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Monaco Harbor

I hadn’t been to Monaco in over 30 years, so I didn’t have many memories of it, other than this feeling that it was only for the wealthy and perhaps a bit pretentious. Well, we actually very much enjoyed Monaco. Visiting during low season (November)  is nice, but I’m sure the streets are just packed during the summer months. Although Monaco is very much over-built with high-rise condominium projects surrounding it, the downtown area has some wonderful architecture, making up for it. And on the “the Rock” where the palace is situated and the old part of Monaco, it is extremely pleasant, especially the garden areas and the views that follow along the cliffs looking out over the Med.

Wikipedia has some very interesting statistics about Monaco, and the history of the House of Grimaldi is fascinating.

  • Monaco boasts the world’s highest GDP nominal per capita at $153,177,GDP PPP per capita at $132,571, and GNI per capita at $183,150.
  • Monaco also has the world’s highest life expectancy at nearly 90 years, and the lowest unemployment rate at 0%, with over 48,000 workers who commute from France and Italy each day.
  • For the third year in a row, Monaco in 2011 had the world’s most expensive real estate market, at $65,600 per square meter.
  • According to the CIA World Factbook, Monaco has the world’s lowest poverty rate, and the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world.

We didn’t plan to go to Monaco, it just ended up being the end destination for a coastal walk we’ve been wanting to take. It’s part of the Sentier system of coastal walkways in France, and this particular one began for us in Mala, a few miles west of Monaco.

To do this walk, take the #100 bus from Nice and get off in Cap d’Ail, at the stop  “Edmond’s Cap d’Ail” (or the one just after “Deux Tunnels” – someone told me the name may be different now). At this stop, take the street Av. Charles Blanc down until to you come to the Parc Sacha Guitry, which you should walk through, (lovely park) until you come to Av. Raymond Gramaglia. Turn right and at the end of this street you’ll find a pathway down to the sentier coastal walk. Turn left on the walkway and follow it to Monaco. There’s a few places set up for picnics if you want to pack a lunch, as well as at least one restaurant.

If you prefer the train, it actually is even easier, as the stop is right by the sentier pathway. Exit the train station on to Av. de la Gare, and walk up it a ways and you’ll see an underpass you can take to get down to the beach. It enters onto Av. Gramaglia, and you’ll find an entrance down to the pathway from here.

In Monaco you can continue the walk by walking around the Port du Cap d’Ail and then past the Heli Pad to the Port du Fontvieille. It will eventually lead into town, but you’ll have to take some stairs or escalators to get there. Once in town, continue up to where the Royal Palace is. There’s a beautiful walk around the point, through gardens with multiple scenic viewpoints. You can continue heading east, down to the Port du Monaco, eventually making your way to the bus stop for #100 back to Nice, right in front of the bus station where Bd. Prince Albert 1, rue Grimaldi and Av. John F. Kennedy intersect.

Our favorite part of Monaco is the “Rock”; the gardens and walkway around the rock are especially very impressive. Be sure to leave to leave time to take this in at your leisure.