SEP 15,2015 - SEP 15,2015 (1 DAYS)
Main Attractions: Hotel Hermitage, Boulingrins Gardens, Place de Casino, Casino de Monte-Carlo, Cafe de Paris, Hotel de Paris, Casino Gardens and Promenade, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the “Hexa Grace”, Grimaldi Forum, the Japanese Garden, Larvotto Promenade, Av. Princesse Grace, Boulevard du Larvotto, Villa Sauber, (Prince's Palace of Monaco - from here: skip to Monaco - part 2).
Part 1: Monte-Carlo.
Part 2: Monaco-Ville.
Part 3: Jardin Exotique de Monaco.
Duaration: One VERY BUSY, LONG and WONDERFUL day. PLEASE, start as early as possible (especially, in case you are coming from and returning to Nice).
Weather: avoid HOT and wet days. A lot of climbing. long walks in very changing terrains. The exotic garden, in the end, of the route is quite demanding on its own. We use public buses along this route.
Walking Distance: approx. 15 km.
Start & End: Monte Carlo Railway station.
Introduction: We devote the first half of the day to Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the Monte Carlo Casino in the east and northeast. THe second half is centered in Monaco-Ville, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean, known as the Rock of Monaco, or simply "The Rock". The La Condamine district is NOT included in this itinerary.
The best transportation ways to go from Nice to Monaco:
Nice to Monaco By Bus:
The bus is a convenient and cheap. view all the way to Monaco.
From Nice downtown to Monaco and Menton – Line 100: only €1.50 per person (1 way) (summer 2015) and takes about 40-45 minutes. The bus stops in Nice at: Le port and Avenue Gustavin. It leaves every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on Sundays and French holidays. The 45-minute drive to Monaco is absolutely stunning, so sit on the right side of the bus if you can. Don’t be tempted to take the Monaco Express 100X, as you will save only 10 minutes driving time but will miss all the gorgeous scenery.
From Nice Airport to Monaco - Line 110: The Bus starts from the Nice Cote d’azur airport (NCE) to Monaco and beyond. The trip will cost you €20 and takes about 45 minutes. Timetable and detailed pricing.
Nice to Monaco By Train: The train runs faster and offers some magnificent French Riviera views all along the way. It takes about 22 minutes to go from Nice Ville station to Monaco Monte-Carlo station for an average price of €3.60.
Typical weekdays' timetable from Nice Ville to Monaco:
05.25, 05.56, 06.25, 06.40, 06.56, 07.10, 07.25, 07.40, 07.55, 08.10, 08.25, 08.40, 09.00, 09.10, 09.25, 09.40, 09.55, 10.26, 10.55, 11.25.
Transportaion in Monaco: Monaco isn’t a very large place but getting around on foot can be quite tiring after a while due to the very uneven terrain and the heat in the summer. Fortunately buses are frequent and very cheap, with a very extensive network: a single ticket is just 2 € anywhere in Monaco and an even better deal is the one-day unlimited pass which costs just 5 €. We shall use the public transportation, along this route, at least a couple of times.
We took the train from Nice Ville. Busy, but not crowded. Convenient. Reasonable prices. Might be some delays in arrival. Take the cheap TER trains. The TGV trains are expensive and reservation is mandatory.
From Monte-Carlo railway station head southeast on Avenue d'Alsace toward Pont Sainte-Dévote, 30 m. Turn left onto Pont Sainte-Dévote
25 m. Turn right onto Boulevard de Suisse, 400 m.
In front of us Square Beaumarchais and Hotel Hermitage.The building exterior is stunning. An oasis of luxury - 5 minutes from the railway station and from the Casino. We tried to enter the hotel and climb to its highest floor - for a stunning view over the port - but, we were denied:
Turn LEFT onto Avenue de la Costa. On our left are high-rise buildings:
200-250 m. further (north-east) along Avenue de la Costa - and you see, on your right, the Jardins du Casino (Casino Gardens) or Boulingrins Gardens and Montecarlo Pavillions. The mix of the futuristic pavilions in the Boulingrins Gardens (bulbous structures clad in diagonal-shaped aluminum panels) and the iconic Belle Époque buildings of the Casino Square is stunning. The pavilions have been built in a pedestrian-only zone, and access to the Place du Casino can be gained through a path snaking, north to south, between the five pavilions and surrounding foliage. People with limited mobility are also able to use the path. The pebble-shaped pavilions structures have been surrounded with exotic species like palms.
The Casino Monte-Carlo with the ornate gardens of Casino Square in FRONT of it:
Jardins du Casino (Casino Gardens) or Boulingrins Gardens. Stretched uphill in front of (north-west) the casino, bordered, from both sides by the Alees des Boulingrins, the French style garden of lawns and magnificent fountains sits alongside the “Little Africa” garden, with its exuberant species:
Our next destination is the Place de Casino with the world famous, legendary Casino. The Place du Casino lie between the Boulingrins Gardens (upper level) and the Casino itself (lower level). The Casino square of Monte Carlo (Place de casino) is beautifully decorated. Nice square but, frequently, very crowded. The fountain and flowers make it look spectacular on the view of the Casino in front. Next to it there is the Parking lot where expensive old and new model cars like the Rolls Royce, the American Cadillac are packed. Many sightseers are looking into the casino and taking "selfies" alongside the extravagant cars parked near the casino:
A bit lower in the slope, stands the Mecca of table games, legendary for its Belle Epoque style - the Casino de Monte-Carlo is also world-renowned among gaming circles. Nowhere else in Europe do you get the feeling of such fancy, concentrated wealth. It’s utterly absorbing. The most celebrated gambling spot in the world is so exotic of reputation that it has to be seen. Gaining entrance is a doddle. First ensure that you’re over 18. Then leap up the steps, show your passport or other id., hand over 10.10 euros and that’s it. For the last 150 years, it has offered exceptional table games in a unique style. Open every day starting 14.00. Admission charges : 10 €, for people over 18 with ID card or passport. VISITS OF THE GAMING ROOMS AT CASINO DE MONTE-CARLO WHEN GAMES ARE NOT OPERATING (before 14.00): Salle Renaissance / Salle Europe / Salle des Amériques / Salle Blanche / Salons Touzet / Salle Médecin (Private). Opening Times : everyday from 9.00 until 12.00. Prices: - Individual : €10 per person - Group: €7 per person (minimum 10 people – Free access for the guide or tour group leader). Desk located in the Salle Amérique. Payment in cash (credit cards will soon be accepted – no cheques). From 14.00 - regarding the new organization, groups, guides and tour leaders will no longer be able to enter the gaming rooms in the Casino of Monte-Carlo when the games are open i.e. from 14.00. Instead groups, guides and tour leadersare now very welcome in the morning from 9.00 until 12.00 to visit the prestigious Casino de Monte-Carlo when the games are closed. Tourist groups wishing to visit the Casino de Monte-Carlo during gaming hours (starting from 14.00) must enter as individual clients and meet requirements (e.g. dress code) (correct attire mandatory. No uniforms. Jacket recommended after 20.00 in the Salons Privés. Casino facilities: Salons Touzet : European Roulette, English Roulette, Trente et Quarante, Punto Banco, Poker Texas Hold’Em Ultimate, Black Jack. Opening of the Salons Touzet : every day from 14.00. Terrasse Salle Blanche : European Roulette / Black Jack / Punto Banco
Opening of the terrace Salle Blanche: 14.00. every day (depending on the climate, closed in winter, open only in the summer evenings when the weather is warm. Opening hours of private gaming areas:
European Roulette, Baccarat Chemin de Fer, Black Jack and Punto Banco: open Thursday through Sunday and holidays starting at 16.00. Trente et Quarante: starting from 22.00. You are not able to go inside with hand carries or a stroller, Everything have to be checked in (and very expensive). The best idea is to take turn and the one will tour while the other one watch the kids and/or stuffs. The Casino de Monte-Carlo is owned and operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a public company in which the Monaco government and the ruling family have a majority interest. The company also owns the principal hotels, sports clubs, food service establishments, and nightclubs throughout Monaco:
Another spot in the Place de Casino is the Cafe de Paris or Brasserie du Cafe de Paris - for people and cars watching, expensive food and elegant premises and posh waiters. With your back to the Casino - it is on your right. Inside, a warm decor featuring Belle Epoque style windows, recalling the old Parisian bistros, creates a bright and friendly atmosphere. Always busy and relaxed. The best time to go is for a late breakfast or lunch. Be prepared to wait for a outside table as they are always in demand in sunny days. Expensive. Slow and polite service. Food and drinks - not exceptional...:
Also included in Place du Casino is Hotel de Paris (opposite the Cafe. With the back to the Casino - on your left) - the spot to stay if you've just broken the bank in Monte Carlo. Built in 1864 using the very best materials of the period. The hotel has featured in numerous films, including Confessions of a Cheat (1936), The Red Shoes (1948), Iron Man 2 (2010), Monte Carlo (2011), and two James Bond films; Never Say Never Again (1983) and Golden Eye (1995). It was also portrayed in the 2012 animated film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted:
We continue to the Casino Gardens and Promenade behind the Casino complex.Then nip to the sea-front. The Monte Carlo Casino’s main façade faces inland. It’s worth popping around the back, to the sea-side of the building. With our face to the Casino - we take its left wings (Gucci shops) and we walk around the Casino complex to its back side.The immediate back side of the Casino is blocked (no access):
So we take the stairs east and behind the Casino leading to the Casino Gardens and Promenade. On our left is Cafe Horizon:
There are extensive construction works around - and you are also blocked entering the space in front of the Opera building (see below). We slight left, surrounding the back of the Bar du Soleil. Here we enter an amazing terrace with stunning views to the Port. Do not miss the huge cruising ships resting, lazily, in the deep blue waters of the Port:
Now, turn back with your face to the city, Casino hill and the mountains and your back to the Port. On your right - you see the Opera (a bit from the distance). The Opéra de Monte-Carlo is situated behind the casino, at the south-east side of the square (the hilly side direction). It is, formally, included in the Casino complex.The opera house is part of the Monte Carlo Casino. The architect Charles Garnier designed this opera building (Salle Garnier) and also designed the Paris opera house now known as the Palais Garnier. The Salle Garnier is much smaller, 524v seatings, compared to about 2,000 for the Palais Garnier, and unlike the Paris theatre, which was started in 1861 and only completed in 1875, the Salle Garnier was constructed in only eight and a half months. Nevertheless, its ornate style was heavily influenced by that of the Palais Garnier, and many of the same artists worked on both theatres. Although the Monte Carlo theatre was not originally intended for opera, it was soon used frequently for that purpose and was remodeled in 1898–99 by Henri Schmit, primarily in the stage area, to make it more suitable for opera. The hall was inaugurated on 25 January 1879 with a performance by Sarah Bernhardt dressed as a nymph. The first opera performed there was Robert Planquette's Le Chevalier Gaston on 8 February 1879, followed by three additional operas in the first season. The annual season starts at mid-November. Baroque opulent building is spectacle on its own with VERY NICE architecture. Overlooking the sea. You can walk around the exterior with some views of the water. No touristic guided visits like in Paris. If you can get tickets during the short opera season - try to go. World class opera in a beautiful ornate and intimate space at reasonable prices:
The whole area around is itself pretty impressive. It also gives onto a huge terrace which doubles as roof of the Rainier III Auditorium which in turn stretches out over the sea on piles. This whole sea-frontage is a monumental puzzle of great 20th-century buildings pushing out to sea, whose roofs are the floors of something else. Or gardens. Or sites for contemporary art. It’s an insight into just how cleverly Monaco has maximized the use of very limited space. So sophisticated is it that one is surprised to see something as elemental as the sea lapping away underneath. Spend time exploring the Casino Gardens and Terraces with their magnificent flowerbeds and diverse species of plants. Overlooking the sea the terraces bathed in sun invite you to stroll along them:
A Ballerina statue of Marco Lodola (1996) in the Casino Gardens and the Opera in the background:
A sculpture of Reina Marianna (Manolo Valdes, 2004) in the Casino Gardens and the Opera in the background:
A sculpture of Adam and Eve - F. Butero, 1981:
View of the Casino and the Opera from the Casino gardens and promenade:
View of the Opera from the Casino gardens and promenade:
View of apartments hotel from the Casino gardens and promenade:
Downhill, the “Hexa Grace” by Victor Vasarely (Hexagrace - Le Ciel, la Mer, la Terre : the Sky, the Sea, the Earth), a hexagon-shaped Mosaic Pool designed by Victor Vasarely in 1979 ) located on the rooftop of Monaco's Center of Congress building terrace overlooking the sea, are the masterpieces which are worth the visit:
East to the Casino and the Opera (in the most eastern edge of the Casino Gardens) - you can see the Budhaa Bar. Upscale trendy restaurant. Excellent Asian Cuisine with a contemporary design, flare and decoration. The vibe is very lively in the restaurant. This restaurant is worth a visit as a nice change of pace from traditional french cuisine. Of course prices aren't exactly cheap, as in the rest of the principality:
From the Casino Garden and Promenade there are clear signs leading your way to our next destination - the Japanese garden (the path goes when the Saranapale Building is on your right and you pass through Cafe Twiga on your right and FORUM GRIMALDI on your left as well). The walk through the path is very rewarding with marvelous scenery !!!:
Forum Grimaldi on your left:
... and the sea on your right:
The Grimaldi Forum (quartier, Larvotto) is a conference and congress centre located on the seafront between the Monte Carlo Casino (west) and the Japanese Garden (east) on Monaco's eastern beach . Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra regularly perform there. This is also the venue of the EVER Monaco exhibition held March annually. During the renovation of Salle Garnier in the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 2004–05, operas were presented at the Salle des Princes in the Grimaldi Forum. Grimaldi Forum also hosts the draw for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, including the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award award. It also plays host to the draw for the Group Stage of the UEFA Europa League:
Otherwise, if you want to return to the Casino Square: head northeast on Avenue des Spélugues toward Avenue de la Madone, 260 m. Avenue des Spélugues turns slightly left and becomes Avenue Princesse Grâce, 120 m. Slight right to stay on Avenue Princesse Grâce, 40 m. At the roundabout, take the 4th exit onto Av. Princesse Grace, 160 m and you arrive to the Japanese Garden.
Avenue Princesse Grâce and Houston Palace skyscraper:
The Japanese Garden (FREE admission, 9.00 – sunset) (note: there is WC in the garden) is a magnificent garden, designed by the landscape architect Yasuo Beppu. An authentic work of art, it blends stone, water and plants in marvelous harmony. This park at the foot of the city is blessed with a special atmosphere. Peaceful, stunning, authentic with a waterfall, tea house, covered terrace, large pond with koi fish, lots of stepping stones, stream, red bridge and authentic pines and plants. accentuated by the use of water sprays on the bushes of azalea, rhododendrons and camellias. Some good views of the coast from around the area. It is a small garden and it takes no more than 20-30 minutes to stroll around its paths. DO NOT MISS THIS GARDEN - A SUPERB DELIGHT:
Exiting the japanese Garden - we continue walking eastward along the seafront Larvotto Promenade - now, lined with sculptures along its left (north side). It is 700 m. walk until the end of this fantastic promenade:
La Petite Sirene - Suhlgard, 2000:
Princesse Grace, 2007. On our right is the restaurant "La Rose des Vents":
Le Pecheur (The Fisherman) - Gustave Dussart:
We are, almost, in the most eastern edge of Larvotto Promenade (Plage du Larvotto and Miami Plage):
At last we arrive to a dead end of Larvotto Promenade - here we find a marvelous fountain:
We turn to the left and ascend the stairs leading to Av. Princesse Grace. On our right is Hotel Le Meridien Beach Plaza. Opposite the hotel - another high-rise building:
Continue 250 m. further (north-east) along Avenue Princesse Grace and we arrive to the Hotel Monte-Carlo Bay on our right - another stunning hotel, partially, hidden behind its elegant walls:
Opposite the Monte Carlo Bay hotel stretches the Formula 1 racing street (Avenue Princesse Grace):
Beyond Monte Carlo Bay hotel the Avenue Princesse Grace continues eastward along Roduebrune-cap-Martin beach (the northern side of Monte-Carlo bay):
From the northern side of Avenue Princesse Grace, opposite side of Monte Carlo Bay hotel - we used an ELEVATOR to ascend to Boulevard du Larvotto, an elevated road. We are in Monaco's Larvotto District and we'll take the rare opportunity to walk, on foot, back, with our face to the south-west - along one of the most luxurious areas in Monaco. The Boulevard du Larvotto was built in 1956 to replace the railway line (the railway arrived in Monaco on 12 October 1868.) The name of this road, "Larvotto," derives from the word "Revoto," which was found on a map dating from 1602. It was also known as "Ruovoto," meaning "the hollow." In the 18th century it was referred to as "Prevotto," then "Larevotto," finally becoming "Larvotto," the current name of this district, an area that is very popular with tourists in summer.
On our right - Le Florestan is a breath-taking 13-story high-rise building:
200-250 m. further south-west in Boulevard du Larvotto is the Floridian Palace (No. 523):
We continue to walk along posh and elegant high-rise buildings in Boulevard du Larvotto until we hit a small exotic small garden in on our left. Here, we take the stairs and descend to Av. Princesse Grace:
In Av. Princesse Grace - on our left is Forum Grimaldi and on our right is Villa Sauber - one (of two) part of the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, 17 av. Princesse-Grace. The Museum’s two (recently opened) venues are located at: Villa Paloma, 56 boulevard du Jardin Exotique and Villa Sauber in 17 Avenue Princesse Grace. We face, now, the second one. With a focus on modern, contemporary works of art, these newly re-designed venues present two expositions annually per venue and spotlight the cultural, historic and artistic virtues of Principality. The museum villa is one of the last Belle Époque villas in Monaco. Opening Hours: Open every day from 8.00 until 18.00. From June 1st until September 30th from 11.00 till 19.00. Closed on January 1st, May 1st, 4 days of the Grand Prix, November 19th and December 25th. Prices: Full price NMNM ticket (Villa Paloma + Villa Sauber) 6€, Groups 4€ (min. 15 people). Combined ticket NMNM / Exotic Garden / Anthropological Museum: 10€. Free entrance every Sunday. Free for anyone under 26 years old, scholar groups and groups of children, Monaco citizens:
Av. Princesse Grace changes, a bit, its direction and slights southward. 350 m. further we arrive to a huge round-about. On the east side of this round-about (Rond-Point du Portier) you can see sales agencies of the most grandiose cars' brands:
From here it is more than 1 km. climb to the Casino hill. Opposite the building, in the photo below,
you can catch bus No. 6 and get off ONE STOP AFTER the CASINO. Then, catch bus No. 2 to the Royal Palace and drop off near PLace de la Visitation and rue Emile de Loth. Another option is to take bus No. 2 to the Place D'Armes (see below) and climb on foot in a very scenic path or (stairway to the Prince's Palace of Monaco.
From here - skip to the "Monaco - Part 2 - Monaco Ville" for the second half of the day in Monaco-Ville.