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One Day in MonacoJune 10, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent
Monaco is the ideal location for a pre- or post-Mediterranean cruise visit
Ordinarily, it would be almost impossible for your clients to tour an entire country in a day but not Monaco, the size of a small U.S. city. We asked Consulate General of Monaco’s Elle Berdy what she would do with a single day to spend in the world’s second-smallest independent state.
First of all, Berdy suggests taking the Azur Express Tourist Train to get acquainted with the landscape. “It’s trés touristy,” she acknowledges, “but it’s a good and quick way to see the Principality.”
Where to Stay
If your client’s visit to Monaco includes an overnight stay, suggest one of the properties in the Monte-Carlo SBM collection.
The grand dame of the collection, Hotel de Paris, is on Monaco’s Casino Square. (Fun fact: Princess Grace and Prince Rainier celebrated their wedding reception there.) Hotel Hermitage, on the other hand, is cool and sophisticated and a little more laid-back. Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort is encircled by a sand-bottomed lagoon. (The double-double rooms are good for families, we hear.)
The Beach Hotel has a Beach Club, Olympic-size pools, cabanas and three La Prairie spa beach bungalows. This Art Deco hotel was totally reconstructed and reopened in May. It has just been granted a fifth star (one of the first in the Principality) and named a Relais & Chateaux hotel. (We hear the royal family likes to hang out here in the summer.) Travel agents can contact Bernadette Skubly Butts ([email protected]) with any questions.
What to Do
Berdy suggests the following itinerary to pass on to your clients for their day in Monaco:
8 a.m.: Put on a comfortable pair of shoes and walk up to Monaco-ville, a district on what is locally known as le Rocher (“the rock”), the address of the Prince’s Palace. During the summer months, visit the Palace along with the Museum of Napoleonic Souvenirs and the Palace’s Archives. Then head over to the nearby Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, which is celebrating its centenary this year. “It’s stunning even if you’re not a ‘fish’ person,” Berdy says, “and if you’re a quick study, you can take in everything in 30-45 minutes.” Famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau ran the museum for years.
10 a.m.: Trek up a small alley to the Place de la Visitation and the Chocolaterie de Monaco, the country’s very own chocolate “factory,” which is actually a charming tea and coffee shop that sells locally produced chocolates and snacks.
10:45 a.m.: Explore one of the museums in Monaco-ville—perhaps the Prince of Monaco’s Private Collection of Classic Cars (a museum set up by Prince Rainier), the Museum of Stamps and Coins, the Naval Museum or the mini-zoo right in the heart of Monaco.
11:55 a.m.: Head back to the Palace for the daily changing of the guards. “Not as big as Buckingham Palace, but very interesting!” Berdy says.
Noon: After all this you’ll be ready for lunch at Métropole, the Joel Robuchon restaurant with two Michelin stars. “It needn’t be a heavy lunch, but it will be memorable,” Berdy says. “If you just want a light snack, then Café de Paris across from the Casino—and opposite the Hotel de Paris—always serves good food, but it may be packed.”
2 p.m.: Take a stroll down toward the water and seek out the Japanese Gardens for some quiet contemplation. Almost opposite is a brand-new museum, the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, which has a “charming garden” setting. (Regular exhibits complement the Garnier-designed villas.)
3 p.m.: One may well need to rest for a bit and unwind after all that walking, so check into one of Monaco’s therapeutic spas. The Fairmont Monte-Carlo’s Willow Stream Spa has some lovely signature therapies, including treatments that incorporate seawater and mineral-rich seaweeds.
4:30 p.m.: Go for a walk along the port of Monaco and harbor (past the ultra luxe yachts and boats), up the promenade toward the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo and the Monte-Carlo Opera House—which share a building. Step inside and watch the evening descend from the surrounding lush gardens and terraces.
5 p.m.: It’s time to check out the iconic Casino that made Monaco legendary as a playground for the uber-rich. There are also four other casinos where visitors can play, dance, dine or do whatever else they want to do well into the night. Note: You’ll need your passport to get in, and be sure to check up on dress code and opening hours.