Monaco

Capital Monaco
Currency euro (EUR)
Population 37,394 (2015)
Electricity 230V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code +377
Time zone UTC +1

The principality of Monaco or the city-state Monaco lies in 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 farther to the east.

Understand

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 four areas: Monaco-Ville (the old city), the Condamine (port quarter), Monte-Carlo (business and recreation), and Fontvieille (recreation and light industry). 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 businesses. 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.

Get in

Cathedral Notre-Dame-Immaculée

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.

By plane

The nearest airport is the Nice Côte-d'Azur International 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.

By helicopter

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 Monaco heliport, where a car service takes you directly to your hotel. Other than arriving by yacht, this is the best way for the international 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.

By train

Monaco-Monte Carlo is the principality's only railway station. It is operated by the French railway company SNCF. It is located about 300m back from Port Hercule. There is no 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.

Map of Monaco

By car

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 are also affordable.

By bus

There is no bus station in Monte Carlo. Instead, international buses stop at various points throughout the city. Regular buses, run by Rapide Cote D’Azur, connecting Monte Carlo 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 €1. An express shuttle, route 110, links the Nice Côte d'Azur Airoport and the principality. A bus leaves every half hour and a single ticket costs €18 (Jun 2009). €28.50 round-trip (Sep 2009) with stops near all major hotels throughout Monaco, not just Monte Carlo.

By boat

Monaco's two ports are no strangers to private yachts. Port Hercule 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 Port of Fontvieille, 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 small cruise ships can often be spotted sailing in or out of Port Hercule, while larger ones moor/anchor offshore. If offshore, tenders will shuttle passengers to/from shore using either port, with Port Hercule offering substantially better walking distances to the more popular sites.

In close proximity, the Port of Cap d'Ail is also a choice destination for pleasure-boats.

On foot

Sentier du bord de mer

A pleasant way to arrive in Monaco is to walk on the "  Sentier du bord de mer" (seaside trail), about a 45 minutes walk on a concrete path in a natural and peaceful setting. Take the train and stop at the Cap d'Ail train station (the latest before Monaco when coming from Nice; not all the trains stops 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 on the small road, walk a few meters on the left, 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 "  Sentier du bord de mer (Monaco-side)" 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.

Get around

The Port of Monaco

By foot

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 pedestrian-only ferry that runs each 20 minutes or so during daylight; it costs only €1.

By bus

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(2€) themselves or at many news vendors,shops throughout the city and at auto ticket machines in the 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 (7/2012) 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 16.

By bicycle

It is possible to hire a bicycle from the Auto-Moto-Garage on the Rue de Millo.

By car

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.

By taxi

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.

Talk

See also: French phrasebook

Languages: French (official), Italian and Monegasque.

See

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.

Guard at the Monaco Palace

Do

Monte Carlo Casino

Buy

Monaco uses the euro. It is one of several European countries that uses this common currency. All euro banknotes and coins are legal tender within all the countries.

Countries that have the euro as their official currency:

One euro is divided into 100 cents.

The official symbol for the euro is , and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

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:

Eat

Le Rocher, featuring the Palace of Monaco

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.

Budget

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.

Mid-range

Somewhere in between these two dining experiences comes the world-famous Café de Paris, just outside the Casino. Tourists and locals alike can often be found during the afternoon and all through the night laughing, drinking, and eating some fabulous (but verging on expensive) meals. It is definitely a must-go during your stay in Monte Carlo, even if it is just for a snack in the afternoon - it is well worth it. A new favorite in Monaco is Beefbar located in the Port of La Condamine, they serve excellent meat.

Splurge

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!

Drink

Sea anemones and clownfish in the Musée Océanographique

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

Sleep

Part of the Jardin Exotique

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.

Mid-range

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Splurge

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

Respect

In many ways,France#Respectㅣthe 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.

Stay safe

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.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, January 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.