As we sailed into the glittering port of Monte Carlo, we couldn’t help feeling like we were entering a fairy-tale. Nothing about this elegant gem at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera seems the least bit real, but its stylish, sophisticated aura is both welcoming and intoxicating. It is immaculately clean, safe, chic, and yes, EXPENSIVE, but a day in this sparkling city within the Principality of Monaco was truly enjoyable.
Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi for 700 years. According to our guide, they’re well-liked and accessible, and can be seen out and about Monte Carlo. The current ruler is Prince Albert II. The Palais Princier is their private residence, parts of which can be visited from April through October. Hundreds of spectators view the changing of the guard, which occurs hourly.
The Musee Oceanographique is home to more than 6,000 marine specimens. It has been widely recognized for its efforts to care for the world’s oceans for over a century. It’s an architectural masterpiece, seeming to emerge from the shore of the Mediterranean.
The Cathedrale de Monaco is the home church to the Grimaldi family. It has celebrated family weddings and funerals for decades, and is the final resting place for Princess Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier III, and other members of the royal family.
Created in 1984 in memory of Princess Grace, the Roseraie Princess Grace has over 10,000 rose bushes over ten acres. The statue at the entrance was donated by the Broere family “in appreciation and gratitude for the hospitality extended by the Principality of Monaco and for its noble and extraordinary endeavours to save the oceans.”
The Casino de Monte Carlo has the distinction of being the most visited site in all of Monaco. With its distinctive Belle Epoque architecture, it stands as a symbol of the opulent world of gambling and entertainment.
The Monaco Grand Prix brings thousands of Formula One fans to Monaco from all around the world. The Circuit de Monaco is a 2,074 mile street circuit laid out on the city streets of Monte Carlo, La Condamine, and the harbour. Temporary facilities take 250 workers six weeks to construct before the race and three weeks to deconstruct afterwards. Parts of the inside track remain available to visitors, and various permanent structures provide racing-related photo-ops along the circuit streets.
As a playground for the rich and famous, Monte Carlo offers many recreational opportunities such as beautiful public and private beaches, stylish shops, Michelin-star restaurants, and even a seaside carousel.
During our stay in Monte Carlo, the super-yacht Kismet was docked in the harbour. Valued at over $200 million, Kismet is owned by Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan. With 8 staterooms and a crew of 28, Kismet can be rented for $1.2 million per week PLUS the cost of food, fuel, and dockage. This yacht has been in several films and was rented by Jay-Z and Beyonce during a vacation in Italy. Needless to say, we’ll be happily staying with Viking for a while!