The Allure of Monaco
Monaco is the second smallest sovereign state in the world after Vatican City. Monaco doesn't have a separate capital due to its small size and is called a Principality since it is governed by a Prince. Monaco has an area of 2.02 sq. km (0.78mi) but over the decades has been reclaiming land from the sea to slowly extend its borders while being surrounded by France. There can be some confusion between Monte-Carlo and Monaco. Monaco is the name of the country. The city of Monaco has a number of neighborhoods, and Monte-Carlo is one of these. It is the district overlooking Port Hercules and where you will find the casino and many luxury hotels, shopping and residences.
There are a variety of reasons why people find Monaco so alluring: 1. Royalty. If you love hearing about the lives of royal families around the world then Monaco is definitely the place to be. Here the Grimaldi family has ruled for over 700 years and it’s not unusual to either catch a glimpse or if you are lucky enough, to even meet various members of the royal family and their offspring at various events or in passing in day to day life. 2. Grace Kelly. While filming the iconic Alfred Hitchcock movie, To Catch A Thief in the region in 1954, the then actress was invited by Prince Rainier III to visit the Prince’s Palace which then lead to a romance and eventual royal wedding. Her acclaim helped develop Monaco into a modern worldwide travel destination and her presence can still be felt throughout the country.
3. Money. The best of the best can be seen and bought here. The most rare and unimaginable can be found and constructed. If one lives in, applies or follows specific legal rules, Monaco can be considered a tax haven for many. One in three residents is considered to be at least a millionaire. It is also one of the many homes of the top ten billionaires in the world. It also has a poverty and employment rate of zero.
4. Security. Monaco is one of the safest places on earth. Those who live and visit the country are unobtrusively monitored by the most sophisticated in 24-hour surveillance system and protection services for their well-being. There is one police officer for every 100 people. It is not unusual to see people daily wearing very expensive jewelry pieces or driving the finest in sports cars with little fear of being robbed since crime is extremely low.
5. Lavish Wealth. The country is exceedingly full of wealth and that can be seen in the lifestyle of the residents in where they shop, live and even eat. This also makes the country a draw for social media influencers hoping to attract attention by simply having their photo taken in the country’s various glamorous backdrops.
6. Monte-Carlo Casino. An historical, captivating landmark this remarkably beautiful Beaux Arts style building not only houses the casino but also the likes of Chanel, Buddha Bar and the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. There is a gambling ban for residents in place which leaves all the gambling up to tourists and foreign residents. A number of James Bond thrillers have been filmed here along with other movies and even Kylie Minogue’s, On A Night Like This Video was partially filmed at this location.
7. Luxury Shopping. If you can imagine it and afford it, it can be found or designed for you here. The usual high-end boutiques such as Hermes, Cartier, Balenciaga (to name a very few) are situated here but the difference being that many of these boutiques also offer one of a kind, superior haute couture pieces of fashion or jewelry. The same can be said for any number of brand sports cars and super yachts.
8. Monaco Grand Prix. A not to be missed weekend event in May that brings together not only sports enthusiasts from around the world but the international jet set who mix and mingle with the who’s who in the world of sports and celebrity. Day and night the party atmosphere never stops as people watch the races from the balconies of private homes, luxury hotels and the decks of mega yachts in the port. During the evening the nightclubs and restaurants are also in high gear catering to the crowd in attendance.
9. The Prince’s Palace. The official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco is a historic, majestic palace that dates back to 1191. This is a working palace where not only the royal family resides but it also holds many of the offices of Prince Albert to help maintain duties of the principality and welcome international guests. The changing of the guard takes place daily and tours are available inside specific areas of the palace. As a side note, Princess Charlotte, Princess Stephanie and other members of the royal family also have villas and apartments minutes away from the palace on Le Rocher.
10. Oceanography Museum. Within a five minute walk from the Prince’s Palace is the Oceanography Museum of Monaco. This outstanding architectural masterpiece houses the marine sciences and sits right on the edge of the Monaco cliffs with the Mediterranean Sea below. Designed over 100 years ago it is not only a museum but also a conference centre with the main draw being the aquarium that holds more than 6000 species. Be sure to go to the roof to take in more of the panoramic views of the sea and principality where you can also enjoy lunch in the rooftop restaurant.
11. The Exotic Garden. The Jardin Exotique de Monaco is a botanical garden located on a cliffside that dates back more than 75 years. The exotic garden offers a fantastic view of the principality and holds thousands of varieties of plants. Here you can also take a guided tour of a prehistoric cave that leads you down 196.8 feet (60 meters) and offers you the opportunity to see the stalactites and learn more of what has been discovered during the first journeys down below. 12. Nightlife. Open until dawn, the summer months are the best time to discover the clubs for yourself where it is not unusual to rub elbows with major international celebrities, rock stars and royalty, many of which also own amazing villas and luxurious yachts nearby.
13. Restaurants. For all the foodies out there, Monaco is the place to be. A culinary delight for many, whatever you are craving or have always wanted to try is available to indulge in. Here for the most part, French and Italy fushion takes place along with any other cultural feast imaginable with Michelin run restaurants such as: BeefBar, Restaurant Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo, Blue Bay, Restaurant Yoshi and the newly designed Le Grill at the Hotel de Paris.
14. The Cars Collection of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco. A short walk below from the Prince’s Palace is a museum dedicated to every car enthusiasts out there. Everything from the rarest antique and super cool cars is available. Prince Rainer III was a big collector of cars and funded the museum; his personal collection can be found here including the Rolls Royce that was used by Grace Kelly on her wedding day.
15. Helicopter Tours. The quickest way to get around not only Monaco but the French Riviera and beyond is by helicopter and a number of companies are situated at the edge of the principality and offer tours of Monaco and the surrounding countryside. Or make the most out of your vacation time and take direct helicopter flights to and from the Nice airport or even start your weekend off with a trip to places such as Saint Tropez. 16. Paragliding. At the border east of Monaco is Roquebrune Cap Martin, take a tour high in the mountains and past the private estate retreat of the Royal Family where you can go on any number of paragliding trips for various lengths of time in the air. Certified instructors will take you on paragliding panoramic flights over the principality and into other areas such as the peninsula of Cap Martin leaving you memories of a lifetime as you eventually land on the beaches below.
17. Hiking. Get your exercise in and also get a bird’s eye view of what makes up the Principality of Monaco at the same time. This part of France and Monaco are known for their various hiking trails and while not technically in Monaco, above it is one of the most famous vantage points of Tete de Chien. The walk and climb from the Monaco Train Station to the top only takes about 2.5 hours and offers stunning views of not only Monaco but to the east you can see down the coastline into Italy and to the west one can see down the coast towards Cannes to Theoule-sur-Mer.
18. Monaco Yacht Show. Held every September in Port Hercules, it is Europe's biggest in-water display of yachts of all sizes, usually the bigger the better. Networking (and partying) at this international weekend of events goes beyond the yacht community and into other areas of commerce and entertainment as well such as: luxury real estate and super cars.
Year round there is always something to experience in the Principality of Monaco.