Last weekend it was time again for the annual shopping trip with my bestie. For over 10 years now we have chosen a nice destination to go shopping, have nice food and take in some culture, but mostly for a good catch-up.
Like always, we had weeks of fun just in trying to decide on the right destination. This year, we found a fantastic offer for a daytrip to Monaco.
Taxi or Helicopter?
We flew Easyjet from Brussels to Nice. It takes about 40 minutes by taxi from there to Monaco. If you really want to be decadent, you can go by helicopter (7 minutes, 100€ pp). Or you can stay in Nice, which is a real nice place to stay, and make a daytrip to Monaco.
We stayed at Hotel Columbus, Our first impression of Monaco wasn’t great – it is extremely built-up and it feels really claustrophobic at times. The hotel is a real relief after that. It is situated in Fontvieille all the way on the outskirts of Monaco, and the front looks out over the Princess Grace Rose Garden.
Monaco by Bus
When we talked to Patrick, the concierge of the hotel, about getting a taxi, he immediately suggested we take a bus instead. A golden tip! The bus brings you through all of Monaco for 2 euro. In hindsight, you don’t actually need the bus either. There are public lifts that bring you from one plateau to the other (Monaco is built top of a rock).
Of course, the first stop was the Monte Carlo Casino. It was built in 1858 and lies on a bustling square flanked by Hotel de Paris and Café de Paris. If you enjoy paying astronomical prices for a drink, then that is the place to be. Perhaps rather choose one of the terraces a few streets over, as they charge normal prices.
Shopping in Monaco
Across from the casino lies “Les Pavillons de Monte-Carlo”. These egg-shaped buildings house all exclusive designers. Chanel, Gucci, YSL… Fun if you have a fat wallet, but also great for window shopping.
Around the corner lies the Metropole Shopping Center. Here, again, lots of expensive shops, but a visit is worth it if only for the beautiful interior.
Visit the streets near the Place d’Armes for more acceptable prices.
You would think you were in a different world in Monaco-Ville. Small, bustling streets, with inviting terraces and of course the compulsory souvenir shops. The Prince’s Palace is nearby. A fort was built here in 1191, but only a little bit of it is left. The rest has made way for a modern palace. I personally wasn’t too impressed with the change in style.
The palace is partially open to the public, and you can admire Napoleon’s sock and handkerchief in the museum. If you’re here around noon, be sure to catch the ‘changing of the guards’.
Monaco Cathedral is also certainly worth a visit. Princess Grace and Rainier III were married here, and are buried here too. As I am a succer for romance, this is a must during your daytrip to Monaco.
Racing in Monaco
Monaco is the Valhalla for car lovers. Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls Royce… it is as though they are free. You can view the private collection of oldtimers of Prince Albert .
Where to eat in Monaco?
If you stay away from the area around the casino, you can have a delicious meal in Monaco at normal prices. Marcello is an absolute must if you fancy some heavenly fresh pasta (22 bis, Rue Grimaldi) and Le tip top at the Av de Spelugues has fabulous burgers and salads.
If you want to escape the crowds for a while during your daytrip to Monaco, visit the Jardin Exotique. For 7.50 euro you can enjoy beautiful views over Monaco.
In short, Monaco is perfect for a 48 hours citytrip, or you can visit it for a day if you’re at the Côte d’Azur.
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