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Introduction to Monaco The Principality of Monaco is a constitutional monarchy located along the French Riviera, near the Italian border. Monaco is the name of the country and the capital city (the only city in Monaco). It is comprised of five main areas, the largest of which is Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo is the pinnacle of elegance, luxury and nightlife (including high stakes... [Read the full story]
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Roughly .75-square miles, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, with a total population of 31,000. Located on the French Riviera, Monaco is bordered by France, where the Alpes Maritimes region of France meets the Mediterranean Sea. The country is literally cradled in steep mountainous slopes that sink into the sea. Monaco is home to gamblers, sunbathers, and some of the world’s wealthiest people. It is a Tax Haven with highly secretive banks. Here are tips to help guide you on your trip to Monaco.
Monaco’s two most important attractions, other than the beach, are the Monte-Carlo Casino and the Monaco Grand Prix. The Monte-Carlo Casino, one of the most prestigious casinos in the entire world, is just as grand as one might expect, with stained-glass skylights, marble columns, and crystal chandeliers. You can visit without gambling, though there’s an admission fee and a dress code (no shorts or flip flops). A complete list of dress requirements can be found on the Monte-Carlo website.
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the three most important automobile races in the world and usually, but not always, takes place during the third or fourth week in May.
Monaco’s other important sights include the Jardin Exotique, a garden filled with exotic plants; the Oceanographic Museum, home to loads of sea creatures as well as antique boats; Monaco-Ville, which is the oldest part of Monaco, filled with winding streets; and the Prince’s Palace, from which the royal Grimaldi family rules Monaco. You can tour the palace with an appointment or simply watch the daily changing of the guard.
The nearest airport is Côte-d'Azur International, located 25 miles away in Nice, France. From there, you can take a bus, helicopter, taxi, train, or rental car to Monaco. If you rent a car, note that it is very hard to find street parking in Monaco. If arriving by boat, Monaco’s two ports are the Port Hercule, which is the main port, and the Port of Fontvieille.
No border control exists between France and Monaco. The official currency is the Euro. The official language is French, but the official language of the people is Monégasque, which shares many of the characteristics of the dialect spoken in the nearby Italian region of Liguria. English is widely spoken. The best way to get around is by foot, and the free public elevators, which are built right into the cliffs, save your legs from all the stairs. And the smallest country in the world? It’s the Vatican.