Monte-Carlo - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Monte-Carlo


Monte-Carlo, unofficial capital of glamorous and lavish Monaco, is surprisingly unattractive and is embellished more by its citizens and visitors than its own attractions. The capital is a blend of ugly high rise buildings and windy roads, but does boast the legendary Casino, luxury hotels, elegant nightclubs and restaurants, views of the sparkling Mediterranean and of course, the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Established in 1866, Monte-Carlo was named in honour of Prince Charles III and is the richest of the country's four quarters. For years, Monte-Carlo has been the playground of the rich and famous, from Hollywood starlets to royalty, and business people dodging the taxman. It is also one of Europe's foremost holiday resorts, but certainly not for the humble backpacker. The city has several attractions, such as the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, the Monaco Cathedral and the Prince's Palace, several gardens, and other attractions centred on the country's famous Royal Family, such as an exhibition of HSH Prince of Monaco's private collection of classic cars.

There are some interesting diversions, such as catamaran trips, watersports, yachting and the Azur Express tourist train that links up the city's attractions accompanied by multi-lingual commentary. Worth exploring is the Old Town, with its attractive City Hall, and of course when one is bored of sightseeing, the best diversion (and the cheapest) is merely to settle down with a fancy cocktail and people-watch.

Information & Facts


Monte-Carlo, like Monaco, has a spectacular Mediterranean climate, boasting roughly 300 days of sunshine a year. July and August are the hottest months, while spring and autumn are the best times to visit, as temperatures are milder.

Getting Around

Monte-Carlo has an efficient public transport system, with five bus lines. An excellent way to save money is to buy the Daily Tourist Pass, which at a flat rate, allows unlimited travel all day. A series of elevators also operate to transport visitors and residents up and down the steep streets of the city. Perhaps the best way to explore the city, however, is on foot.

The official language of Monaco is French, but English and Italian, as well as Mongasque and Occitan (local languages) are also spoken.

The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change or hotels. Bank hours are usually 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm Monday to Friday and are closed on weekends. The Credit Foncier de Monacois open daily. Travellers cheques (US$ are the preferred currency) are not widely accepted and should be exchanged at banks or a bureaux de change. All major credit cards are widely accepted.


A good place to get into the swing of things is Le Bar Américain where the upper-crust mingle and socialise with their Champagne and cocktails in hand, while a jazz trio belts out some upbeat tunes to get you in the mood. But on a perfect warm summer's evening there's no better place to watch the sun go down that at the hip and trendy Sea Lounge where party people meet over a cocktail or two by the water's edge in Monte Carlo Beach. The Living Room and the Legend, both located on avenue des Speluges, are popular nightclubs where anyone wanting to get their groove on can dance the night away, while lively bars like the Chip and Castle or Black Diamond are more upmarket and many come here to pose and be seen. Jimmy'z on avenue Princesse Grace is theplace to go where you can don your favourite party outfit, slip into those killer heels and dance the night away with Monte-Carlo's beautiful people.

If live music is what you're after, visit Moods on place du Casino, which has already attracted some big international acts while Sass Café is another hot spot for live music, lots of dancing and a rip roaring good time. Or if jazz is more your thing, head to the Blue Note to get your groove on! For a quieter and more sophisticated night out, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo is the place to go to see international ballets and other productions as well as the Ballets de Monte Carlo. Mention the resident opera company, and the symphony, while the Monte Carlo Opera also draws hundreds of visitors to its world-class performances.


One of the most glamorous cities in the world, it's not surprising the shopping in Monte Carlo is both exclusive and expensive. Be sure to bring your 'flexible friend' along because its sure get have a good workout on a shopping trip in Monte Carlo. With some of the most exclusive designer brands in the world and top notch boutiques selling haute couture, the streets of Monte Carlo are a dream come true for shopaholics and, although many of the shops can be found in most other major cities across the globe, there's something special about shopping here. For big names like Gucci, Armani and Versace, head to Avenue des Beaux-Arts, under the Hotel Metropole. The Cercle d'Or (Golden Square) comprises Avenue Monte-Carlo, Avenue des Beaux Arts and Les Allées Lumières and even though most travellers will only be able to afford to window shop, it's still worth a visit. Head to the Place du Casino for the best selection of jewellery stores, while the pedestrianised Rue Princess Caroline is one of the city's more popular shopping areas and attracts tourists and avid shoppers by the dozen. The Fontvieille Shopping Centre boasts 36 shops, while malls such as Les Allées Lumières, the Metropole and the Principality are also good for a day of shopping, with restaurants and cafés for weary shoppers to rest their legs and refuel. And for those who are on a very tight budget, head to Monte Carlo's Condamine Market in the Place d'Armes where shoppers can stop to view the luxurious yachts in the docks and pick up some cheaper souvenirs such as F1 memorabilia and souvenir number plates.


Monte-Carlo offers a lot more than just striking natural beauty, it also features some historical and modern attractions sure to keep visitors of all persuasions happy. With a Mediterranean climate, Monte-Carlo is pleasant all year round, though winters can sometimes be a little chilly, and summers very crowded. The city is fairly easy to navigate your way around, once you know the short cuts.

There is plenty to see and do here. Head to the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium to see Prince Albert's personal collection of marine life or just visit the 4,000 fish in the aquarium, as well as the Shark Lagoon. Visit the Prince's Palace, which was established in the 13th century and has been the residence of the Grimaldi family ever since, where 15 rooms are open to the public, including the throne room, or check out the magnificent Monaco Cathedral which houses the tombs of the late Princess Grace and former princes of Monaco.

Big spenders should spend some time making or blowing their fortune at the Monte-Carlo casino, or if that's too much for you, enjoy relaxing in the Jardin Exotique where the thousands of plants will amaze green-fingered travellers, or spend an afternoon marvelling at the fabulous yachts in La Condamine, one of Monaco's oldest districts, where you can even spend some time browsing through the Condamine Market.

The Monaco Cathedral is a beautiful structure that was built in 1875 and rests on a site of a 13th-century church that was dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The Cathedral houses the tomb of the much-loved Princess Grace, as well as the former Princes of Monaco. During religious festivals and religious holidays, the sounds of the Cathedral's splendid four-keyboard organ can be enjoyed, as well as the Sunday mass, which is sung by the Cathedral Choir.

The opulent and world-renowned Monte-Carlo Casino was built in 1878 by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera House. The Salle Garnier hosts ballet, opera and concerts, while the Gaming Rooms are filled with all the glitz and glamour one would expect from a top-class casino. The rooms sport stained glass windows, sculptures, and of course, the rich and famous. Jacket and tie are required for men.

Monaco's Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium was opened by Prince Albert I in 1910 and houses his personal collection of marine life, models of the Prince's laboratory ships and other crafts made from marine products. The imposing building is perched dramatically on a cliff and faces the sea, providing lovely views. The basement houses an impressive aquarium with over 4,000 fish species and 200 invertebrates, as well as the Shark Lagoon.

Established in the 13th century, Monaco's royal palace has been the residence of the ruling Grimaldi family ever since. The most famous resident was Grace Kelly, who was married to Prince Rainier III. Every generation has left their mark on the place, and as a result this is not one of Europe's most elegant castles from the outside. It is worth taking a look inside though; 15 rooms, including the Throne Room, are open to the public. In the south wing of the palace is the Musée des Souvenirs Napoléoniens, which contains a collection of Napoleon's memorabilia. The changing of the guard takes place in front of the palace every day, lasting just two minutes, so take care to be on time.

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