Monaco: 5th February 2023

WHERE IS MONACO? Monaco is on the French Riviera quite close to the Italian border and is one of 24 recognised microstates in the world (i.e. a sovereign state where the population and/or land mass is very small).   

WHAT LANGUAGES  ARE SPOKEN THERE AND WHAT'S THE CURRENCY? The official language is French and the Euro is the currency.

3 INTERESTING FACTS: 1) Monaco is the world's 2nd smallest country after the Vatican City and in fact it's smaller than New York's Central Park. 2) It's not part of the European Union. 3) Whilst around one third of its residents are thought to be millionnaires, its own citizens aren't permitted to enter its casinos.  

HOW TO GET THERE? So, I visited Monaco as part of a day trip from Gatwick Airport where I took the first flight there and the last flight back. The easiest way to get to Monaco is via the French city of Nice. When you leave the airport, you'll see the coach station right outside and you need platform 1. I have to say that the number 100 bus was really comfortable and the journey took around 30 minutes as I decided to get off at the tourist office.

WHAT DID I DO AND WHAT DID I THINK? My main objective was to visit Casino de Monte Carlo knowing that it'd featured in various films including a few James Bond ones. Before 1pm, you can enter the casino's lobby for free and whilst you may not get the chance to place a bet as the casino halls are still closed, even the lobby is lavish and quite something to admire. The area has top hotels and restaurants and there's a surprising amount of greenery despite being a very densely populated city. But what stood out most was the cars. Oh my word! If you like cars, you'll see constant streams of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc. where I get a big part of being in Monaco is about being seen. And if you love Formula 1, spotting the famous hairpin bend is a must which you'll find to the east of the casino - about a 5 minute walk away. It’s a very hilly place so the hop-on hop-off bus is great for getting around and visit places like the palaces. The weather turned so I headed to the aquarium which was impressive.

Would I go again? No, I think going once was great but I think the main attractions are the casinos, cars and the shopping.