Monaco – The smallest monarchy in the world
The small principality is known for its beautiful location on the Mediterranean Sea, gambling and motor sports – and not only among the rich and beautiful.
But that is by far not all that the microstate with just over two square kilometers has to offer.
If you want to know what else there is to discover, you should definitely read on.
We would like to take you on a little tour of the principality.
Monaco is considered a city of the rich and famous. A look at the many yachts in the harbor or the expensive sports cars in front of the „Casino de Monte-Carlo“ confirm this impressively. The atmosphere in the city is extraordinary, especially when it gets dark. Although the principality is so small, it even has its own language: Monegasque. However, it is only used as everyday language. The official language in Monaco is French, but it is not difficult to communicate even without language skills. Due to the internationality of the residents – only about a quarter of the population are also citizens of Monaco – English is a common language and simplifies communication immensely. There is a lot more to discover than the images that spring to mind when you think of Monaco. We want to take you on a tour of the small principality. Following the Grand Prix course of the Curcuit de Monaco, we start at the start area of the Formula One course in the La Condamine district.
La Condamine is probably the epitome of what comes to mind when you think of Monaco. The municipality is located around the Port Hercule harbor with space for around 700 yachts. The harbour takes its name from the ancient prehistory of Monaco, because already the Greeks and later the Romans recognized the good location and the sheltered harbor as the perfect place for a trading post on the southern coast of France. La Condamine is also home to the start-finish area and the pit lane, which is specially set up there before each race, of the Circuit de Monaco, where the Monaco Grand Prix takes place every year. The street circuit extends over a length of 3.337 km and runs exclusively on otherwise public roads. The Stade Nautique Rainier III swimming pool and the square in front of it will be converted into a grandstand for this purpose.
In La Condamine and Les Moneghetti you can also find a wide range of bars and restaurants. But although in Monaco and the small principality has the reputation of being only for the rich and beautiful, we can soothe you at this point. You don’t need a big bank account to order a cocktail or fall into ruin after a small dinner. The prices are surprisingly moderate considering its reputation. Les Moneghetti and Jardin Exotique are the residential areas of the „normal“ Monegasque, and most of the offices and workplaces are in these areas. Every citizen has the right to an apartment in the small principality and is therefore preferred to all millionaires who would like to live there. The government is doing a lot to make this possible. In general, the prices in restaurants or supermarkets can be compared with those in France.
The Monaco train station is also located in Les Moneghetti. From there it is only a few minutes‘ walk to all major sights.
The Jardin Exotique de Monaco, which gave the district its name, is home to a large selection of cacti and other tropical plants. On curved paths through the park you have a wonderful view of the harbor and the Prince’s Palace. If you don’t want to cope with the ascent yourself, you can also use the public lifts and enjoy the breathtaking view without any effort. Under the Jardin Exotique there is an underground cavity at 100 meters above sea level that almost reaches sea level. About 300 steps lead down into a world of stalagmites and stalactites. The tour of the cave is included in the ticket price to the Jardin Exotique, takes about 30 minutes and rounds off the Monaco experience. Because who would suspect a stalactite cave in the small principality?
Ravin de Sainte-Dévote
By far the smallest district of Monaco is Ravin de Saint-Dévote with only 0.0235 km². It is named after a small gorge which explains the small dimensions of only 300 meters in length and a maximum of 100 meters in width. The level is a few meters below that of the surrounding area, so the district is very thinly built on. The 11th century church of Saint-Dévote stands in the gorge. It is cooped up in the narrow gorge „Vallon des Gaumates“ and was partly built directly on the rock walls. It also gives its name to the first corner of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. After this first right-hand bend, the route goes uphill to Beau Rivage. Due to its unique location, the church is a popular photo opportunity.
There are no roads through the district, but the gorge is crossed by several bridges. One of them, the bridge of the Boulevard du Larvotto, will be converted into a grandstand for Formula 1 races.
When you think of Monaco, you inevitably think of Monte-Carlo. Be it because of the gambling or the Monte Carlo Rally. The famous casino, the Hotel de Paris and the slowest hairpin in Formula 1 are located in this district.
Monte-Carlo, next to the old town of Monaco-Ville, can be described as the tourist center. Not only is the Monacos tourist office located there, this is also a great place to go shopping – provided you have the financial means. The noblest shops line up here.
Those who prefer to enjoy nature in the middle of the city can do so in the Jardins de la Petite Afrique. Here, with free admission, you can admire a subtropical flora in the middle of the canyon of houses.
Even if Larvotto is a long walk from the Prince’s Palace, you should definitely visit the Japanese Garden there. There are three large gardens in the principality: The Jardin Exotique, the Jardins de la Petite Afrique and the Jardin Japonais de Monaco. Whereby „large“ is to be set in relation to the size of the country.
The Champions Promenade leads directly past the Japanese Garden. In addition to a beautiful view of the sea, some of the greatest footballers have immortalized themselves here with their footprints. Who wouldn’t want to follow in the footsteps of Pelé, Maradonna or Ronaldinho?
Larvotto is also home to the country’s only beach. So if you are looking to cool off after a long walk through the city, this is the right place for you. With the Grimaldi Forum and the new National Museum of Monaco, culture is also represented in Larvotto.
Anyone who follows the Formula 1 course like us to explore the small principality has to take the Larvotto tunnel from Larvotto. Don’t be irritated by the first impression, the walk is not as bad as it seems at first.
At the other end, the Port Hercule greets you and you have arrived back in La Condamine.
Following the harbor basin you come to the famous Rascasse curve with the bar of the same name. Here you are free to choose which route you want to take to get to the Prince’s Palace. You can either follow the sea further and take the elevator of the parking garage Chemin des Pêcheurs and arrive at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco on the mountain, or you can choose the curved road Rampe de la Major to get directly to the Prince’s Palace. Between the Oceanographic Museum and the Prince’s Palace, you can slip into the narrow streets of the old town of Monaco. On the way you will not only find cafes and bars that invite you to linger, but also some ministries and embassies. But who goes to Monaco to visit the local Ministry of Education? It is much more likely to visit the Notre-Dame-Immaculée cathedral, which, by the way, is located right next to the Ministry of Justice. This impresses not only with its architecture, but is also the final resting place of the Grimaldis, the family that has ruled Monaco for over 700 years (with small interruptions). But did you also know that this is not the only territory of the Grimaldis and that, for example, they also have properties in France – such as Les Baux-de-Provence?
If you look west from the terrace of the Prince’s Palace, the port of Fontvieille extends in front of you in the district of the same name. This not only houses the AS Monaco and the associated Stade Louis II, but also the Jardin Animalier de Monaco, Monaco’s zoo, and the Monegasque car museum „Collection de Voitures Anciennes de S.A.S.“.
There you will also find the Maritime Museum and the Heliport de Monaco of Heli Air Monaco, if you have to catch your plane quickly at the airport in Nice (approx. 15 km away) or if you just want to go skiing in winter.
Please click on one of the icons to learn more about it.
If you want to come to Monaco, you have to decide whether you want to come by bus, train, or, like us, by car. However, since Monaco is a very densely built-up city, you have no choice but to park yourself in one of the many parking garages. These are even surprisingly cheap and the parking spaces are wide enough for every car. We recommend the Chemin des Pêcheurs car park. This is very well located in the Monaco-Ville district and offers a very good starting point for your journey of discovery through the small principality. However, entry with a caravan is not permitted.
Monaco is not a member of the EU. Nevertheless, EU citizens can enter the small country without passport control. A passport or ID card should still be carried.
The same import and export restrictions apply as in France. Although the principality is not part of the EU community, it still uses the euro as its currency. It even has its own coins, which are diverted from France’s coin quota.
Here is a tip for coin collectors! It is possible to buy the coins in the souvenir shops. But that’s not necessary if you go to a local supermarket and buy something there. Small coins, such as the 1 cent coin, will probably not be included, as these were only minted in very small numbers, but the larger coins such as the 50 cent, 1 Euro or 2 Euro coin should be used every now and then be found with change.
Driving into Monaco with a caravan is not allowed due to the size and dense development of the small country.
Usually we give you the speed limit for each country staggered. This is not necessary in Monaco, as the country actually only consists of a single densely built-up city and consequently only one speed limit applies:
– in town: maximum 50 km/h
Of course, there are also traffic signs in Monaco that limit the speed to less than 50 km / h. Please also observe these very carefully, as the fine could be a little higher than you could be used to.
Furthermore, it is compulsory to bring a safety vest and a warning triangle.
Even if it should actually be a matter of course not to drive a vehicle while drunk, there is a blood alcohol limit of 0.5 per mille in Monaco.