Monte Carlo is on the Riviera between Provence and Italy. A district of Monaco, not its capital, it sits on a rocky headland overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The original fortified town is Monaco-Ville, and this is where you'll find the major sights: the Palace (the guard changes at 11.55 each day and the state apartments are open June-September.), the Cathedral where Grimaldi princes and Princess Grace are buried, and the Oceanographic Museum. Monte Carlo's casino, dating from 1878, is world famous. It, and the opera, are located in Place du Casino. Cars have zoomed and whizzed around the streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine in Formula One's showcase event since 1929.
For a respite from the card tables and fast cars, head to the tranquil Japanese Garden on Avenue Princesse-Grâce. The Princess Grace rose garden in Fontvieille has more than 4,000 rose trees, while the Exotic Garden, with 1,000 different species of cacti, is on Boulevard du Jardin-Exotique. Two hundred feet below are the Observatory Caves. For some free sunbathing pitch up at the manmade Larvotto beach.
Nice-Côte d’Azur International is where cheap flights to Monte Carlo land. It's a 30-minute drive or a ten-minute helicopter ride.
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Monte Carlo insider information
- Hear the words “Faites vos jeux” in the most famous casino of them all. It does have marble and gold, and in the rooms at the back a crowd gathers at lightning speed around someone who is winning or losing in dramatic style.
- Princess Grace, the American film actress who married Prince Rainier and became a queen, is buried in the impressive St Nicholas Cathedral.
- Be here in May for the Monaco Grand Prix. It is the most exciting Formula 1 race with no room for driver error on the 77 laps around the twisting narrow streets of Monte Carlo. Luxurious yachts are moored in the marina and celebrities stay in the Hotel de Paris and the Grand.