If you’re hoping to take a trip where you can dress up, and generally feel like a princess — go to Monte Carlo!
You can stay in a hotel designed by the architect of the Eiffel Tower, play poker in the same casino as James Bond, and walk through the same streets as Princess Grace once did!
There’s hardly a single corner of the city that isn’t a dramatic backdrop for an unreal picture!
(Seriously, look at my pictures at the bottom! All taken with an iPhone, no less!)
Monte Carlo is characterized by historic buildings with timeless beauty, pristine streets, thoughtfully-manicured lascaping, and multi-level streets that make you feel enveloped in the city.
We stayed at the Hotel Hermitage, which was designed by Gustav Eiffel. (Yes, THAT last name should sound familiar!)
If you want to go FOR CHEAP — go in the down season. The room we stayed in was $1400/night during the summer — we went in January and got it for $200/night!
Monte Carlo Casino — featured in three James Bond movies for a reason. There’s a small entrance fee — but even if you don’t gamble, it’s worth paying just to see.
However, it’s not like Las Vegas. It’s a one-room casino, drinks are not free, and when we went, it was VERY QUIET — no music playing, barely anyone talking. There were a lot of serious gamblers there when we went.
Also, phones are frowned upon. You aren’t supposed to take pictures, but of course, I snuck a few in!
But don’t let that scare you — I still won $400 in roulette!
Princess Grace Rose Garden / Prince’s Palace
One of the best things about Monaco, is that you can walk to just about anywhere you want to go in a day ( Seriously, the entire country is only 0.75 square miles!).
The Prince’s Palace and Princess Grace Rose Garden are relatively close, so if you can walk to both in the same outing.
Like I mentioned before, we went in January, so not all the flowers were in bloom — but it was still pretty. The weather was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which was great walking around weather, but not exactly beach weather.
WHAT TO EAT:
Make sure and eat breakfast here, because French-style breakfast buffets are what dreams are made of! Fresh croissants in several flavors, crepes with Nutella, excellent cappuccinos, and all kinds of pastries.
We did the breakfast buffet at the hotel and it was worth every penny!
If you’re looking for something fancy, Le Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo has Michelin-starred chefs, but is definitely pricey, and has a dress code.
Our favorite place to eat there was L’Escale, a small French restaurant on the bay. It was reasonably priced, had EXCELLENT Salmon and Lamb Chops, cheap wine, and great service.
After dinner, we went to a few bars — TWIGA is a popular one there. We also went to several other small bars.
The best part of going out here, is people watching. You’ll hear several different languages, and see all different types of people. Including escorts! We went with a single friend and he was talking to this very attractive woman, about mid-twenties. She spoke three languages, and talked intelligently. We did not realize she was an escort until later in the night when she gave up on her friend and headed to some older gentlemen. Ha.
Also, the going-out scene isn’t nearly as vibrant in the winter. A lot of clubs are only open in the summer. Obviously it would be great to go during the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, but my husband plays baseball so we can’t go in the summer.
The city itself was not busy at all in January either. Which stinks if you really want a strong going-out vibe — it’s not like Barcelona! However, it made walking around the city much better — barely any tourists, which means no one in the background of your pictures!
HOW TO GET THERE:
It was refreshingly easy to get to the city. We flew in to Nice, France, and it was relatively cheap — $600 round-trip from Miami.
From the airport, which is fun in itself — the runway is just a few feet from the ocean – we took a cab for about 40 minutes to Monaco.
We didn’t speak ANY French, but it wasn’t a problem.