The tiny Principality of Monaco is less than 2 square miles in size and the world’s second smallest country, after The Vatican. It is renowned as being a Mecca for the super-rich and glamorous, but with one of the most famous sporting events – the Monaco Grand Prix – plus shopping, film festivals, legendary restaurants and cultural highlights, the country’s reputation far exceeds its size and is the place to be seen during the summer months.
Not unlike the destination itself, the Principality of Monaco’s status is unique as although a sovereign state, it is not a member of the European Union – although it participates in the EU customs territory, so there are no border formalities when crossing from France to Monaco. The Euro is also used for its currency and whilst French is the official language, the traditional Monégasque dialect, which every child has to learn at school, is actually a mixture of French and Italian. Contrary to popular belief, Monaco is actually the country, whereas Monte Carlo is one small part within it and the famous Monte Carlo Casino is the main attraction, closely followed by the historic Grimaldi’s Royal Palace which is in the old town, also known as Le Rocher. Other cultural highlights include the opera and the ballet and a visit to the 19th Century Romanesque-Byzantine Cathedrale de Monaco is where Princess Grace was finally laid to rest.
Monaco’s Mediterranean climate means that there is never really a bad time to visit, however, with the peak months for tourist being in July and August, the streets and hotels are packed and the temperatures soar. In May, Monaco hosts the Grand Prix, so unless you are a fan of the F1, then this is again, a good time to avoid as you literally cannot move for people. In Spring and Autumn, the weather is still very good, so those wanting a bit more space to move will benefit from travelling at these times.
If shopping is more your thing, then Monaco is paradise – but be prepared as this is filled to the brim of designer boutiques. The best are is in the Cercle d’Or district (the Golden Circle) situated around the Place du Casino, with the likes of Chanel, Dior, Yves St-Laurent and Vuitton, plus Prada and Ferragamo, to name but a few.
In such a wealthy destination you can expect nothing less than gourmet cuisine from Michelin stars, Tables du Monde and cuisine from around the world – the highlight of the Monaco scene is the Louis XV, by Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris which was the first hotel restaurant to be awarded 3 prized Michelin Stars and which it still retains today, plus Joël Robuchon Monte Carlo at the Hotel Metropole which has 2 stars. In all Monaco has 5 restaurants which hold Michelin stars.
Tempted by what you’ve read? Need a few more ideas about where to go, what to see and how to go about it? Then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we’re always happy to chat through your “wish list” and help you formulate your dream holiday.