You will be astonished and surprised each step of the way around this town of Princes. From the Old Town, which can be described as a genuine open-air museum, to the Casino Square, unique in the world, you will discover the story of the Grimaldi family.
A modern town, Monaco has expanded its territory by claiming surface from the sea : do not miss out on a visit to the area of Fontvieille, emerged from the sea, where technologies meet the arts. To immerse yourself in the teeming atmosphere of the town, take a stroll around the traditional market of "La Condamine" or discover "Les Moneghetti" area.
There are 1,001 ways to discover the Principality
Taste the air blown from the Mediterranean, wander around the streets of the Principality and savour unforgettable hours.
Monaco-Ville, The Rock
Discover the Old Town and its narrow medieval streets leading to picturesque sites : "Place Saint Nicolas", "Placette Bosio", "Chapelle de la Miséricorde", "Palais de Justice" and the Cathedral, Romanesque-Byzantine building constructed in 1875.
Your steps will naturally guide you to the Palace Square where the Changing of the Guards takes place every day at 11.55 am sharp, right in front the Prince's Palace.
The Prince's Palace was originally built in the 13th century and was subsequently reshaped during the Renaissance. Protecting long-lived traditions, with its Italian-style gallery and 16th-century frescoes, the Prince's Palace unveils some of its treasures to the public : the Courtyard of Honour with its double staircase in Carrara marble built in the 17th century, the Hercules Gallery and its 16th-century fine frescoes leading to the "Salon Louis XV", harmoniously decorated in gold and blue and to the "Salon Mazarin" with polychrome wood panelling, the York Chamber and finally the Throne Room with its magnificent Renaissance fireplace. Length of the visit : 35 to 40 minutes. Tel : + 377 93 25 18 31.
Located in the south wing of the Prince's Palace, the Museum of Napoleonic Souvenirs and Collection of the Palace's Historic Archives contains a collection rich of more than a thousand objects and documents related to the First Empire : objects which belonged to the Emperor Napoleon I, garments belonging to the King of Rome, religious souvenirs from Sainte-Hélène, etc. The first floor is entirely dedicated to the history of the Principality. Length of the visit : 1 to 2 hours. Tel : + 377 93 25 18 31.
Further, on the Palace Square, admire a unique panoramic view while strolling towards the Saint-Martin Gardens. Landscaped in the 1830's, under Prince Honoré V, they surround the Oceanographic Museum, avenue Saint Martin, another architectural masterpiece of the Principality.
Inaugurated in 1910 by its founder, H.S.H. Prince Albert I, this renowned oceanographic institute was headed by Captain Cousteau for a long time. Dedicated to marine sciences, the museum houses the largest coral reef in the world : the brand new giant aquarium, unique in the world, with 400-cubic-metre of water, hammerhead sharks, majestic skates swimming in front of a coral reef inhabited by a multitude of tropical fish and living coral. Length of the visit for the Oceanographic Museum : 2 ½ to 3 hours. Tel : + 377 93 15 36 00.
In front of the Oceanographic Museum, avenue Saint Martin, hop on the "Azur Express" Tourist Trains. These small trains decorated in the national colours make daily journeys with commentary in French, English, Italian and German. During the trip, you will discover the harbour, the area of Monte-Carlo and its Palaces, the famous Casino and its gardens, before returning to the Old Town with its city walls and the Prince's Palace. Length of the trip : 30 minutes. Tel : + 377 92 05 64 38.
Situated near the Oceanographic Museum, on the terraces of the "Chemin des Pêcheurs" car park, Monte Carlo Story presents "Monaco Le Film". This multi-vision film retraces the origins, the history and the future of the Principality. Show every hour with simultaneous translation in 6 languages. Length of the show : 35 minutes. Tel : + 377 93 25 32 33.
Located on the rock, Place de la Visitation, the Museum of the Chapel of the Visitation is housed in a baroque-style chapel dating from the 17th century. It contains part of the remarkable collection of sacred works of art belonging to Mrs Piasecka Johnson, including some masterpieces by Rubens, Zurbaran, Ribera and several Italian masters of the Baroque period. Length of the visit : 30 minutes. Tel : + 377 93 50 07 00.
To be found at Number 27, rue Basse, in the Old Town, the Wax Museum of the Principality retraces the History of the Princes of Monaco. The museum depicts historical episodes of the story of the Grimaldi family from the late 13th century to the present day. The wax figures are life-size and many of them wear authentic period costumes. Length of the visit : 20 to 30 minutes. Tel : + 377 93 30 39 05. Length of the visit of the Old Town, excluding museums : approximately 2 hours. For children : playground in the Saint-Martin Gardens, located towards the Prince's Palace.
Monte Carlo, the Casino
As you arrive on the Casino Square, the sighting of this masterpiece by renowned architect Charles Garnier will take your breath away ! Built in 1863, the Casino was designed around an atrium surrounded by 28 columns in onyx; behind, the "Salle Garnier", Italian-style theatre decorated in red and gold, is the exact miniature replica of the Opera in Paris. Every season, the most magnificent lyric performances are staged here. Further along, the gaming rooms are wonderfully decorated with stained-glass windows, sculptures and unique allegorical paintings. Length of the visit of the Casino : 35 to 40 minutes. Tel : + 377 92 16 23 00.
Do not hesitate to go window shopping around the Casino Square and its famous Golden Circle of luxury boutiques : jewellers, designers' clothes, antiques, etc.
Spend time exploring the Casino Gardens and Terraces with their magnificent flowerbeds and dazzling scented plants; overlooking the sea, the terraces are immersed in sunshine and entice you away from the crowds.
Follow a path down to the sea, towards the Grimaldi Forum, high-tech conference and exhibition centre, and you will come upon the National Museum, Automatons and Dolls of Yesteryear and the Japanese Garden.
The National Museum, Automatons and Dolls of Yesteryear, 7 avenue Princesse Grace, unveils the fascinating world of automatons and dolls in period costumes presented with miniature pieces of furniture and everyday items, thus recreating the sophisticated atmosphere of the 19th century. This is just what Madeleine De Galéa had in mind when she put this collection together. Completed by a remarkable Neapolitan crib, this marvellous collection is housed in a splendid villa with campaniles built by Charles Garnier. Length of the visit : 1 hour. Tel : + 377 93 30 91 26.
Located on the avenue Princesse Grace, the Japanese Garden is free of charge and open to the public from 9.00 am to sunset. This enchanting garden, designed by the landscape architect Yasuo Beppu, covers 7,000 square metres right by the Mediterranean. An authentic work of art, it unites stones, water and plants in the most marvellous harmony. This exceptional meadow situated at the foot of the town has a very special atmosphere, which is accentuated by the use of water sprays on the azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias.
Length of the visit of Monte Carlo, excluding museums : 1 hour. For children : Trocadéro Gardens, Place des Moulins and merry-go-round on the Larvotto Esplanade.
Fontvieille, high-tech district
The whole district of Fontvieille was reclaimed from the sea; the Principality made use of modern technologies to expand and in return, Monaco has chosen to welcome high-tech and non-polluting industries on this new territory.
Here, the Louis II Stadium was inaugurated in 1985. A popular venue for top-level international competitions, its multi-purpose facilities include a football pitch with 16,000 seats encircled by an athletics track, a multi-sports room with 3,000 seats and a fresh water Olympic-size heated swimming pool, making it one of the finest sports structures in the world. Length of the visit : 45 minutes to 1 hour. Tel : + 377 92 05 40 11.
In Fontvieille, embark on the Sculpture Trail and discover monumental works by Arman, Blake, Botero, Calder, and César… Over 100 works by contemporary artists are exhibited alongside works by sculptors established in Monaco. Do not miss the heart-shaped Rose Garden, dedicated to Princess Grace where you will be able to admire approximately 180 varieties and 4,000 fragrant rose bushes. Length of the tour : 2 hours
Walking back towards the Rainier III Esplanade, you will come across 4 museums or sites to familiarise yourself further with the Principality. The Exhibition of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco's Private Collection of Classic Cars will delight anyone with a passion for cars. Over one hundred cars of all ages and produced by great European and American firms can be admired, together with six coaches. From the 1903 De Dion Bouton to the 1986 Lamborghini Countach, as well as the 1929 Bugatti, the Torpedo Citroën from the "Croisière Jaune" and the 1952 Rolls Royce, each of these glittering automobiles is perfectly maintained and together they tell the story of motoring industry over the 20th century. Length of the visit : 1 hour. Tel : + 377 92 05 28 56.
Also on the Rainier III Esplanade, the Museum of Stamps and Coins opened its doors to the public in 1996 to flaunt the magnificent private collection of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III. Length of the visit : 45 minutes. Tel : + 377 93 15 41 50.
The Naval Museum presents some 180 superb scale models of famous sea vessels, including some ancient pieces coming from H.S.H. Prince Rainier's private collection. The models of great transatlantic liners, such as the "Titanic" and the "Normandie" are exhibited alongside exploration ships including Captain Charcot's "Pourquoi Pas", Captain Cousteau's "Calypso" and "Alcyon", and Dr Jean-Louis Etienne's "Antartica". Length of the visit : 45 minutes. Tel : + 377 92 05 28 48.
Set out for a tropical journey and visit the Zoological Terraces. Numerous species of tropical and African animals (black panther, white tiger, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, reptiles, exotic birds, etc) benefit here from exemplary living conditions. Length of the visit : 1 ½ to 2 hours. Tel : + 377 93 25 18 31.
In Fontvieille, visitors will be amazed by the blue immensity of the Mediterranean viewed from the sky. Embark on an unforgettable helicopter trip over the Principality of Monaco and its surroundings and discover the extraordinary panorama of the French Riviera, seen from surprisingly exciting heights. To experience this truly exhilarating and privileged feeling, in complete safety, contact one of the local helicopter companies based at the Monaco Heliport, avenue des Ligures. Open 7 days a week, choose between Héli Air Monaco, Tel : + 377 92 050 050, or Monacair, Tel : + 377 97 97 39 00. Length of a panoramic flight : 10 minutes, or more.
Length of the tour of Fontvieille, excluding museums and Sculpture Trail : 1 hour. For children : playground by the Princess Grace Rose Garden and merry-go-round near the Fontvieille Big Top.
From "La Condamine" to "Les Moneghetti", the heart of Monaco
To appreciate Monegasque traditions, visit the local market in "La Condamine". Every morning, this large esplanade located in the heart of town wakes up to the colours and smells of the fruit and vegetables stalls. Arcades where it is possible to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat while reading the newspaper in the shade surround the market. Opposite, you will be able to admire the staircase "Rampe Major" and its two gates dating from the 16th century and leading to the Rock.
Nearby, the pedestrian area of the "Rue Princesse Caroline", dotted with pleasant landscaped gardens and attractive boutiques, gently slopes down towards the sea. On the harbour "Port Hercule", it is possible to take a boat trip and discover the seabed. A 55-minute journey on board a catamaran equipped with two windows in the hull for underwater vision will take you around the Bay of Monaco. Tel : + 377 92 16 15 15. Wander on the harbour and enjoy a drink in the sun in one of the several bars located on the seafront.
Then, head for "Les Moneghetti", where you will discover, among private villas from the early 20th century, the "Parc Princesse Antoinette". Tucked away amidst 100-year-old olive trees, it offers many facilities for children including a pitch-and-putt (closed in September).
Just before the French border, you will find the Exotic Garden. Inaugurated in 1933, it contains remarkable species of cactacea from Africa and South America, including aloe plants from Cape Town and giant agaves from Aztec regions. Over 7,000 varieties of plants flourish in this ideal climate. Length of the visit : 2 hours. Tel : + 377 93 30 33 65.
Within the Exotic Garden, 60 metres under ground, visitors can discover the immense chambers of the prehistoric Observatory Caves, where unexpected stalagmites, stalactites and limestone concretions are admirably illuminated ! Length of the visit : 1 ½ hour. Tel : + 377 93 15 29 80.
Also located on the boulevard du Jardin Exotique, the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology takes you back in history. Containing a series of priceless tombs originating from around the Principality, notably Grimaldi, in Italian Liguria, this museum was founded in 1902 by Prince Albert I. Its exhibits retrace the most important stages in the history of the human race, from Australanthropus to Pithecanthropus and to Homo Sapiens fossils. Length of the visit : 30 minutes. Tel : + 377 93 15 80 06.
The Principality of Monaco is a favourite starting point for enchanting escapades to the backcountry, towards the French or the Italian Riviera. Following the hilltop roads - corniches - one quickly reaches the old village of Eze, standing high on its spectacular rocky peak: La Turbie and its Trophy of the Alps, a monument more than two thousand years old! Roquebrune-Village, formerly part of the Monegasque territory, with its Xth century Carolingian Castle…
Each stopping place has its share of interesting sights: Jean Cocteau's Museum at Menton; the Greek Kerylos Villa at Beaulieu-sur-mer; Saint-Elme Citadel at Villefranche-sur-mer; the Ephrussi de Rothschild Museum at Cap-Ferrat: Chagall and Matisse museums and the famous Flower Market in Nice; the Fondation Maeght museum at Saint-Paul-de-Vence; Vauban Ramparts and the Marineland show at Antibes; the glassworks of Biot and the ceramics workshops of Vallauris; the Villa Fragonard and the perfumeries of Grasse…
If you have a day to spare for discovering the Principality's surroundings, we recommend four sightseeing tours that will let you discover architectural treasures and marvellous natural sites without having to drive too many kilometres.
The world’s smallest country after the Vatican, with an area of only 1.95 square kilometers, 22 hectares of which were obtained from the sea with the Fontvieille platform.
The country faces the Mediterranean, surrounded by France on all other sides, and is only 20 km from the Italian border.
Government: Prince Rainier III heads the country
Languages spoken: French
Principal industries: casinos, tourism, Grand Prix de Monaco, chemical sales and laboratories
Agriculture: dependent on France
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