Monaco is a sovereign micro-state with a population of around 37 500 residents. The principality has been ruled by the Grimaldi family since François Grimaldi took over the fortified castle by deception in 1297 (IMSEE Monaco Statistics) .
Disguised as Franciscan monk, François also known as “Malizia” (“the Cunning”), deceived the guards at the fortress gate and together with his cousin Rainier I and a small group of man took control. The daring victory is celebrated in Monaco’s coat of arms which bears two monks with swords. “Centuries of scandal, years of grace”- if you are curious to learn more you should look at “Grimaldis of Monaco” by Anne Edwards.
The city-state is in fact a tax paradise and this has attracted the rich and famous. Royal family members, athletes, F1 drivers and famous actors are among its citizens.
1. Visit Monte Carlo Casino - If you want to feel like you are in a James Bond movie, then you should take a stroll to the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo Casino. The casino appeared in the "Never Say Never Again" and "Goldeneye" and in fact has been depicted in Ian Fleming’s "Casino Royale" book.
All this glamour may make you feel like you need to need too deplete your savings account or metaphorically speaking part with a kidney should you chose to visit. However, this is not the case. To begin with explore the adjacent square and admire the neatly maintained garden in front of the main entrance. Next, feel free to walk into the main lobby area and get a feel for the ambiance inside.
If the grand décor of the lobby takes the best of you and you are curious to see the actual gaming area you can do so by paying a small entrance fee of 10 euro. You aren’t obliged to gamble once inside, so it is up to you to choose whether you feel like testing your luck. Keeping your kidneys and savings in good shape should be a priority though!
2. Admire some of the best and rarest vehicles that man has ever made - Luxury cars, unique and custom editions- it is likely that you will see some when in Monaco. Yes, I know it’s always better if you are behind the wheel, but how often can you see a Bugatti Veyron or even some retro ultra-rare models.
3. Top up your vitamin D levels at Lavrotto Beach - A few minutes’ walk from Monte-Carlo and you will reach Larvotto Beach, which is also open to the public. Bear in mind that the beach is small, but the water is crystal clear and calm. Larvotto can easily get overcrowded, so plan ahead if you want to claim a good spot.
4. Explore the F1 Track - Those who enjoy watching and follow Formula 1 can drive the “Circuit de Monaco” route and with a bit more imagination and hopefully accompanied by some serious horsepower can get a real taste for this high speed and adrenaline sport. In case you don’t have a car, you can always walk along the route.
5. Take a walk to the Prince’s Palace - Head to the Prince’s Palace and climb the steep stairs so you can admire some marvellous views over the marina and the surrounding landscape. Do it at your own pace as it takes a while, but trust me it is worth it!
6. Watch the Guards Change - Once you have taken that walk all the way up to the Prince’s Palace, you can take advantage of your legwork and watch the traditional ritual of changing of the Guard- Carabiniers du Prince. Time your visit as this ritual takes place 5 minutes before noon precisely. In case you wish to research further do have a look at the official web site of Monaco.