The French Riviera has long been a luxury travel destination, it began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. The arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century made it the playground of British, Russian and other aristocrats.
This week I’ll be making my way along the coastline sampling some of the finest sights, sounds, eats and treats and sharing my journey as I go. We kicked off our trip in Monaco, staying at the luxury Fairmont Monte Carlo. Here’s a mini guide to a few fabulous things to see and do in Monaco:
Travel in style: If you arrive from Nice airport, a popular choice for travelling to Monaco is by helicopter which offers the chance to see the picturesque coastline from a birds-eye view. If you arrive at night, you could opt for a luxury limousine service in Nice or a coach service from the airport, which will drop you at the door of your hotel.
The Harbour: Once settled in Monaco head to the harbour. There are hundreds of luxury yachts and sailboats to marvel at. If you’ve learnt anything from Marilyn Monroe in ‘Some Like it Hot’ perhaps you’ll get invited onto a yacht to party, who knows what could happen?! Alternatively you could indulge in a luxury yacht cruise complete with private skipper.
The Rock of Monaco: The Rock of Monaco was the first conquest of the Grimaldi dynasty, the rulers of the country for more than 700 years. The Rock can be seen from the Harbour and reached via a short walk up the ancient steps. Although the Rock appears to be quite high from Harbour level, the walk up to the top is surprisingly easy and well worth it! As you reach the top you’ll pass through an ancient archway, see the stunning view over the harbour and be surrounded by incredible historical buildings including the Cathedral, Prince’s Palace and Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. There are loads of shops, bars and cafes nestled within the narrow crooked streets, surprisingly the cafes and restaurants on top of the Rock are very reasonably priced with dinner costing around 10Euro for a main course or traditional crepes for around 3Euros.
The Cathedral: Once on top of the Rock of Monaco you can stroll through the Old Town along the narrow, winding streets lined with shops, cafes and bars until you come to the Cathedral, also known as Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The cathedral was consecrated in 1875 and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252! As you walk through the Cathedral you can pay your respects to the Royals who have been laid to rest here, including Princess Grace. The Cathedral was made famous by the marriage ceremony of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III, here’s a clip of that World famous Royal wedding ceremony:
The Prince’s Palace of Monaco: Stood on top of the Rock and beautifully lit at night, it’s hard to believe the Palace is real and not a fantasy imagined by Walt Disney himself. The Prince’s Palace of Monaco is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco and just like in London you can watch the changing of the guards ceremony daily.Hotel de Paris: A 5 Star Luxury hotel dedicated to decadence, my kind of place! The Hotel de Paris has long been featured in Hollywood blockbuster movies including Iron Man and several James Bond films. The hotel is regularly listed on the annual Conde Nast Traveller Gold List. It has notable restaurants, including the Michelin 3-star Louis XV and Michelin-starred Le Grill. The interior is ornate, the floral displays in the lobby are out-of-this-World and there’s a fabulous selection of boutiques inside to shop or just browse.
Monte Carlo Casino: Opening the Monte Carlo Casino was a shrewd business decision by Princess Caroline briging in visitors and revenue to the Principality of Monaco. Inside the Casino is opulent to say the very least!! (sadly no cameras were allowed) As well as housing the Casino it includes the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, so is the perfect place for a night out. Outside the Casino you’ll see fleets of shiny sports cars, limousines and chauffeur driven mobiles such as Bentleys and Rolls Royces, sort of makes you feel like you’re living in a high-definifition, super glossy James Bond movie. Fabulous!
‘Wherever you go, go with all your heart.’ –Confucius