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Monaco Travel Guide

Updated on February 4, 2013
Cte d'Azur - Monaco
Cte d'Azur - Monaco

Monaco is a destination for the rich and for those who dream of becoming rich. Even though it is the second smallest state in the world, Monaco benefits from a pleasant climate and a beautiful location on the AzureCoast. From the heights of Tete de Chien or Mont Angel, or from Moyenne-Corniche and the entrance in Jardin Exotique, there are many places that offer panoramic views of the landscape. Monaco is a place where you can visit both the French Riviera and Italy.

In the main port, the exquisite yachts and boats, permanent residents in the port, are symbols of the country’s reputation of being a glamorous destination, for the rich and famous. To this image is rounded by the lack of taxes on income or inheritance. And tourism is the main source of income, being the main occupation for the inhabitants.

Monaco Ville
Monaco Ville

Monaco's Tourist Attractions

  • In the historical center Monaco-Ville there is the Place du Palais, where you can see Prince Albert’s palace and the state buildings. Built in 1215, the palace has the Throne Chamber and the Main Court in the center, with the marble stairs settled in a horseshoe shape, decorated with geometrical figures. You can assist at the guard’s changing ceremony that takes place every day, right before noon.
  • In the historical center there are also many interesting museums, include the OceanographicMuseum and the Aquarium, whose magnificent façade rises up from the sea and which houses collections of sea flora and fauna renowned all over the world. Other museums are the Souvenirs and the Napoleonic Collections Museum and the Historical Archives of the Palace, which include thousands of exhibits, the Monaco’s Princess Wax Museum and the Monte Carlo Story, a show that centers on the country’s history.
  • Relax in the Saint MartinGardens, which inspired the poet Guillaume Apollinaire between 1887 and 1889.
  • Visit the JapaneseGardens near the sea, the PuppetsNationalMuseum and the Easter Clock Exhibits, the ExoticGardens, the Caves and the PrehistoricAnthropologyMuseum and the Condamine Square.
  • In the Fontvieille area discover over 180 types of roses, in the Princess Grace’ garden. The Stamp and PennyMuseum offers a collection of rare stamps, which illustrate the history of Monaco. Nearby there is the Prince’s Rainer III Private Collection of Classic Cars, and also the Navy Museum and the Zoo Terraces.
  • Take part in the famous Formula 1 competition, Monaco Grand Prix, which takes place every year on the principality’s narrow streets.
  • You can practice a variety of water sports – water skiing, windsurfing, scuba diving and sailing.
  • Gamble with style in the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. The casino is located in the most famous neighbourhood, Golden Circle, where there are most exquisite hotels, restaurants and shops. The buildings’ style is distinguished by might and luxury. The casino is connected with the Opera Salle Garnier by an atrium aligned by 28 Ionic onyx columns. The minimal age to enter the casino is 21 years old.

Monaco's Cuisine

Monaco has a Mediterranean cuisine, using the olive oil abundantly, fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, black olives and anchovies. The fish is an often used ingredient, especially in stews. The region is famous for the abundance of fresh vegetables, and the salads are very popular. Ratatouille is a vegetable stew made out of tomatoes, onion, pepper and eggplants. The champagne has the status of being a national beverage.

Monaco Hotel Balconies
Monaco Hotel Balconies

Monaco's History

First the Phoenicians, then the Greeks, had a temple dedicated to Hercules on Monaco’s territory. The principality’s name comes from the Greek name of this mythological hero, Monoikos. After being independent for 800 years, Monaco was annexed to France in 1793 and laid under Sardinia’s protection in 1815. By the French-Monacan Treaty in 1861, Monaco was given to the French custody, but remained independent. A treaty with France in 1918 contained a clause that stipulated that, in the event that the Grimaldi genealogical line would have ended, Monaco would become and autonomous state under French Protectorate.

The tourism industry in Monaco draws around 1.5 million visitors every year and it’s famous for its beaches and casinos, especially the one in Monte Carlo which had gambling tables since 1856. Prince Rainier III was born in 1923 and became his grandfather’s successor, Louis II. Rainier was married with the American actress Grace Kelly, whom he had three children with.

The country’s custom of asking no taxes from the French businessmen lead to conflicts between the countries in 1962. A compromise was settled – the French citizens that had a residence of at least five years in Monaco would pay taxes at the French level, and the companies that had 25% of their business outside de principality’s borders would pay taxes. The country was admitted in the United Nations in 1993. In 1997 the principality celebrated 700 years of Grimaldi rule.

What You Should Know

The casual apparel is accepted all over the place, except some restaurants, clubs and private saloons. A hand shake is the usual greeting gesture or, in more intimate relations, a kiss on both cheeks. The local hour is GMT+1.

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