is heaviest from October through
December. July and August are the driest months and combined with
the warm weather, make these the two most popular months for tourism.
accommodation in Monte Carlo are extremely high and most tourists stay in
Nice or other nearby towns. There is no international airport in
Monaco, so flights are booked through Nice, France. The wealthy
arrive by private yacht. For the regular tourist, it is easy to catch the frequent rail
service from Nice for day trips to Monte Carlo. The train takes
about 20 minutes and arrives at Gare de Monaco-Monte-Carlo. From
there it's not more than a 20 minute walk to any destination in Monte
Carlo. A great option from the train station is the Monaco Hop-on Hop-off Tour
which has stops at the Casino, Port Hercule, the Palace, the Cathedral and
the aquarium. Another option is the city's Azur Express Tourist
Train, which is actually an open air bus disguised as a train. It
covers the same stops as the hop-on-hop-off and more. The ticket
booth for the "train" is across from the aquarium. Cruise
ships dock at Port Hercule. Passengers can walk up the hill to the
Palace, Cathedral and aquarium in about 20 minutes.
Cathedrale de Monaco
- Roman Catholic Church where the Grimaldi's are buried. This church
is also known as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate
Conception and Saint Nicholas Cathedral.
- Jacques Cousteau was a director, but this isn't on the Take
That Vacation list aquariums to see. Try the gardens beside
the museum instead.
by Tim Anderson
It takes 3 trains, including one reservation, to get from Monterosso to Monaco, the stops being Genoa and Ventimiglia.
The last section of open seating took us to our personal travel disaster in Monte Carlo.
This town too was over run, this
time by the time-trials for the Grand Prix. First it was difficult to exit the train, as there were throngs of people waiting to
board the train. They rushed 5 deep from across the entire platform.
As I tried to step out onto the platform, the flood blasted
me backward. Those behind me shouted and pushed me out the door through the massive surge.
When we tried to exit the
station, the exit was blocked with chain link fence. An attendant finally explained in French that we would need to go to the
end of the platform, turn left, take a tunnel that led to a side street and then climb the hill if I wanted to get to the aquarium at the
Musee Oceanagraphique, (which Jacques Cousteau was
once director of). Basically, the cab or bus ride normally taken would need to be made on foot today. My travel companions
will never forgive me. We had to ask directions twice more along the way and climbed a hill with numerous steps with our
luggage. Along the way I got pics of the race trials, the Palace, the statue of Grimaldi, the
Cathedrale de Monaco and finally the aquarium.
we had arrived any other day, we could have taken the Azur Express Tourist
Train to easily see all the sites in a very short period of time.
The aquarium was a disappointment. It wasn’t nearly as nice as some other aquariums, such as
the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta or the Maui Ocean
Center on Maui. It was a
small aquarium that took up the lower two floors of the building. The third floor was a strange museum with some old relics from diving, bones of whales structured to complete skeletons, fossils, wooden boat models and various sea creatures preserved in
formaldehyde. The top floor had some views of the city and the ocean, which was probably the best part.
Not a great experience and some very unhappy travelers, who were developing calluses from pulling their bags.
We found a free bus
down the hill, but had to walk through town and then walked on the closed freeway that led to the train station.