The epitome of glamour and wealth, the European Principality of Monaco is a haven for the rich and famous. Monaco travel is best known for its famed Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, the Monaco Grand Prix held annually in May, when Formula One cars speed through the narrow, winding streets attracting thousands of spectators and the dazzling lives of the Grimaldis, its reigning royal family for more than 700 years. This monarchial dynasty parallels with the Monaco’s existence. Prince Rainier III took the throne in 1949 and captured the world’s attention with his fairytale marriage to actress Grace Kelly. His son inherited the throne upon his death in 2005 and carries out the legacy.
Measuring less than one square mile, Monaco is the second smallest independent state in the world after the Vatican. Monaco is rimmed by the Alpes-Maritimes foothills, which create a natural amphitheater overlooking its ribbon of Mediterranean coastline below known as the Côte d’Azur. Surrounded by France on three sides, French is the official language and there are no border formalities. Monaco is perfectly situated for exploring the French and Italian Rivera’s.
Pedestrians exploring this terraced town must climb steep steps, pass through marble corridors that tunnel through rocks and use public elevators operating between the hillside and the harbor, which contains an armada of luxury yachts. There are four districts. Monaco-Ville is perched on the famous Rock (Old Town), a craggy promontory with medieval houses, vaulted passageways and clean streets, converging at Prince’s Palace Square, home of the Grimaldis.
The Old Town also has museums, boutiques, fountained parks and cafes. The glittering casinos, game rooms and luxury hotels (including the famous Hôtel de Paris) can be found in the famous Golden Square quarter. The Grand Casino is linked to the gilded opera house, offering ballet, opera and music performances in winter. Monte Carlo Bord de Mer has the main public beach, Larvotto, and attractions in waterfront Fontvieille include the Princess Grace Rose Garden.