What to see in Monte Carlo, the cradle of luxury and entertainment
Known worldwide as the cradle of luxury and entertainment, the exclusive district of Monte Carlo is located along the French Riviera, a strip of coastline that connects Italy and France, in the heart of the Principality of Monaco.
This city-state, the smallest in the world after the Vatican City, is bathed by the Ligurian Sea and enjoys a mild and sunny climate even during winter, making it an accessible destination throughout the year.
Famous for the Formula 1 racing circuit and a coveted tourist destination for lovers of high society life, what has also made Monte Carlo an exclusive destination over time are the luxurious hotels that have hosted famous personalities and nobility from all over the world, such as the diva Grace Kelly, who became the Princess of Monaco.
What to See
Certainly, the Casino is the symbol of Monte Carlo, one of the main sources of wealth for the Principality. Built in the late 19th century in Baroque style, it was designed by the same architect as the Paris Opera, Charles Garnier. Inside, the palace is adorned with frescoes and sculptures that frame a golden and marble atrium.
The Monte Carlo Casino has become famous over time for roulette wins that have gone down in history, such as that of Joseph Jaggers in 1873, an English engineer who started with small bets and won 1.5 million francs after three days, or Charles Wells who won 1 million francs in 1891 and simultaneously broke several roulette tables, becoming an international celebrity mentioned in the song “The Man That Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.”
In addition to a casino, the complex includes Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, built in 1870 at the request of Prince Charles III with the intention of accompanying a gaming house with what is now one of the Principality’s main cultural institutions, reproducing in miniature the Paris Opera in Belle Époque style. Don’t miss the casino gardens, where flower beds, ponds, and terraces adorned with modern sculptures offer a moment of peace and tranquility.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is located in the center of the Principality. Consecrated in 1911, it houses the tombs of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco, as well as the altarpiece of St. Nicholas dating back to 1500 and the triptych of Santa Devota.
For those who want to learn about the history of the Principality, a visit to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, located on La Rocher, in the heart of the city, allows access to rooms that tell the story of this city-state, admiring furniture, frescoes, and portraits dating back to the 18th century.
Wandering through the narrow streets of the old town, not to be missed are Place Saint Nicolas, the Chapel of Mercy, and the Condamine area to see the morning herb market.
Finally, among the museums not to be missed, at the top of the list is the Oceanographic Museum with its 6,500 square meters of space and over 6,000 marine species, where you can observe sharks, Mediterranean and tropical fish. Inside, since 1989, a living coral reef has developed. The museum was inaugurated in 1910.
In addition to enjoying the more glamorous aspects of vacationing amid modern skyscrapers and high-end fashion boutiques, this city-state also offers the opportunity to relax by the sea, enjoying beaches full of exclusive facilities and services such as snorkeling, scuba diving, water scooters, and windsurfing.
Among the most enchanting beaches along the coast is Larvotto Beach, along Avenue Princesse Grace, extending for 400 meters and bordered by two coves, equipped to accommodate even people with disabilities.
For those looking for a small, intimate cove little known to tourists, one must explore the ‘Fishermen’s Cove’ or the ‘Solarium Beach,’ a small dam at the foot of Fort Antoine. The latter has been converted into a bathing area although it is not supervised, so it is advisable only for skilled swimmers due to its deep waters and lack of support points.
The Principality offers unique experiences within its 2 km² of territory. But it also hides a wide range of pleasant walks and excursions starting from Monaco, along the Mediterranean or overlooking it… ideal when the good weather returns!
Cap d’Ail Coastal Path | It is a waterfront gem just over 3 km long… this coastal path opens up after passing the port of Fontvieille with its prestigious buildings, the port of Cap d’Ail, and the Marquet beach. A seaside promenade in an environment as preserved as it is magnificent, where exotic trees, dream villas from the early 20th century, and geological and historical curiosities merge. The path follows the Mediterranean and then climbs towards the secret beach of Mala, with its huts against the cliffs. Here is what was once one of the most beautiful palaces on the French Riviera: the Eden Palace. Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill, and Sacha Guitry loved to descend to this beach during their trips to the Riviera.
Le Corbusier Trail (Tour of Cap Martin) | On the other side of the Principality, beyond the Monte-Carlo Beach hotel, Cap Martin reveals its wild coast with sea views and over the Principality. Together with Cap d’Antibes and Cap Ferrat, Cap Martin completes the trilogy of the great natural sites of the French Riviera and hosts some exceptional residences dating back to the late 19th century or the Belle Epoque. This coastal path passes not far from Villa Cyrnos, occupied in the early 20th century by Empress Eugenia, wife of Napoleon III. A short distance away, Le Corbusier, an icon of architecture, settled here. The coastal walk offers the opportunity to visit a unique architectural ensemble: Cap Moderne. Consisting in particular of Villa E-1027 and the “cabanon” built by Le Corbusier, a testament to his thinking on minimal habitat, the visit is definitely worth doing! Along the sea, you reach the other side of Cap-Martin, glimpsing Menton and Italy.
Tête de Chien via Cap d’Ail | The Principality is located on a network of Alpine hiking trails connecting eight countries, from Slovenia to Monaco, passing through Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and France. From Monaco, the trail starts from Palace Square, with an unparalleled view of the Principality. The trail offers a certain elevation gain to the village of La Turbie, passing through Cap d’Ail, and especially reveals breathtaking panoramas. At the top, at 550 meters above sea level, you can admire the landscape: to the east Monaco, Cap Martin, and Italy, i.e., three countries at a glance, and to the west Cap Ferrat and Cap d’Antibes.
Mont Agel Tour | A strategic point since ancient times, Mont Agel dominates the Principality, and its flat summit is used as a radar station by the French air force since 1953. This trek of almost 9 km starts after passing the splendid Monte-Carlo Golf Club and offers a unique glimpse of this prestigious place between sky and sea. The route continues by climbing the slopes of Mont Agel, between the Mercantour Alps to the north, the Préalpes d’Azur to the west, and the balconies of the Mediterranean to the east. On the way back, keep your eyes open! You can see… an elephant. The Fontbonne district is home to the pachyderm adopted by Princess Stéphanie, and the princely property of Rocagel, part of which was originally used as a radio station for the German army during the occupation, before the facilities were taken over by France and the Principality to create Radio Monte-Carlo.