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Monaco - Living the high life in the Mediterranean

The playground for the rich and famous

In September 2013 I went on a 7 day Mediterranean cruise, stopping at Rome, Pisa, Florence and more; we decided to tag a couple of days on afterwards, stopping in La Seyne Sur-mer which is on the French southern coast. Looking at the surrounding costal destinations, neither of us fancied Saint Trope or Cannes, but Monaco appealed to my love of flash cars and Simon's love of Formula One – So we looked at train times beforehand and ventured into this famous principality. If you are into F1 or cars, or high end products and wealth then Monaco is a must; Even if your not into these things I would advise visiting if you have the time.

Transport

Monaco has great access by train along the southern coast of France; We caught the train from La Toulon with one change over at Cannes before arriving at Monaco – The journey took roughly 2 hours 30 and cost around 40 Euros for a return. The rail service in France was brilliant and we had no issues at all – The main thing to remember is to validate your ticket before getting on the train in one of the small Yellow (France) or Green (Italy) machines, otherwise you may be charged extra or denied your journey. To book our train tickets to Monaco we used Rail Europe, the site is easy to use and gives you a list of alternative times etc.

Map of Monaco

Monaco train station (Monaco Monte-Carlo) is in central Monaco and all underground – the entrance is near the harbor and the famous swimming pool that the F1 track goes around. To get around Monaco there really is no need to use any public transport – the principality is very small and everything is in walking distance – We walked around the various sights with ease; it was also enjoyable just to walk in the sun and admire such sights as the Yachts in the harbor and the striking architecture of the hotels and buildings lining the seafront.

Things to do/See

There is not a large list of specific sights to see in Monaco as there is with other European cities - Instead I would advise simply walking through this extraordinary place and exploring the different districts at your own pace. I will list a couple of my highlights below, however I would also advise to head into the Monaco-Ville district to see the Cathedral and the Palace - The Monaco-Ville district is full of old buildings from centuries ago and is a beautiful, picturesque part of the country.

Furthermore there is a myriad of gardens including the Jardin Exotique that has several thousand examples of rare plants from around the world. If you are not interested in sight-seeing, there is a dazzling variety of shops, bars, restaurants and cafe's to indulge at - Don't worry, not all of them are excruciatingly expensive!

Ferrari parked outside Monte Carlo Casino

Monte Carlo Casino - An iconic landmark of Monaco, the Monte Carlo casino was built in the 1800's by wealthy entrepreneurs with the backing of the prince and princess of Monaco. The casino is located at the top of the Avenue de Monte-Carlo in the Monte Carlo district of Monaco - approximately a 15 minute walk from the train station.

The building and facade are lavishly decorated in a Beaux Art style, with ornate sculptures and features, it literally oozes wealth. At any time parked outside, there will be some of the most beautiful (I love cars) cars on display - If you are an automobile fan you will love the Casino (Read my full article on supercar heaven here), and want to spend hours watching the wealthy class having their $$$ cars parked by chauffeurs. If you want to go inside the casino, be aware that there is a strict dress code and set fee's for using the gambling facilities.

Monaco F1 track - If you are an F1 fan you will appreciate this and understand the significance of the Monaco grand-prix; Seen as one of the most important and prestigious racing events of all time, the track is demanding and the location within the streets of Monaco give it a grand setting. We walked round most of the track layout including the tunnel, Grand Hotel hairpin and the straight past the swimming pool. It really was cool to do this, especially as the red & white chevrons are a permanent fixture; Imagining the cars hurtling past at break-neck speeds was something else.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Monaco; It was a refreshing change from the other sights and cities we had visited during our Mediterranean cruise. While there may not be a whole list of sights to see, Monaco has plenty to offer; with a range of café's and restaurants on the sea front, or the beautiful harbor with it's luxurious yachts, to the iconic Palace and Casino. For car or F1 lovers Monaco will be like a paradise, I would definitely like to visit again sometime, to spend more time supercar hunting or even during the F1 race weekend.

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I heart this place because

Initially I was skeptical about Monaco, but as soon as I got off the train into the lavishly decorated station I changed my mind. I don't aspire to live a life of luxury, but I could not help but be blown away by the style and decadence of Monaco – It truly is a playground for the rich and famous.

Dont miss out on

Monte Carlo Casino is a must – This famous landmark epitomizes the wealth and lifestyle of people living in Monaco. The building is spectacular, and if you are interested in cars, there is always some high end models parked outside – I was lucky enough to see a Bugatti Veyron and a Lamborghini Diablo!

Information and resources for Monaco - links will open in a new page

Monaco in Wikipedia

General information about the principality of Monaco and its history - Link

Rail Europe

Booking site for train tickets to Monaco from surrounding French and Italian cities - Link

Monte Carlo Casino

Official site for the worlds most famous casino - Link

Official F1 site

For F1 fans of course! - Link

Monaco F1 track layout

If your interested in walking around the Monaco F1 track! - Link

Photos taken using a Canon EOS-M with 18-55mm EF Lens

We had blissful weather in Monaco with little cloud cover - It was quite hot walking round and the lack of clouds gave me extremely vivid blue sky's. I was relatively pleased with the photos from Monaco, especially the cars outside the Casino, despite having to jostle crowds of men drooling over them (like myself :p). The only downside was the photos of the harbour - there happened to be a yacht show in preparation so there were loads of tents and rigging etc that obscured the harbour.

Monaco municipal swiming pool Ferrari 590 GTO and McLaren c12 Spider Monaco harbour with all the luxary yachts National flag of Monaco flys over the harbour Appartments and residential buildings adorn the hills surrounding Monaco Ferrari outside Monte Carlo Casino Front facade of Monte Carlo Casino Bugatti Veyron outside Monte Carlo Casino Bugatti Veyron outside Monte Carlo Casino Ferrari GTO 590 outside Monte Carlo Casino Ferrari GTO 590 outside Monte Carlo Casino Ferrari GTO 590 outside Monte Carlo Casino The decadent Monte Carlo Casino Famous chicane of the Monaco F1 track Coast line of Monaco Monaco Monte Carlo train station Sainte-Dévote Chapel Hermitage hotel Monte Carlo Me in Monte Carlo :)
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