Well, you know, we were a little crunched for time but we wanted to see what everyone was gushingabout so we decided to head over to Monaco for
Since we didn’t have one available, we didn’t sail a yacht to the stunning principality locked tightly on rocky ledges between France and Italy
Instead, we boarded the No. 100 bus a block from the back of the cathedral at Port Lympia. For the same €1.50 that brought us across town to the Matisse Museum would bring us to another country.
On the bus, we grabbed a seat on the right side. Be sure you do that.You will be rewarded with amazing views of the Mediterranean and bays, cliffs, and marinas. Stunning houses and beautiful gardens are also along the way.
Monaco is 0.76 square miles and has a population of 33,100 — making it the most densely populated country on earth. Add to that the 363,000 tourists that visit annually and you have a tight squeeze. (Those figures are pre-pandemic but there is every indication that tourists are traveling at at least the same levels as before.)
People crowd the walkway from the the main square in Monaco (the name of the most populous of the principality as well as its capital) to the top of the cliff where the prince’s palace is. There are a couple of streets of shops and restaurants as well.
Prince Albert I (who sat on the throne from 1889 to1922) oversaw the planting of a beautiful exotic garden that winds around the cliffs near the palace. The flora and the views are breathtaking.
A short hike away is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Gothic Revival church was consecrated in the early 20th century. Many of the Grimaldi family, including Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III.
The nearby Oceanographic Museum in its stunning edifice on the edge of a cliff was also established by Albert I. Albert dedicated much of his life to exploration and science — especially of the sea. The €18 entry fee was a little out of our budget since we’d already planned a lunch out, but we enjoyed the views, an octopus in the garden (bronze sculpture by Emma de Sigaldiand), and a yellow submarine (Jacques Cousteau’s first) in the square.
Also in Monaco you can visit a collection of the late Prince Reiner’s cars for €8 and the Museum of Philately and Coinage for just €3.
In the early part of the 20th century, Monaco was mostly known for the casino in its second largest city of Monte Carlo.
Prince Reiner and his son Albert II have moved their principality to an economy based on banking, insurance, and tourism in addition to the casino industry.
We very much enjoyed our short visit. While Monaco, a tax free haven for the super wealthy, is a place for the rich and famous, you can enjoy an afternoon for very little expense.
UPDATE: We are currently on a train to Italy, part of which is a local train that stops in Monaco. I’d like to report that the €12 train does not have the same views.