Number of adults: 3
Number of children: 1
The number of single people: 1. That’s me.
That was our travel group.
On my recent travels to Basel, Switzerland, my sister, Pragati and brother-in-law were kind enough to organize a trip without me saying it.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to The French Riviera?!?
My second weekend in Europe started with packing a smaller bag. Flip-flops, sunscreen, fedora—this time I was packing for the Meditteranean Sea. Evening came and we boarded a rather bumpy flight to Nice from Basel.
A 50-minute flight later, we arrived at Nice Cote D’Azur International Airport. There were no celebrity sightings but what I did spot was a difference in demeanour and attitude. A signature moustache, a string of pearls, manicured hands and uncountable designer brands made it obvious we were in France. Unlike the Swiss, French women are very glamorous when it comes to their ensemble. Be it their makeup or their stateliness, for that matter, they had no qualms in showing they didn’t belong here.
Surprised to see it rains in Nice, we took an Uber to our AirBnB apartment in Parc Imperial – Le Piol. A two bedroom Nicoise house located in a residential area, the apartment was newly renovated and in a word—beautiful. Apart from the shower cabinet which was too small for me, the apartment was both aesthetically appealing and functional.
The master bedroom has a queen size bed, complete wardrobe and dresser. The kids’ room had two bunk beds and a chest full of toys, books and travel brochures helpful to anybody renting the apartment. The only thing you need to remember is that this is not in Old Town—or near Promenade Anglais so you will have to take the bus to get to the main action.
After scoping the house and a quick dinner, we went to sleep ready to explore Monaco.
Day 1: His Highness, Monaco
I honestly can’t describe what it felt like waking up to look at the endless blue waters of Mediterranean Sea. I think that’s the moment you realize you’re in a place you’ve been hearing about for years. Since we didn’t want my sister to cook and make it to the bus on time, we decided to head out of the house. After figuring out that we have an hour for our bus to Monte Carlo, we found a cosy little café that served us great crepes, pasta and sausage in Rue De Barla.
TIP: Since the bus cost is a mere 1.50 euros, the bus is always full so try to catch it from where it starts.
Monaco takes about 60 minutes from Nice on the bus. Since it was September, there wasn’t too much traffic but a lot of people have written about the routes being blocked for hours. The bus ride offers great views of the Sea as well as an insight into the quiet life the villagers live.
We got dropped off in the small yet uber luxurious area of Monte Carlo. Now my brother-in-law was extremely disappointed to see buildings taking over the skyline but for a city girl like me, it was amazing.
We started walking along Cere D’Or Monaco which is literally a circular dome filled with designer boutiques and French brands. We then went to one of the biggest tourist spots: Casino Royale, Monte Carlo. The streets were lined with hundreds of tourists grabbing lunch and watching the rich and famous get off their Lamborghinis and head to the biggest betting tables in the world.
The casino was lined with Rolls Royce and Bentleys of the world with men speeding out straight of a GQ magazine—only they weren’t models. And they had money. You can buy a 10 euro ticket and go inside but none of us wanted to feel more out of place—and was pretty sure we’d spend our entire holiday budget in one game of Blackjack.
We continued to walk across the harbour and pretty much covered all of Monte Carlo by foot. Walking along Port Hercule and yacht watching at La Condamine was a bittersweet experience. It also made me realize just how different life can be. A ten-minute boat ride later, we arrived in Monaco, the city. With beautiful motorboats and yachts up for rent, a walk on the harbour is a must.
To tell you the truth, the weather was quite cold since the sun wasn’t out and we decided not to go to the beach which I regret in hindsight. After being super tired and walking out for 10 kilometres, we headed up a small path that took us to Prince’s Palace built by Grimaldi’s back in 1192.
Not only is it the official residence of the royal family but also a well-known viewing point in Monaco.
The Palace offers panoramic views of the city from all four sides. It also has a café, restaurant so you can either walk it up or take a tour depending on your interest and time.
One of the highlights that we missed from our trip was chilling on Larvoto beach because of the weather. So pick a good, sunny day and make most of the beach time.
By the time, we walked down we were pretty spent and decided to eat at a small café while waiting for the bus. To be truthful, I have nothing good to say about it so I’ll skip it.
We soon decided to head back to Nice for the evenings and enjoyed a few more views on Promenade Anglais.
How To Get to Monaco
Take Bus 100 from Nice. There are frequent trains from Nice to Monte Carlo. You can also rent a car if you have an international license.
Things To See in Monaco
Casino Royale and Casino Square
Princess Grace Rose Gardens (great for photoshoots)
Monaco Grand Prix (May)
Monte Carlo beach
Things to keep in mind when visiting Monaco
It’s the city of the rich and the famous. You will feel bad about your life but you made it to Monte Carlo, so you’re doing OK!
You’ll like this city if you appreciate luxury; if you prefer villages or small towns, you may not like it.
Go to Eze or Menton since they both are in the same direction as Monaco.
All photos shot on iPhone6S. Stay tuned to our travel diaries to Cannes, Nice and Villefranche Sur-Mer.
Have you been to Monaco? Drop a line in the comments’ section.