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Travel Guide Europe Monaco

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Introduction

Monaco - harbour view #4

Monaco - harbour view #4

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A hearty little pin-prick on France's Mediterranean coast, Monaco measures up to be less than 2 square kilometres. But, with its primary industry being tourism, this has proven to have hardly any effect on the hordes of tourists who charge to Monaco's beaches and cultured night life. Owing much of its fame to Monte Carlo's casino, Monaco is a place geared towards people with lots of cash to burn. Of course, if you're not one of those people, there's still a heck of a lot of fun to be had. The country enjoys prime summer weather year-round (it is estimated that only 65 days a year see poor weather), so settling down on the beach is the most obvious activity. Don't expect seclusion - Monaco is a place for those who like a crowd.

Monaco is surrounded by the country of France on three sides and on the fourth the Mediterranean Sea.

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Brief History

The known history of habitation in Monaco dates back to the end of the Paleolithic period, approximately 300,000 BC, when the Rock of Monaco was used as a shelter for the area's early inhabitants. The area's first permanent settlers Ligures who emigrated from Genoa in Italy. In the 6th century BC, the Phocaeans of Massalia founded the colony of Monoikos, named after its Ligurian inhabitants. Monoikos was associated with Hercules and both Greeks and Ligurian people claimed that Hercules passed through the area. The port is still sometimes known as the "Port of Hercules".

In Roman times, it was known as Monoecus and was part of the Maritime Alps province in the Roman Empire. It remained under Roman control the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476. During the five centuries that followed, the area was ravaged by barbarian tribes until it was eventually populated again by Ligurians in the 11th century.

On June 10, 1215, the construction of a fortress on the Rock of Monaco was begun by Genoese Ghibellines. It is this date that is often considered the beginning of Monaco's modern history. In 1297, the Grimaldis, an ancient Genoese family, seized control of Monaco and it has remained under their control until the present day (excepting a period of French control from 1794 to 1814). It was designated as a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1815 after Napoleon was defeated and its sovereignty confirmed by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. The Prince of Monaco was absolute ruler until 1911.

The Casino of Monte Carlo opened in 1863 and taxes raised from it have been directed into Monaco's infrastructure. In 1918, a treaty was signed which provided limited French protection over Monaco.
Monaco attempted to remain neutral during World War II, although it was torn between French connections and an Italian population. The Italian Army eventually invaded Monaco in 1943. When Mussolini fell in Italy, the German army occupied Monaco and set about deporting the Jewish population.
In 1993, Monaco joined the United Nations as an official member with full voting rights. In 2005, Prince Albert II acceded to the throne following on from his father Prince Rainier III.

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Geography

Monaco takes up a mere 1.98 square kilometres, making it the world's second smallest independent state (after Vatican City). It is surrounded on three sides by France and on the fourth by the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 18 kilometres east of Nice, France and about 10 kilometres to the west of Italy. With a population of 36,371, Monaco is the the most densely populated country in the world. Having a land border of only 4.4 kilometres, a coastline of 4.1 kilometres, a maritime claim that extends 22.2 kilometres, and a width that varies between 1.7 kilometres and 349 metres, Monaco is unique.
The highest point in the country is a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, in the Les Révoires district, it is 161 metres above sea level. While the lowest point in the country is the Mediterranean Sea, at sea level. Saint-Jean is the longest flowing body of water, around 190 metres in length, and Fontvieille is the largest lake, approximately 0.5 ha in size.
Monaco expanded over the water during the decades thanks to land reclamation. More than 20% of Monaco area includes areas built over the sea and it has projects to expand even more in the near future. This is the only way for Monaco to grow right now.

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Quarters

  • Monaco-Ville
  • Monte Carlo
  • La Condamine
  • Fontvieille
  • Le Portier

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Sights and Activities

Monte Carlo Casino

This stunning casino located in the Monte Carlo quarter is one the main tourist attractions in Monaco. The grand entrance and ballrooms can stun anyone. It is also the home to the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, which is an opera and ballet house. Remember to look at the gardens are back and take in the sea view. Every year this casino hosts the European Poker tour Grand Final. The minimum bets at most of the tables in this casino are very high, therefore it might be best to take in the views and not gamble. Citizens of Monaco are forbidden from entering the gaming rooms.

It is possible to visit the Monte Carlo Casino every morning (you'll need to pay a small fee to get access to it). You can even take pictures. But once the players are starting to gamble in the afternoon, it isn't possible anymore to take pictures. Then if you want to gamble, proper attire is required, especially if you want to play in the private rooms (a suit is required there). Don't forget to take a look at the ceilings, those are typical from the 19th century style.

Yachts

Some of the most wealthy people in the world go Monaco on vacation and many of them by boat. They come in amazing yachts that cost more them most people in the world will make in a lifetime. Take a look at these amazing boats and stunning ships for some great photos. If your lucky you might be able to talk your way aboard one of them!

Beaches

Relax and enjoy the surf of some fun beaches. Although not cheap and laid back like the beaches of South East Asia these beaches are great in their own right. Hang out and enjoy the sun and bring your own water to save some money. Remember some of the beaches charge money to enter and some are private. Therefore look out for free beaches and use them. Some beaches are monitored by swimmers during the day and thus they are safe for families with children.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Cathedral of Monaco - Is a beautiful cathedral with nice palm trees out front.
  • Tax Haven - Looking to hide some money or avoid income tax?
  • Shopping - Enjoy some of the best designer shops and styles of southern Europe.

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Events and Festivals

Monaco Grand Prix

The Grand Prix Monaco is the annual Formula One race held in Monaco. It has run since 1929 and is considered the most prestigious tracks on the Formula One circuit. The race snakes through Monaco and goes by many of the famous sights such as the Monte Carlo Casino, the Fairmont hairpin and the Port Hercule with all the yachts. The race is always in late May.

International Circus Festival

Started in 1974 by Prince Rainier, he personally loved circuses and wanted to create a venue where everyone could enjoy a world class show. Since then, circus acts from all over the world come to Monaco in January to perform. Judged on technical difficulty and creativity, the best performances receive the Gold and Silver Clown Awards.

Rose Ball

One of the most elegant and coveted fundraising events of the year is the Rose Ball, held annually in March. Started in 1954 by Grace Kelly, all proceeds goes to the Princess Grace Foundation. Each year the ball has a different theme and is known for the thousands of roses that are used to decorate the Salle des Etoiles venue.

Spring Arts Festival

Monaco’s annual Spring Arts Festival in April attracts artists from all around world. The festival showcases music, dance, arts, and theatre performances held in world-class venues throughout the principality. This is a popular event so tickets need to be purchased well in advance.

Concerts at the Prince’s Palace

Outdoor concerts take place at the palace throughout the summer which were started by Prince Rainier III. Open to the public, visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. The venue is simply breathtaking and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra usually has a beautiful line-up of shows. Concerts begin at 9:30 p.m. and visitors are expected to be seated on time.

Monte-Carlo International Fireworks Festival

Considered one of the best fireworks festivals in the world, this late summer event has been taking place since 1966. Scheduled in July or August, the fireworks are shot from Fort Antoine over the water by pyrotechnics from all over the world competing to put on the best show.

Monaco Yacht Show

Sailing enthusiasts should not miss the annual Monaco Yacht Show in September. Over 100 of the most beautiful and impressive yachts are on display at Port Hercules and 500 vendors come to showcase their wares, a sailing enthusiast’s dream.

Monaco International Marathon

Although this marathon is not on the major running curcuit, it is the only marathon in the world that traverses three countries: France, Italy and Monaco. Between 1,000 and 2,000 people participate in this marathon annually in November.

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Weather

Monaco, like the southeastern coastline of France, has a Mediterranean climate with generally dry, sunny and warm summers and mild but wetter winters. Temperatures during summer (June to September) average around 28 °C with pleasantly warm nights. Winters (December to March) are around 15 °C during the day or slightly lower with chilly nights, though rarely really cold. Summers are dry, while most of the rain falls from November to March.

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Getting there

By Plane

There are no regular scheduled international flights to and from Monaco. The airport nearest to Monaco is at Nice, some 22 kilometres away. Dozens of airlines serve Nice from other European cities and further away. Some of the main destinations include Moscow, Paris, Düsseldorf International Airport, Montreal, Marrakech, Rome, Vienna, London, Brussels, Dubai, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Frankfurt, Beirut, Oslo, Casablanca, Lisbon, Istanbul, Kiev and Barcelona.
There is a direct bus service from Nice Airport (NCE) to Monaco, which stops at major hotels and journey time is around 45 minutes. However if you would like to arrive in class in Monaco you can use Heli Air Monaco which has helicopter flights connecting Nice airport and Monaco Heliport. This quick helicopter trip from Nice to Monaco takes less than 10 minutes! Other connections are on request.

By Train

The Monaco Monte Carlo station was opened in 1867 and is the country's only train station. Services are run by French operator SNCF. Frequent services link the city to Nice, Menton, Cannes and Ventimiglia in Italy. The high-speed TGV train that runs from Nice to Paris stops in Monaco. From Paris, it is about 6 and a half hours by TGV to reach Monaco. Night train services are also available to Paris, Milan, Rome, Strasbourg and Venice.
Apart from the high speed TGV trains, the less expensive Regional Express trains connect with all the towns on the Riveria. Some of these trains stop at all the stations on the Cote d'Azur between Cannes and the Italian frontier, including Monaco.

The Monaco Monte Carlo station is five minutes away from the Casino de Monte Carlo area.

By Car

There are no border restrictions between France and Monaco. Cannes and Nice are 50 kilometres and 18 kilometres west of Monaco. The French/Italian border and Menton are 12 kilometres and 9 kilometres east of Monaco. The European motorway network is 8 kilometres away from the city centre linking Monaco with France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Benelux, Austria and the United Kingdom. Between Monaco and Nice there are other options though , like the attractive roads Highway 98, Basse Corniche, Highway 7, Moyenne Corniche and the Great Coastal Road, Grande Corniche.

Getting from Paris to Monaco by car takes approximately 10 hours via the highway.

By Bus

There are dozens of buses both east and west and inland. A seaside route to Nice with stops at Cap d’Ail, Eze-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Villefranche-sur-Mer is a great route. There is also the Middle Corniche route with stops at Cap d’Ail, Eze-Village and Col de Villefranche. East to Menton there is a seaside route with stops in Roquebrune and Cap-Martin.

By Boat

The main harbours are at Condamine and Fontvieille, which are well equipped to handles yachts of all varieties and even international liners can anchor in the bay of Monaco. Some boats are making the connection between Monaco harbor and French cities on the coast.

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Getting Around

By Foot

Walking is by far the best way to get around Monaco and all the main sights can be reached by foot. Some parts are steep though, so if your physical condition is not how it should be, than using a bus or taxi now and then gives some relief. Also, there are elevators and public lifts in some parts taking you up or down.

By Bike

Bikes or scooters can be rented and it is fairly easy to get around Monaco this way, especially by motorscooter because of the hilly parts.

By Car

Although rental cars are available in Monaco, they are pretty useless in Monaco itself and only of use if you are planning on driving along the coastal route towards Italy or Nice or other places in France. In Monaco, taxis are a better option if you are dying to sit in a car. Taxis are usually offering flat fare courses in Monaco. Observing expensive cars is an even better activity though.

It isn't so easy to park in the street in Monaco due to limited space but don't worry, there are plenty of underground public parkings available for your car.

By Bus

The Compagnie des Autobus Monaco operates a number of bus lines in Monaco. There are 5 lines, numbered 1,2,4,5 and 6 and buses start running at around 6am until around 9pm.

By Boat

If you don't have your own (expensive) yacht, getting around the territorial waters of Monaco is not possible.

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Red Tape

Many nationalities do not need visas for a stay of up to three months, although some might need a visa (South African national for example) but again a Schengen visa is valid if endorsed 'also valid for French territories'.
Things regarding visa requirements are liable to change, so check your embassy or consulate to have the latest details.

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Money

See also Money Matters

Monaco has adopted the Euro (ISO code: EUR, symbol: ) as its official currency. One Euro is divided into 100 cents, which is sometimes referred to as eurocents, especially when distinguishing them with the US cents.

Euro banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500. The highest three denominations are rarely used in everyday transactions. All Euro banknotes have a common design for each denomination on both sides throughout the Eurozone.

The Euro coins are 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, €1 and €2. Some countries in the Eurozone have law which requires cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest 5 cents. All Euro coins have a common design on the denomination (value) side, while the opposite side may have a different image from one country to another. Although the image side may be different, all Euro coins remain legal tender throughout the Eurozone.

Monaco Euros are rarely used in everyday life, as they are quite valuable and generally only coin collectors have them.

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Work

If you are seeking a career aboard one of the many superyachts in Monaco a good place to register and start looking is Crew Central and on the Work Monaco Community.

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Language

Monaco's official language is French, but several other languages are also spoken, including Monégasque. It is the language of the Monegasque people, who represent only 16% of the total population, and is a dialect of Ligurian, somewhat similar to Italian. Italian is also a significant language in Monaco. Roughly 16% of Monaco's population is Italian.

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Eat

How to go wrong? Food in Monaco is universally excellent. There are many fine restaurants, beginning with the Cafe de Paris across the street from the casino, to the waterfront restaurants along the Port de Fontvieille. The Café de Paris is a real institution in Monaco. You can eat there refined bistro style cuisine or simply have a drink while watching the show offered by luxury cars going through the Casino square.

There are a huge variety of other restaurants and cafés in the city with a moderate price tag and excellent food. There are a few simple cafés along the marina-side, more like beach bars than anything else, that serve simple meals such as pizza, salads and hotdogs throughout the day. These can be excellent for simply sitting back during the hot midday with a cold beer or glass of wine, a snack to recharge your batteries from exploring the city, and the gentle lapping of the Mediterranean (and often the roar of supercars) in your ears.

Monaco food culture is a mix of Italian and South of France influences. You can find there delicious sea food, fresh from the Mediterranean sea. If you get there, you should also taste the barbagiuans. This is a fried bun stuffed with vegetables, typical from Monaco.

Here are some recommendations depending on the type of food you are looking for :

  • Japanese : Nobu restaurant at the Fairmont Monte Carlo (no need to introduce Nobu, famous all over the world for its unique concept)
  • Starred restaurant : Alain Ducasse 3 stars restaurant at the Hotel de Paris and the Vistamar (2 stars at the Michelin Guide) at the Hermitage hotel, both are next to the Casino area
  • Italian : La Trattoria, offering a nice view over Monaco bay from its outdoor terrace
  • Organic : Elsa at the Monte Carlo Beach hotel

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Sleep

If you're on a budget, Monaco is not the best place to be. For example, a two star hotel without breakfast and bathroom will cost around €60 per person. Nice is only 1/2 hour away from Monaco and it's very cheap to use the frequent trains. A lot of people only come to Monaco for a day as the city is not so vast and you can tour through major places in a day and then sleep in a French city with cheaper hotels. You can also stay in Beausoleil, a French city next to Monaco where hotel rooms are way more affordable.

Still having a drink or a meal in Monaco hotels is an experience on its own. The Hotel de Paris, the iconic Monaco palace, has been the stage for a number of movies. Its period decor is really unique.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Le Méridien Beach Plaza22, Avenue Princesse GraceHotel
De Paris HotelPlace Du CasinoHotel
Hotel Columbus23, Avenue Des PapalinsHotel
Novotel Monte Carlo 316, Boulevard Princesse-CharlotteHotel
Fairmont Monte Carlo12, Avenue des SpeluguesHotel
Hotel AlexandraBoulevard Princesse-Charlotte 35Hotel
Appart' Valley Porte De Monaco108, Avenue du 3 Septembre Cap d'AilHotel
Monte Carlo Beach HotelAvenue Princesse GraceHotel
Hotel Ambassador10, Avenue Prince PierreHotel
Port Palace7, Avenue John F KennedyHotel
Monte Carlo Bay40, Avenue Princesse GraceHotel
Hermitage HotelSquare Beaumarchais Bp No 277Hotel
Hotel Tulip Inn Monaco Terminus9, Avenue Prince PierreHotel
Metropole4, Avenue De La MadoneHotel
Hotel Mirabeau1, Avenue Princesse GraceHotel
Balmoral Hotel12, Avenue de la CostaHotel
Hotel le Versailles4, Avenue Prince PierreHotel
Hotel Miramar1, Avenue President J F KennedyHotel

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Drink

Champagne has the status of a national beverage in Monaco. A single glass can cost as much as €40 at a fashionable restaurant!

You can find a lot of bars with nice terraces where you can relax and have a drink. Monaco is also the name of a famous refreshing cocktail that includes a mix of beer, lemonade and grenadine. It is called Monaco because of its red color which is one of Monaco official flag colors.

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Health

See also Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Monaco.

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Safety

See also Travel Safety

Monaco is a safe, crime-free location, with a strong police presence. It has the lowest homicide rate of any country in the world, and among the lowest in terms of overall crime rate, having also maintained. Because of their wealthy state, every public space is blanketed with cameras and any kind of disorder may produce an immediate reaction and the attendance of several officers.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Wifi is readily available in Monaco.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Monaco's international telephone code is 377.

Monaco Telecom offers mobile cellular telephone services.

Post

La Poste Monaco offers postal services in Monaco.

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Quick Facts

Monaco flag

Map of Monaco

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Capital
Monaco
Population
32,000
Government
Constitutional Monarchy
Religions
Christianity (Catholic)
Languages
French, English, Italian, Monegasque
Calling Code
+377
Nationality
Local name
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 43.7325291
  • Longitude: 7.418907

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This is version 56. Last edited at 13:17 on Jan 12, 16 by olielo. 20 articles link to this page.

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