SEP 15,2015 - SEP 15,2015 (1 DAYS)
Monaco - part 2:
Main Attractions: Place de la Mairie, Musee de la Chapelle de la Visitation, Prince's Palace of Monaco, Ruelle Sainte-Barbe, Saint-Martin Promenade, Monaco Cathedral, Palais de Justice, Saint-Martin Gardens, Musée Océanographique de Monaco, Fort Antoine Theatre, Place d’Armes. From here - skip to part 3.
As mentioned in part 1 - we devote our second half of the day to Monaco Ville. You can walk on foot the whole way from the Casino in Monte Carlo to the Prince's Palace of Monaco in Monaco Ville - totally 1.7 km. If you choose to walk up to the Place du Palais from the town/harbour it is a long one and scenic but all up hill. We were/are in fairly good shape, and we were breathless from the climb up the stairs. However, once we got to the top, it was worth it. The palace is pretty, the views gorgeous plus there are shops and restaurants. Better, take bus No. 2 near Place de la Visitation and rue Emile de Loth. Another option: drop off the bus No. 2 at at the Place D'Armes in Monaco Ville and climb to the Palace via scenic moderate stairway - but with wonderful views to the sea:
In our case - bus No. 2 had a stop at the Place de la Visitation.
Head east on Rue Emile de Loth (pedestrian-only) toward Rue de Vedel, 200 m. Turn left (north) to Place de la Mairie (after passing Rue Saint Devotee on your right). Place de la Mairie (town-hall square) is a small, picturesque square. In its centre the town hall, a fountain and an ornate post office:
Opposite is the Chapelle de la Miséricorde. Its facade is pink-white. Built in 1639 during the reign of Prince Honoré II , Prior of the Brotherhood of Black Penitents. It houses a Christ carved in the woods by the Monegasque François -Joseph Bosio , official sculptor of Emperor Napoleon:
The Place de la Mairie is connected with the Royal Palace by three pedestrians- only alleys: Rue Basse, Rue Comte Félix Gastaldi and Rue Emile de Loth. But, we'll return to the Place de la Visitation. From the Place de la Visitation we started walking along rue Emile de Loth (Post Office on our right. The road is full with souvenirs shops and eateries) to the Prince's Palace of Monaco.
Musee de la Chapelle de la Visitation: Open all year - MON - SUN 10.00 - 16.00. Prices: Adult - €6, free admission children under 12, reduced rate €1.5 students - children under 12 & seniors. Baroque style, from the 17th century, this museum houses some of the masterpieces of scared art by Rubens, Zurbaran, Ribera and the masters of Italian Baroque:
It is 350 m. walk to the palace. From Place de la Visitation head southwest, 30 m. Turn left to stay on Place de la Visitation, 10 m. Turn right onto Rue Emile de Loth, 300 m .... and you face the Prince's Palace of Monaco. The Place du Palais is a classic must see. It is not very exciting, under an heavy reconstruction but you can't leave without seeing it. The ramp culminates on Palace Square. The Palace Square in Monaco (Place du Palais) is the picturesque square located in front of the Royal Palace (Prince's Palace). You’ll be greeted by the bronze statue of a monk concealing a sword, representing François Grimaldi, also known as “Malizia”, who stormed the Palace in 1297 and founded the ruling dynasty. The Palace itself was built in 1191 (originally, as a Genoese fortress) and occupied by the Grimaldi family fro 1297. The Palace Square accommodates the infamous Changing of the Guard at 11.55 every day. Depending on what time of the year you go the guards will be wearing either white or blue & white. It might be very crowded and hot to get a glimpse of the Palace Guards walking in the sun. The changing of the guard does not compare to others. There is very little pomp. The Palace is the official residence of the Prince of Monaco, and was constructed in the late 12th century as a fortress. The Palace is defended by special guards known as the ‘Carabiniers’. The Palace is a breathtaking view itself, with several tourists often visiting the official residence of the Royal Family. In the XXI century, the palace is still the residence of the current Prince of Monaco, Albert II. The wide open stunning views of Monaco from this area are spectacular:
In the Palace Square stands a life-size statue of Francesco Grimaldi in a monk's cape with a sword hidden under his robe:
The palace itself is splendid but not so majestic. Today the splendors of this palace can indeed be admired, such as its Italian-style gallery and its 15th century frescoes; its Louis XVth lounge all in yellow and gold, its Blue Room, a harmonious blend of glorious blue and gold; its Mazarin room covered with multi-coloured wood panelling; the Throne Room, decorated with an impressive Renaissance fireplace; the Palatine Chapel built in the 17th century; St-Mary's Tower, built from the white stones of nearby La Turbie; the Main Courtyard and its 17th century Carrara marble double staircase… Open daily: From April 2 to October 31, except Saturday and Sunday of F1 Grand Prix. April, May, June, September and October from 10.00 to 18.00 (last admission 17.30). July and August: from 10.00 to 19.00 (last admission 18.30). Closed from November 1st to April 1st. Prices: Adults: 8 €, Children aged 8-14 and students: 4 €. Joint Tickets: Palace and the Oceanographic Museum - Adults: 19 €, Youth (13-18 years), Students: 11 €, Children (8-12 years): 8 €, Children (4-7 years): 7 €. Tickets valid only for the current year from April 2 to October 31. Joint Tickets: Palace and Collection cars HSH Prince - Adults: 11.50 €, Children (8-14 years) Students: 5 €. The whole tour takes just under an hour. It includes 10-15 rooms only (stairway, Hercules Gallery overlooking the inner court, Louis XV Salon, Throne Room and one of the towers). NO PHOTOS ALLOWED INSIDE !
The Napoleon Museum which existed in the lower floor of the Palace - DOES NOT EXIST ANY MORE. The whole museum's collection has been sold off in a public auction in year 2014:
The views from this hill plus the cannons, cannon balls, artistic benches and trees, make this a fun stroll. We preferred to arrive to the palace in the early afternoon hours. An afternoon / evening visit affords the opportunity to see and photograph the palace (and wonderful panoramic views around) in very flattering illumination:.
The palace has a great view of the marina and essentially most of Monaco, so even if you don't take a tour of the palace it's a great place to take good pictures. You get a wonderful marina view from the palace square. On the side just at the top of the ramp, picture postcard view of Monte Carlo and the casino, the Port Hercule harbour, the not-so-pretty mountainside skyscrapers with Cap Martin and the Italian Riviera in the distance – so three countries in the same photo ! There are a lot of shops surrounding the palace and a lot of eating places. The entire area is spotless. Everyone speaks very good English:
Opposite the Palace - the Palace Barracks building:
In case you didn't climb the whole way to the Palace from the Monte Carlo Casino or from Place d'Armes - try to poke PART of the climbing stairway (now, leading from the Palace down to the Place d'Armes). With your face to the palace - take the lane on the right side of the palace - leading downward (north-east).
The stairway between Place d'Armes and Prince's Palace of Monaco:
Not far from the beginning of this stairway - you'll see Statue of Prince Rainier III, Prince of Monaco:
We have 350 m. walk to the next site of Saint Martin Gardens. With your back to the palace we take the lane (starting with stairs downward) to your right. Here, you follow ONE OF THE MOST SCENIC WALKING PATHS IN EUROPE. Just follow the signs of the Oceanographic Museum. It takes you to Saint Martin Gardens, the Cathedral, eventually through some more public gardens to the Oceanographic Museum. From the Prince's Palace of Monaco head south on Place du Palais, 30 m. Turn right toward Ruelle Sainte-Barbe and immediately left onto Ruelle Sainte-Barbe, 300 m. BREATHTAKING VIEWS OF Port Hercule, Port de Fontvieille and Port de Cap d'Ail along Ruelle Sainte-Barbe:
Actually, we stand in a small garden (overlooking the Fontvieille and Hercule ports) with several sculptures: Fille sur chaise and Grand Nudo di Adolscente:
Ruelle Sainte-Barbe continues eastward as Promenade Saint-Martin. Here is house in #3:
Turn your head back to get a glimpse of the Prince's Palace of Monaco rock:
Turn your head to the right (south) to get a glimpse Hercule Port:
On our left (north) is the Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The entrance is from 4 Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), also known as Saint Nicholas Cathedral (name of the old church which was demolished in 1874), or Monaco Cathedral (Cathédrale de Monaco), is the cathedral of Monaco-Ville, where many of the Grimaldis were buried, including Grace Kelly and more recently, Prince Rainier III (fathers of the present sovereign, Albert II). There are also the tombs of older generation Grimaldi Princes buried here as well. A beautiful church. Atmospheric, quiet and contemplative inside. The cathedral was built in 1875-1903 and consecrated in 1911, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. Of note are the Retable (circa 1500) to the right of the transept, the Great Altar and the Episcopal throne in white Carrara marble. On feast days and during religious music concerts, one can hear the magnificent four-keyboard organ, inaugurated in 1976. From September through June, “Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco” (The Little Singers of Monaco) and the singers of the Cathedral Choir School sing during mass every Sunday at 10.00. Mass is also celebrated here each year on 6 December, when primary children gather for a joyful remembrance of St. Nicholas' life. It is free to enter:
Monaco cathedral Interior:
Retable de St. Nicholas:
Prince Albert 1st (1er) Tomb:
Princess Florestan Tomb:
Princess Grace Tomb:
Prince Rainier III Tomb:
Inside the Monaco-Ville Cathedral you can see pictures of other figures of the royal dynasty - on their tombs:
A bit WEST to the Cathedral resides the Palais de Justice. This Palace was built in 1924, on the initiative of Prince Louis II and inaugurated on May 1st 1930. It is built out of sea tuff, a grey and porous stone, which was also used for Monaco's ramparts. This stone contains many small pebbles, and sometimes mollusc shells. The bust of the Sovereign Honoré II, dated 1568, appears on one of the Palace façades:
View of Hercule Port from the Promenade Saint-Martin:
Saint-Martin Gardens are between Avenue Saint-Martin (north) and the Promenade Saint-Martin (south) and the ocean (east). The gardens extend from the cathedral to the Oceanographic Museum. Part botanical garden, part sculpture garden and all beautiful, the Jardins Saint Martin is a delight to explore. These gardens, with a rich display of exotic species and where small paths weave gently around the grassy ridges, bloom throughout the year on the south-west face of the "Rock". The sunny Mediterranean climate provides a thriving environment for the wild local flora and scattered here and there, classic works of art (mainly, sculptures) or a clear little pond may be discovered. The first sculpture, on the main path, on your right is of Prince Albert I from 1951. This is Francois Cogne's bronze statue of Prince Albert I as a sailor which stands at the centre of the gardens: the man with the wheel in his hands, as once on command, during one of his cruises, Prince Albert I, the ruler of Monaco to the mid-twentieth century, unusually devoted to navigation oceanography, standing here, in the garden of St. Martin. Most of the trees bear signage with their Latin and popular names. Flora include ancient olive trees, philodendrons, birds of paradise, aleppo pine trees and yellow agaves. Free entrance. Very clean restrooms:
The Oceanographic Museum viewed from Jardins Saint Martin with Cap Martin in the distance:
Leave the Saint-Martin Gardens from northeast exit on Avenue Saint-Martin. Turn right and continue 170 m. north-east along Avenue Saint-Martin to the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. The Museum is open every day (Except for the week-end of the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the 25th December). JAN - MAR 10.00 - 18.00, APR - JUN 10.00- 19.00. JUL - AUG 9.30 - 20.00. SEP 10.00 - 19.00. OCT - DEC 10.00 - 18.00. Prices (Aquariums, permanent and temporary exhibitions): Adults € 14.00, Children (4 - 12 years) € 7.00, Teenagers / Students (13 - 18 years) € 10.00, People with reduced mobility (adults and children) € 7.00, Children under 4 Free. Combined Ticket : Oceanarium + Palace: Adults 19,00 €, Students 11,00€, Teenagers (13 - 18 years) 11,00€, Children (8 - 12 years) 9,00€, Children (4 - 7 years) 7,00€. The building itself is pretty amazing and beautiful. Multi colored fish, turtles, sharks. The Terrace cafe-restaurant at the top floor of the building nice snacks and light meals and drinks (NOT expensive) and 320 degrees breath-taking view of the sea. The museum is very busy in the first half of the days. Better, come during late afternoon hours. Try to avoid in weekends in the high season. Not all the halls and rooms are Air-conditioned:
A detour to Fort Antoine: with our back to the Musée Océanographique de Monaco we turn right (north-east) along Avenue saint-Martin and after approx. 30 m. we turn again right (south-east) and follow many zig-zaging stairs downward (follow the signs !) to the Fort Antoine Theatre. The Fort Antoine Theatre is a small amphitheatre located at the tip of the Rock. The fort hosts open air plays in the summer months. The theatre was originally constructed as a fortress in the early 18th-century before its destruction in 1944. Prince Rainier III had the fortress rebuilt as a theatre in 1953. Its military architecture, watchtower and the almost total solitude which can be found there, all combine to give it a particular charm. Its stage has been pleasantly arranged with a pyramid of cannon balls at its centre. Magnificent views of the bay, a wide variety of yachts in the port. An unforgettable experience in a clear day:
From Fort Antoine we walk west on Avenue de la Quarantaine
700 m down to the Place d'Armes. Head west on Avenue de la Quarantaine, 400 m. Slight left toward Avenue du Port, 50 m. Continue onto Avenue du Port, 180 m. Turn right onto Place d'Armes, 60 m. Place d’Armes is the central market square within easy downhill access from the train station (turn right when exiting the train from Nice towards the “Fontvieille” exit” and go through the tunnel with travellators then follow the signposts and the crowds of people). The typically “Provençal” (ie. slightly overpriced but with lots of good quality “Mediterranean” produce) market is open every morning until around 12.00, so could be worth a quick stopover to have a nice coffee or to grab a snack – there are several reasonable places inside, including one selling “socca”, a typical regional pancake made of chickpea flour. The Place d’Armes is also a great place for people-watching and to see real Monegasque locals going about their daily business (quite a feat especially in the summer), and where most gossip is exchanged about what is going on in town:
At the far end of Place d'Armes, you'll find this charming fountain:
Looking up from the Place d’Armes, you can already notice the fortifications protecting the Prince’s Palace on the side of the Rocher, notably the Bastion de Serravalle, which dominates the street, as well as the elegant Italianate porticoes of the Palace itself and the fake-medieval clock tower, which was in fact built in the 19th century to look old.
From the Place d'Armes you can easily take bus no. 100 back to Nice (last bus is around 20.00 !!). or continue walking to Quai Rainier III (1.1 km.) (there, catching a boat to Monte-Carlo and returning to Nice with a train. Head south on Place d'Armes toward Avenue du Port, 60 m. Turn left onto Avenue du Port, 190 m. Keep right to continue toward Quai Antoine 1er, 30 m. Turn right toward Quai Antoine 1er, 50 m. Turn left onto Quai Antoine 1er, 65 m. Turn right to stay on Quai Antoine 1er, 300 m. Turn left to stay on Quai Antoine 1er, 190 m. Turn left onto Quai Rainier III, 180 m. Before taking the boat from Quai Rainier I - I advise you to take an hour and stroll around the port. Beautiful place to take some pictures and see the mega yachts going in and out. Maybe a good bet at the Casino will help you to buy one for yourself. It's easy to daydream about what life would be like...It's possible to walk very close to them and see the rich decoration inside. The boats are amazing to look at. Plenty of restaurants for food & drink if you need to relax for a while. Here, we use the Bateau Bus to cross the harbour towards Monte-Carlo and then take the public lift up to the Casino. The bus boat crosses the port from Quai Rainier III till Quai des Etats-Unis in Monte Carlo between 08.00 till 20.00. It takes 10 minutes to cross the bay. Price: 2 euros. Wonderful views of the harbour for the price of a bus ride. Frequency: 7 days 7, from 08.00 - 20.00 with departures every half hour on each bank (forward three starts per hour are planned) . Boat Length : 12 m. Capacity: 50 people. Free connection with the bus network in the half hour after boat ride:
Our last destination is the Jardin Exotique. It is 3.5 km. walk. Too much for the end of the day. We leave this fantastic garden for another half-a-day visit (see a separate blog).