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- Commune de Monaco
Wiki Voyage Travel Information
The Principality of Monaco ( French : Principauté de Monaco) is a city-state which lies between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by the French Riviera to the east and west, with the Italian Riviera only a few kilometres further to the east.
This is the second smallest independent state in the world (after the Vatican ) and is almost entirely urban. Monte Carlo is not the capital of Monaco but a government district. The country is divided into nine sectors: Monaco-Ville (the old city), the Condamine (port quarter), Monte-Carlo (business and recreation) and Fontvieille (recreation and light industry) are the most well-known among them. With no natural resources to exploit other than its location and climate, the principality has become a resort for tourists and a tax haven for wealthy individuals. Monaco is six times the size of the Vatican and the world's most densely populated country. While its borders have not moved since 1861 (when it de jure lost over 80% of its territory to France), Monaco has still grown its territory by creating artificial land from the sea, which is how the area Fontvielle came to be.
Although not technically part of the Schengen Area, there are no border controls when entering or exiting Monaco from France, so it can for all practical purposes be considered part of the Schengen Area.
The nearest airport is Nice () in neighbouring France, which is around 40km (25mi) away from the city centre. It operates daily flights to nearly all of Europe's main cities, such as London and Paris . There are regular Rapide Cote D'Azur buses connecting Monte Carlo with both the terminals at Nice Cote-D'Azur airport, and taxis are always available outside the terminal buildings - although make sure a fee is agreed in advance or the meter is indeed switched on at the start of the journey, as shady French taxi drivers are notorious for charging tourists whatever they see fit.
There are several helicopter charter companies that carry out regular transfers between Monaco and the rest of the French Riviera, the Italian Riviera, Switzerland and the Alps. Since Monaco does not have an airport, helicopter transfers are the easiest way of getting to the Principality from the Nice airport, where major helicopter carriers, such as Heli Securite or Heli-Air Monaco operate regular charter flights from Nice to Monte Carlo. After collecting your luggage at the Nice airport, you go to the helicopter service waiting area. The helicopter ground crew takes you and your luggage from the Nice airport to the Nice heliport, on the other side of the airport, by van. The flight along the coast is beautiful, and you land right at the water's edge at the , where a car service takes you directly to your hotel. Other than arriving by yacht, this is the only acceptable way for the elite traveller to enter Monaco. Rates vary seasonally, in the range of €100-300. They spike up to €700 or more, however, during the Cannes Film Festival, usually held in late May.
is the principality's only railway station and operated by the French railway company SNCF. It is located about 300m back from Port Hercule. There are lockers for left luggage.
There are good connections to the nearby parts of France and Italy which are run mainly by SNCF and also Trenitalia. There are 2-4 services per hour to Nice , Cannes , Menton and Ventimiglia (Italy).
Trains to further afield also stop in Monaco, such as the 'Ligure' ( Marseilles - Milan ), the 'Train Bleu' ( Paris - Ventimiglia ), the high-speed TGV ( Nice - Paris , 6h30min) and the longest train journey wholly in Europe ( Nice - Moscow , 47h) run by Russian Railway.
From Ventimiglia , it is easier not to use the Trenitalia counters or machines. Go to the travel agency (the only one) inside the station, which is marked with the sign of SNCF (French Railways). Return tickets not tied to a specific train are also available. Remember to validate your tickets just before boarding using the machines on the platforms.
Monaco is easily accessed by its land borders from France or Italy by a network of highways, most commonly used of which is the A8 which runs west from Monte Carlo to Nice and Marseilles, and east towards the Italian border.
Between Nice and Monaco, there are also three more scenic roads: the Basse Corniche (Low Coast-Road - Highway 98), along the sea, the Moyenne Corniche (Middle Coast Road - Highway 7), going through Eze-Village, and the Grande Corniche (Great Coast Road), going through La Turbie and Col d'Eze (Eze Pass). All are pretty drives offering spectacular views over the Coast line. For an extra-special treat, rent a convertible sports car from the many airport rental services and take in the French Riviera in style.
Taxi trips to and from Nice cost around 90€. So if you're on your own the helicopter is a viable alternative.
There is no bus station in Monaco. Instead, international buses stop at various points throughout the city. Regular buses, run by Rapide Cote D'Azur, connecting Monaco with Nice and other French destinations. Services run regularly to many major French towns and cities. Route 100 leaves every 15min from the central bus station (Gare Routière) in Nice and costs only €1.50. An express shuttle, route 110, links the Nice Côte d'Azur Airport and Menton with multiple stops near all major hotels throughout Monaco, not just the ward of Monte Carlo. A bus leaves every half hour and a single ticket costs €22 (Sep 2016), a round-trip will set you back by €33 (Sep 2016).
Monaco's two ports are no strangers to private yachts. is exceptionally beautiful and offers mooring and anchoring possibilities for up to five hundred vessels, some of which are extremely large and elegant (in fact, many tourists often take time out of their day to simply have a drink by the water and admire the fantastic super yachts). The , integrated into the new district, can receive as many as 60 vessels of at least 30m in length. Both are large and well-equipped.
Monaco also serves as an embarkation port and port-of-call for cruises, so large cruise ships can often be spotted sailing in or out of Port Hercule.
In close proximity, the Port of Cap d'Ail is also a choice destination for pleasure-boats.
A pleasant way to arrive in Monaco is to walk on the "" (seaside trail), about a 45-minute walk on a concrete path in a natural and peaceful setting. Take the train and stop at the Cap d'Ail train station (the last before Monaco when coming from Nice; not all the trains stop there). Outside of the train station, follow the road a few meters and take the stairs on the left to pass under the tracks. Once you reach the small road, turn left and walk a few meters, then take the stairs on your right next to the restaurant "La Pinède" to join the trail. If you want to do the route from Monaco to Cap d'ail station, go to the west of Fontvieille ward, cross to the French border to join the Cap d'Ail port and follow the seashore. After a few minutes you will arrive to the "" just after a final parking lot. It can be dangerous and closed in case of bad weather. In this case you will have either to go back and take the train, or walk on the road. Note that there is no lighting at night.
Walking is by far the best way to get around Monaco; however, there are some areas, such as the Exotic Gardens, that require a large change in elevation and therefore make for rather strenuous hikes. There are also seven public escalators and elevators (all free) that help negotiate the steep slopes of the city. If you find yourself afoot and wanting to reach the opposite bank of Port Hercule, look for the small , a pedestrian-only ferry that runs each 20 minutes or so during daylight; it costs €2.
Monaco has an urban bus service, operated by the Compagnie des Autobus Monaco, through the city's five bus routes (labeled 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6) which serves 143 stops. Each stop has the bus number(s) that stop there, and most stops feature a real-time display showing waiting times for the next service. Each stop has a name and a network map. The service usually starts at around 6 in the morning and runs right through until about 9 o'clock at night. Tickets can be purchased on board the buses themselves (2€) or at many news vendors and shops throughout the city and at auto ticket machines at the bus stops (1.50€) - often it will be advertised as to where you can do this. A daily pass allows you to use the buses all day for €5.50 (9/2016) and can also be purchased on board the bus. A night bus service operates in a circular route from 22.00 until 04.00.
By motor scooter
You can easily rent a motor scooter in Nice and take a short trip east along the sea into Monaco. The views are beautiful and the ride is fun along the twisty seaside road. There are plenty of places to park for free. Theft is not a concern, as there are cameras throughout and police everywhere. To rent one whilst there, you must be at least 16 years old.
It is not possible to hire a bicycle in Monaco itself (as of Sep 2016) but in neighbouring Menton and Cap d'Ail. Cycling is definitely a good option to get around in Monaco, but the traffic in high season can be intimidating.
Private cars are singularly useless for getting around Monaco, as you'll spend more time trying to park than if you walked or took a taxi instead.
International car hire companies do have offices at the airport in Nice and also in Monte Carlo city. These include Avis, Gare Monte Carlo, Europcar and Hertz - drivers must have held a national driving license for at least one year and it is usually requested that the cost is paid for with the driver's credit card. Driving in the city center can be intimidating in Monte Carlo with heavy traffic - however, it is often worth this to drive alongside the more expensive vehicles in the city! Make sure to request a car with an automatic gearbox if you are not used to driving manual.
Taxis cannot be hailed on the streets (they won't stop) and there are two main taxi stands open around the clock at the Avenue de Monte Carlo and the railway station, although it is always best to agree a fee beforehand or make sure the meter is running. Most hotels will provide taxis or courtesy drivers. The best is to get the taxi service phone number to be able to call a taxi wherever your are.
French is the official and most frequently used language, with Italian also common. Monagasque, the historic language of the native populace, is taught in schools, but in practice is rarely used outside of official documents and street signs. Due to Monaco's status as a destination for wealthy visitors, English is widely understood, as are many other languages.
The principality of Monaco offers a great balance of historical and modern attractions. There are various museums and palaces to visit as well as shopping malls and casinos. Monaco also offers relaxation spots along the harbor and even around the attractions. It is relatively easy to navigate Monte Carlo and Monaco if you take the time to learn where the various "short cuts" are. City maps are generally available at most news vendor stands and shops for a small fee. The could be a good starting point before venturing to explore the city.
- In the summer time, Monte-Carlo is illuminated with dazzling concerts at the exclusive Monte-Carlo Sporting Club. The club has featured such artist as Natalie Cole, Andrea Bocelli, the Beach Boys, Lionel Richie and Julio Iglesias among others. The club also hosts a small casino which includes basic casino games. With no one under the age of 18, the rate per person is 20€.
- Aquavision: Discover Monaco from the sea during this fascinating boat tour! "Aquavision" is a catamaran-type boat equipped with two windows in the hull for underwater vision, thus allowing the passengers to explore the natural seabed of the coast in an unusual way. The boat can take up to 120 people per journey. The cost for adults is 11€, while the cost for children and students ages 3-18 is 8€.
Currency exchange is readily available for a wide range of currencies. ATMs are commonplace.
Shopping in Monte Carlo is usually quite exclusive and is certainly no place for a budget holiday. There are plenty of places to melt the credit card alongside Europe's high rollers. The chic clothes shops are in the Golden Circle, framed by Avenue Monte Carlo, Avenue des Beaux-Arts and Allees Lumieres, where Hermes, Christian Dior, Gucci and Prada all have a presence. The area on and around Place du Casino is home to high-end jewelers such as Bulgari, Cartier and Chopard. You will find, however, that most tourists will simply enjoy wandering the area and window shopping, even if you don't buy anything. The normal shopping hours are from 9AM to noon and 3PM to 7PM.
For a more cultured take on shopping in Monte Carlo, try the Condamine Market. The market, which can be found in the Place d'Armes, has been in existence since 1880 and is lively and attractive - many hours can be spent simply wandering around, bargaining for souvenirs from the many tiny shops, boutiques and friendly locals. If however, your shopping tastes are more modern, just take a short walk along the esplanade to the rue Princess Caroline pedestrian mall.
The Fontvieille Shopping Centre is also a more "normal" shopping experience with 36 shops selling electronic goods, CDs, furniture, and clothes as well as a Carrefour supermarket and McDonald's. The tourist office also issues a useful free shopping guide to the city.
Some stores to browse or buy:
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. During the winter months, you will find the restaurants to be decently priced-for Monaco. Bouillabaisse is excellent here.
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. Most of these restaurants are equipped with water-misters in the ceilings that gently cool and refresh the clientele.
Dining in Monaco can be a very sobering experience to whomever is paying the bill. Perhaps the most exclusive and famous restaurants in the city are the Louis XV Restaurant and the Le Grill de L'Hotel de Paris, both centered on the very exclusive Hotel de Paris. You are more than likely to be seated next to a member of the rich and famous, and the gourmet food is simply out-of-this-world - however, these experiences come with a rather hefty price tag!
Champagne has the status of a national beverage in Monaco. A single glass can cost as much as €40 at a fashionable restaurant!
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. A better option is to stay in one of the many towns outside of Monaco, for example Ventimiglia, which is a sea-side town situated on the French-Italian border on the Italian side. Nice is only 1/2 hour away from Monaco and it's very cheap to use the frequent trains. During the winter season, a comfortable two star hotel will only cost you about €20 a person.
The Monaco Tourism center staff will also sit down and make phone calls to assist walk-ins in finding accommodation. Even if you ask for "cheap" lodging.
- PV-Holidays have two properties in the area. Each room is a self-catering studio or apartment. Located in Beausoleil both properties range from €150-€160 per night. +33 1 58 21 55 84
- Colombus Hotel: Situated in La Condamine, the Colombus Hotel is co-owned by successful Glaswegian hotelier Ken McCulloch, designer Amanda Rosa and British F1 racing driver David Coulthard (all Monaco residents today). There is an excellent restaurant and the lobby is a great spot to relax on the comfortable sofas. Rooms are modern. The hotel is located just by the heliport, and about 200 meters from the Stade Louis II.
In many ways, the Respect section of the France page can detail how to be respectful toward the Monegasque population, but it should be noted that Monaco is a separate nation and it would be very insulting to casually conflate the two. Keep in mind that Monaco's population retain their own history, their own culture, and their own lifestyle. With that in mind, everyone is approachable, happy to chat with you and globally simply kind. Directions or other help are only a smile and a question away.
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. 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. Homosexuality is legal, although there are no official gay places in Monaco.
- Other places at the Cote d'Azur , like Èze , Nice , Antibes , Cannes , Saint Tropez , Marseille , ...
- Maritime Alps
- Italy ( Ligurian coast , Genoa , Milan , et al.)
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