Monaco tips

By Stephen Addison
This item appears on page 18 of the December 2019 issue.

The Casino de Monte-Carlo faces the Place du Casino, featuring a fountain with a sky-mirror sculpture. Photos by Stephen Addison

Travelers can experience many of Monaco’s attractions with a day trip from the French Riviera or an excursion from a cruise ship. The tiny Principality of Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world (the Vatican is smaller); however, it seems larger when you try to visit all of its top sights in a single day.

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco, the Monaco Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum are all conveniently clustered in Monaco-Ville. The high ground of Monaco-Ville offers spectacular views of Monaco and nearby coastal areas.

Just before noon each day, if the weather is good, a Changing of the Guard is held in the plaza outside the Prince’s Palace. (It’s much more modest than the ceremonies at Windsor and Buckingham palaces.) It’s worthwhile if you happen to be nearby at the right time, but it’s certainly not a “must see.”

Most travelers visit the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo. Google Maps indicates that it’s only a 20- to 30-minute walk between Monaco-Ville and the casino, but walking would not be my first choice. Despite Monaco’s small size, it’s a good idea to use local buses between different quartiers due to very hilly terrain and lots of traffic.

A view of Monaco from Monaco-Ville, looking north across Port Hercule.

A bus ticket costs 2 (near $2.25) and can be purchased from the driver. Bus routes 1 and 2 connect Monaco-Ville and Monte Carlo.

On the far side of the gardens, uphill from the Casino de Monte-Carlo, is Monaco’s tourist office. My wife, Paula Owens, and I found the staff there to be welcoming and helpful during our September 2019 visit. Upon request, they’ll place an impressive Monaco stamp in your passport for free.

It’s easy to take a day trip from the French Riviera to Monaco by either bus or train. Both forms of transportation have frequent service and are inexpensive. Buses provide a more scenic journey.

If returning to Nice or points west by bus, the first stop — and the most convenient for tourists — for Bus 112 (to Nice via the Middle Corniche and the village of √ąze) was recently relocated to directly in front of the tourist office.

Bus 100 (to Nice via the Lower Corniche) also stops at that location. See Lignes d’Azur’s website (www.lignesdazur.com) for detailed information regarding buses connecting Nice and Monaco.

Changing of the Guard at Place du Palais in Monaco.

Be sure to research phone plans before using your phone in or near Monaco. Monaco is not included in several common “global” calling plans and wasn’t even included on the French SIM cards I checked.

At the time of our visit, Monaco wasn’t covered by Verizon’s TravelPass, nor was it included in Sprint’s Global Roaming. Monaco did appear to be included in AT&T and T-Mobile international plans, however. (During our trip, I overheard a phone conversation that a traveler was having with Verizon. He had just learned that he had inadvertently incurred over $50 in charges because Monaco was not covered by his TravelPass.)

To avoid excess charges, we turned our phones off before approaching Monaco and didn’t turn them back on until we were well away.

STEPHEN ADDISON
Charlotte, NC