A Day in Montecarlo –
The day after I arrived in Nice was my birthday and, always eager to add another country to my list, we decided to spend the day in Montecarlo. Monaco is just a twenty minute train journey from Nice and a return ticket costs around 7 euros return at time of writing (2018). Montecarlo train station is located in the higher part of the city and so there is a great view of the Port of Monaco as soon as you step outside.
A day is plenty of time to see Montecarlo, particularly if you happen to be there on a rainy day like us. Here’s what we saw.
Museum of Oceanography
This was actually our main reason for visiting Montecarlo and it really is a must-see if you are ever in this part of the world. The main attraction of the Museum of Oceanography are its three aquariums: Mediterranean Sea, Tropical Sea and Shark Lagoon. With over 6000 different marine species, the variety and colours are amazing.
The rest of the museum includes artifacts from various explorations, including those of Prince Albert I and Jacques Costeau.
Afterwards go up to the roof for views over the harbour and some more quirky sculptures which you can find around the museum.
Cathedral of Monaco
The late Princess Grace of Monaco is ever present as you walk around Monaco. You can visit her tomb and that of her husband Prince Rainer III, in this very beautiful late nineteenth century cathedral.
Palais Princier de Monaco
Afterwards we walked around the grounds of the palace, but didn’t go inside. Instead, we took advantage of the fact that it was no longer raining to explore the surrounding winding streets. When the Prince is not at home, it is possible to visit inside the Palace. Summer concerts are organised on the palace grounds during July and August. See here for the 2018 schedule.
If you want to go inside one of the gaming rooms, you will need to ensure your outfit “meets the requirements of both elegance and tradition”. The Casino is open to groups and tours every morning from 9 – 12am, except during the Formula 1 Grand Prix. More information on admission fees and opening times are available on the Casino’s website. Otherwise, you can still admire this building from the outside and walk around Casino square where the Opera and Hotel de Paris are also located.
Gardens and parks
Montecarlo also has many parks and botantical gardens such as les Jardins St Martin or the Princess Grace Rose Garden. We didn’t go to any as the weather wasn’t great, but if you happen to be there on a sunnw day, I’m sure they’re worth checking out. For more information, see here for an overview.
And what about Tango?
I would have loved to add this as the twelfth country I have danced tango in, unfortunately there were no tango events going on in Monaco during the week I was in the area. I missed the annual tango festival by a couple of weeks…
TIP: taking the train along the Côte d’Azur
Be very careful that you are not buying a ticket with a reduction as the regular ticket inspectors are merciless. We saw a couple being fined 60 euros for having a ticket which was three euros less than the normal price. The ticket machines at Nice train station are only in French. If in doubt go and buy your ticket at the counter. If you are at the main entrance of Nice station, turn left, walk all the way down and go through the door to get to the ticket counters. The staff at the information desk close to the main entrance are unfortunately not very helpful. Alternatively, you can book online, or check the prices on the website of the French railway company, SNCF. A bus service also operates between Nice and Monaco which is slightly cheaper than the train.