Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Monte-Carlo "City of Hollywood Celebrities with legendary Casino, luxury hotels, elegant nightclubs and Restaurants"
Monte-Carlo, unofficial capital of glamorous and lavish Monaco, is surprisingly unattractive and is embellished more by its citizens and visitors than its own attractions. The capital is a blend of ugly high rise buildings and windy roads, but does boast the legendary Casino, luxury hotels, elegant nightclubs and restaurants, views of the sparkling Mediterranean and of course, the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Established in 1866, Monte-Carlo was named in honour of Prince Charles III and is the richest of the country's four quarters. For years, Monte-Carlo has been the playground of the rich and famous, from Hollywood starlets to royalty, and business people dodging the taxman. It is also one of Europe's foremost holiday resorts, but certainly not for the humble backpacker. The city has several attractions, such as the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, the Monaco Cathedral and the Prince's Palace, several gardens, and other attractions centred on the country's famous Royal Family, such as an exhibition of HSH Prince of Monaco's Private Collection of Classic Cars.
There are some interesting diversions, such as catamaran trips, watersports, yachting and the Azur Express tourist train that links up the city's attractions accompanied by multi-lingual commentary. Worth exploring is the Old Town, with its attractive City Hall, and of course when one is bored of sightseeing, the best diversion (and the cheapest) is merely to settle down with a fancy cocktail and people-watch.
Take a walk through Monaco-Ville, also known as “le rocher” or “the rock.” Monaco-Ville is still a medieval village at heart and an astonishingly picturesque site. It is made up almost entirely of pedestrian streets and passageways and most previous century houses still remain. There a number of hotels, restaurant and souvenir shops tourists can stay, eat and shop at. You can also visit the Prince's Palace, the Cathedral, the Oceanographic Museum, the City Hall, and the Saint Martin Gardens.
Palais du Prince
Established in the 13th century, Monaco's royal palace has been the residence of the ruling Grimaldi family ever since. The most famous resident was Grace Kelly, who was married to Prince Rainier III. Every generation has left their mark on the place, and as a result this is not one of Europe's most elegant castles from the outside. It is worth taking a look inside though; 15 rooms, including the Throne Room, are open to the public. In the south wing of the palace is the Musée des Souvenirs Napoléoniens, which contains a collection of Napoleon's memorabilia. The changing of the guard takes place in front of the palace every day, lasting just two minutes, so take care to be on time.
Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium
Monaco's Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium was opened by Prince Albert I in 1910 and houses his personal collection of marine life, models of the Prince's laboratory ships and other crafts made from marine products. The imposing building is perched dramatically on a cliff and faces the sea, providing lovely views. The basement houses an impressive aquarium with over 4,000 fish species and 200 invertebrates, as well as the Shark Lagoon.
The Monaco Cathedral is a beautiful structure that was built in 1875 and rests on a site of a 13th-century church that was dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The Cathedral houses the tombs of the much-loved Princess Grace, as well as the former Princes of Monaco. During religious festivals and religious holidays, the sounds of the Cathedral's splendid four-keyboard organ can be enjoyed, as well as the Sunday mass, which is sung by the Cathedral Choir.
The opulent and world-renowned Monte-Carlo Casino was built in 1878 by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera House. The Salle Garnier hosts ballet, opera and concerts, while the Gaming Rooms are filled with all the glitz and glamour one would expect from a top-class casino. The rooms sport stained glass windows, sculptures, and of course, the rich and famous. Jacket and tie are required for men.
Formula 1 Grand Prix
Monaco's streets hosts the best known Formula 1 Grand Prix. It is also one of Europe's premier social highlights of the year. The Automobile Club of Monaco organizes this spectacular Formula 1 race each year. The Grand Prix is 77 laps around 263-kilometers of Monte Carlo's narrowest and twisted streets. The main attraction of the Monaco Grand Prix is the proximity of the speeding Formula One cars to the race spectators. The thrill of screaming engines, smoking tires and determined drivers also makes the Monaco Grand Prix one of the most exciting races in the world. There are more than 3,000 seats available for sale on the circuit ranging from 90€ to more than 500€. Monaco residents often rent out their terraces for the event with prices ranging from 8000€ to 140,000€ for the four days. During the off season, it is possible to walk around the circuit. Tourist office maps have the route clearly marked on their maps, although devotees won't need them! For those who can afford it, you can also take a ride around the track in a performance car.
Fun tourist trains make daily tours all over Monaco. You will visit the Monaco Port, Monte-Carlo and its Palaces, the famous Casino and its gardens, the Old Town for City Hall and finally the royal Prince’s Palace. Commentaries are in English, Italian, German and French. This enjoyable tour runs about 30 minutes long and cost is 6€, children under age 5 ride free.
Discover Monaco from the sea during this fascinating boat tour! “Aquavision” is a catamaran-type boat equipped with two windows in the hull for underwater vision, thus allowing the passengers to explore the natural seabed of the coast in an unusual way. The boat can take up to 120 people per journey. Cost for adults are 11€, while the cost for children and for children and students ages 3-18 are 8€.
The Jardin Exotique
The Jardin Exotique (Exotic Gardens) is one of the many gardens Monaco has to offer. It is also one of Monaco’s finest tourist attractions. Several thousand rare plants from around the world are presented in a walking tour that is quite memorable for the views as well as the flora and plants. Due to the rise in altitude, not only are there many displays of desert plants but there are a handful of subtropical flora displays as well. There is also a grotto (cave) that has scheduled guided tours. The entry cost is a bit steep (€8) unless you're under 16 or a student (€3.50).
La Condamine is the second oldest district in Monaco, after Monaco-Ville. Here you can stop and marvel at the many luxurious yachts and cruise ships which usually adorn the docks in the marina. La Condamine is a thriving business district where you can visit the Condamine Market and rue Princesse-Caroline mall. With enjoyable landscaped areas and modern buildings, La Condamine is surely worth a visit.
The Monaco Opera House or Salle Garnier was built by the famous architect Charles Garnier. The auditorium of the opera house is decorated in red and gold and has frescoes and sculptures all around the auditorium. Looking up to the ceiling of the auditorium, the visitor will be blown away by the superb paintings. The opera house is flamboyant but at the same time very beautiful. There have been some of the most superior international performances of ballet, opera and concerts held in the opera house for more than a century; consider taking in a show during your visit... but expect to pay top dollar!
The Marlborough Fine Arts Gallery
The Marlborough Fine Arts Gallery was founded in London by Frank Lloyd and Harry Fischer. A second gallery was opened in Rome, another in New York, and one more in Monaco. The gallery holds a grand collection of post-World War II artists and even paintings by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Jules Brassai, Louise Bourgeois, Dale Chihuly, David Hockney and Henri Matisse. Admission is free and the gallery also offers group exhibitions.
The Grimaldi Forum
The Grimaldi Forum is the Monaco convention center. Completed in July 2000, the sun filled building on the sea has a remarkable glass entrance, two convention restaurants, an auditorium for ballet and opera, and two more auditoriums for meetings and other affairs. The Forum also offers two large exhibition halls that can be used for trade shows or other exhibitions. It is also a short walking distance from surrounding hotels.
Built at the turn of the century, the Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo Monaco today is the most beautiful example of the art of living in the style of the "Belle Epoque." For those who frequent it, this charming luxury hotel, which has been granted the status of a historical monument, is a favorite above all others. Cultivating a refined atmosphere, a flavor of familiar intimacy, gentle harmony where the soul of an era meets the needs of today, the Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo Monaco gives you a new outlook on Monte-Carlo and on life.
Relaxation, the art of true living, an unmistakable sophistication - such is the spirit of the Belle Epoque which brings the Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo Monaco to life. A century later, the same spirit is still intact in the Eiffel Hall, the salons, the guest rooms, each with an individual, intimate atmosphere where discrete luxury joins with classic pleasure from times pasts.
Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo Monaco cultivates a refined atmosphere, a flavor of familiar intimacy, gentle harmony where the soul of an era meets the needs of today. It gives you a new outlook on Monte Carlo and on life. The Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo Monaco is the ideal place to lend your stay a sense of well-being and refinement with its direct access to the Thermes Marins de Monte Carlo.
Fairmont Monte Carlo hotel
The Fairmont Monte Carlo hotel is a unique luxury resort located in the heart of the Principality of Monaco in between the Mediterranean Sea and the legendary Casino of Monte Carlo. With its spectacular views the hotel reflects the elegance and sophistication that has dubbed Monte-Carlo the year-round International playground for the elite. Boasting luxury bedrooms and suites, the Fairmont Monte Carlo offers free access to a top floor heated swimming pool and a Willow Stream fitness. A Willow Stream Spa, 2 Restaurants, L'Argentin Grill and L'Horizon, A Bar Le Saphir, Exclusive boutiques and a Casino.
Hôtel de Paris
A few exceptional luxury hotels one day cease to be an address and become a legend. The Hôtel de Paris Monaco is one of them. Built in 1864 with the ambition to offer the best of an era, the Hôtel de Paris continues to symbolize this same excellence in the art of hospitality.
A night at the Hôtel de Paris is an unforgettable experience, a few hours of the pure magic of your dreams, blended with absolute comfort, luxury down to the smallest details, perfect service and that inexplicable flavor of the extraordinary that makes the Hôtel de Paris of Monte-Carlo a place like no other in the world.
Why is a night spent at the Hotel de Paris Monaco like no other? Is it the extraordinary comfort offered by each of its 191 rooms, 28 Junior Suites, 43 Suites and one Presidential Suite. The exceptional quality of its location places its guests in the best position to enjoy Monegasque life and the unforgettable sunrise over the sea? All this would mean nothing if it weren't for one essential element, invisible to the eye: the authentic spirit of the hotel, which makes it a living entity.
More than faithful to the noble tradition of prestigious hospitality, the services offered daily on all floors and the close attention paid to the smallest details underline the personalized welcome offered to each guest. They must satisfy the highest of requirements: that of being worthy of an authentic legend.
Columbus Hotel Monaco
"Created by award winning interior designer Amanda Rosa, the Riviera Chic style of the Hotel teatures in all 153 bedrooms and 28 suites, all fully equipped with an interactive TV system with infrared cordless computer keyboard, dual phone lines with direct modem access, CD stereo system and Playstation, mini bar stocked with premium brand minatures and snacks, hairdryer, personal safe, iron and ironing board and air-conditioning. Bathrooms feature power showers, large baths and toiletries created exclusively for Columbus Monaco. Adjacent to the lobby, the heart and soul of the hotel, the foxy bar and the trendy brasserie have already become two of the coolest drinking and dining spots on the Cote dAzur. The Columbus Boutique provides great gift ideas, international press and items used to decorate the contemporary bedrooms. Other facilities include Le Studio, a state of the art 90 seat auditorium, two private rooms, an ultra high-tech fitness centre and access to the art deco outdoor pool. A Hotel conceptualised by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, ideal for those who value the combination of stylish and relaxed surroundings with discreet and effecient service. Utell Superior Selection - Offers the traveller quality rooms and facilities making their stay, whether business or leisure, relaxing and comfortable."
Le Méridien Monte Carlo has a contemporary atmosphere and a unique location in The Principality of Monaco and the French Riviera. Ideally located within walking distance of Monaco's renowned tourist attractions, Le Meridien Monte Carlo offers limitless possibilities for discovery within its spacious private terraces, pools, facilities and is the only Monte Carlo hotel with a private beach.
The Hotel Metropole, located just steps away from Casino square, was recently intensively refurbished by the renowned French designer Jacques Garcia with a fresh Mediterranean décor, combining classic elegance with modern touches. Ideal accommodations, for leisure guests or business, with king-sized bedrooms and suites, many with terraces. Hotel Métropole is today an exclusive urban destination spa in the heart of the vibrantly chic Monte-Carlo.
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. Taxis can be hailed on the streets 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 courtesy drivers to points of interest, such as the Palace and casino.
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!
It is possible to hire a bicycle from the Auto-Moto-Garage on the Rue de Millo.
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.
If you don't mind feeling like a member of the working class in Monaco's bourgeois opulence, Monte Carlo operates a bus service, 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. Many stops also have the routes for each bus that stops there. 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 themselves or at many news vendors and shops throughout the city - often it will be advertised as to where you can do this. A daily pass allows you to use the buses all day for €3 (9/2009) and can also be purchased onboard the bus. A recent innovation is a night (soiree) bus service that runs in a circular route from 22.00 until 04.00.
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 one Euro.