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Port Of Call: Monte Carlo, Monaco

By: Ben Hall
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It’s the playground of the mega-rich and famous, and down at street level Monaco is refined and unpretentious and a joy to discover. It’s one of the most recognisable places in the world and first impressions is that it looks as though Manhattan or Hong Kong cruised past and tried to squeeze itself into the tiny 1.2 square kilometres that Monaco sits on right up against the Côte d’Azure. The Principality of Monaco is the second smallest independent state in the world (after the Vatican) and is the epitome of wealth and glamour. Ferraris, Maseratis and designer clothes and accessories are commonplace, as are multi-million dollar yachts manned by private staff. But the reality is that as long as you dress well, the local Monégasques are happy to share their city with visitors and are nowhere near as snooty or dismissive as you’d expect.

The Details


Language: French, but English is widely spoken.


Currency: Euro.


Docking/anchoring: The cruise terminal is located at Port Hercule in Monte Carlo, and the city is easily walkable from here. Other ships may anchor at busy times and use tenders to ferry guests ashore.


Transport: There are taxis available, and the local bus service is reliable and efficient.


Don’t Miss


The famous Casino is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Monte Carlo. There’s a cover charge to enter, and a strict dress code of jacket and tie is enforced for men, but the cost of entry is worth it just to marvel at the interior architecture which includes lavish marble and golden ornaments, stained glass windows, paintings and sculptures.

Every day at 11.55am, the Palais Princier (Prince’s Palace) in old Monaco-Ville enjoys a changing of the guard which provides a bit of colour and movement. West of Monte Carlo this is where the Royal Family resides and the magnificent building which sits on top of an area simply called The Rock.

The Musée Océanographique, which perches dramatically on the edge of a cliff right on the Mediterranean, is the first thing most people see from the ocean on arrival. The museum features a remarkable collection of sea life including seahorses, turtles, jellyfish, sharks, rays, lobsters, crabs, eels, urchins and sea animal skeletons. There’s also maritime objects such as model ships, tools and weapons used in warfare. In all there are more than 4,000 different fish and 200 families of invertebrates.

Best Photo Op


There’s a lookout near the Palais Princier which has sweeping views of the harbour and city skyline; this is also where they do the Changing of the Guard ceremony affording you the opportunity to tick two boxes on your “to see” list.




Goods are on the expensive side in Monte Carlo, but if you must indulge in some retail therapy a good place to start is the Monaco Town historic district; it’s a lovely place to wander, and where you’ll find some small souvenir shops. The Carréd’Or boutiques near the Casino feature some of the biggest names in fashion such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel along with some seriously expensive jewellery shops and antique shops.


Eating And Drinking


This is a tiny city packed with Michelin-starred venues. Enjoy the sumptuous decadence of restaurants such as the Louis XV restaurant at Hotel de Paris by Alain Ducasse to tiny back alley cafes in the Old Town serving simple coffee and croissants. The nearby Fontvieille Shopping Centre is a more practical shopping area and has some more modest eateries as well.




The most popular shore excursion is usually a half day tour that takes in Monaco Old Town, the Royal Palace and St Nicholas Cathedral and shows you all the key sights.


A tour to the nearby city of Nice includes a scenic drive through the French countryside with rolling hills and medieval villages such as St Paul de Vence. The day usually finishes in the capital of the French Riviera, Nice, with its famous harbour and waterfront.




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