Enjoying the magic of Monte Carlo

Reader's Digest Editors

Is there is a more iconic venue in all of Europe – perhaps even the world – than Monte Carlo? The very words send a shiver down the spine and conjure images of the rich, famous and fabulous. In the 1950s, it was all about Grace Kelly, who fulfilled every girl’s dream, achieving Hollywood fame, meeting a handsome prince and becoming a princess herself, all before her 27th birthday.

Throughout the 60s and 70s, James Bond types made Casino Square their home. And today, a new generation of stars from super rich Formula One millionaires like Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen to here-today-gone-tomorrow reality TV sensations line the streets of Monte.

The film and TV representation of Monte Carlo might make it look like a playground for the rich and famous. To some extent, that’s exactly what it is, but that doesn’t prevent mere mortals from enjoying a weekend of its magic. Here are some must-dos in Monte.

Casino Square

Mention Monte Carlo, and the first thing you think of is the casino. It has featured in numerous movies – most famously Casino Royale, the original James Bond tale – and stands overlooking Casino Square in the centre of the city. If you’ve never been to a casino before, this is the place to start! Soak up the atmosphere, and if you want to try out some of the games, there are plenty of opportunities to practice online first. The list at https://www.top10-casinosites.net/ gives a run down of the pros and cons of some of the most popular online sites and is a good resource to help you choose. Once you’ve explored the casino, the square itself has a choice of cafes where you can sit outside and indulge in some people-watching. Fans of supercars will be dribbling into their coffee as the watch the seemingly endless parade of Ferraris, Maseratis and Bentleys going by.

The Clifftop Garden

With the supercars and the Formula One connections, you might think Monte Carlo is all about burning oil. Visit the Clifftop Gardens and you will get another perspective. As well as providing an oasis of peace, you get a first class view of the harbour, and you will see there is more to it than the multi million pound yachts. There are a host of eco-schemes in place that have been introduced by Monaco’s current ruler, Prince Albert. You can read more about them at his Foundation website.

The Prince’s Palace

All Prince Albert’s good work might inspire you to go and shake him by the hand – there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to do that, but you can at least call in at his home on the off chance. Time your visit to watch the changing of the guard at 11:55 – if you’ve stood outside Buckingham Palace, you know what to expect. The state rooms are spectacular, and tickets are less than €10, so don’t miss it.

Oceanographic Museum

Prince Albert I, the current incumbent’s great-great grandfather was a prolific explorer, and the Oceanographic Museum contains the fruits of his many voyages. The exhibits include a whale’s skeleton, while the aquarium is acknowledged as one of the best in Europe. There are plenty of interactive things for the kids to do, too, so this is well worth an afternoon.