Weekend in Monaco
The last time I visited Monaco it was on a motorbike, so I was hoping this Weekend in Monaco, courtesy of Kirker Holidays, would be a bit more salubrious. I could not have hoped for a better start than the transfer from Nice Cote d’Azur airport to Monaco, a seven minuet flight by *helicopter along the sparkling blue coast, we had arrived!
We were staying at the Columbus Monte Carlo a stylish boutique hotel, which is currently being upgraded and due to be completed in April 2018. it is located in the quiet harbour district of Fontvielle, a very short taxi ride from the heliport.
Our Kirker wallet included lots of information about the destination including a map and vouchers with the ‘Monaco Passport’ offering free entry into several must see attractions:
- State Apartments of the Prince’s Palace (April to October)
- Museum of Napoleonic Souvenirs & Collection of the Palace’s Historic Archives (closed November)
- Oceanographic Museum & Aquarium
- Exotic Gardens, Observatory Caves & Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology
- Villa Sauber, the New National Museum of Monaco
- Classic Car Collection of HSH The Prince of Monaco
- The Naval Museum
After checking in we set out to explore. We were close to the Classic Car Collection, so we made this our first stop. There were loads of vintage and classic racing cars, but I was more interested to see the car used by Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘To catch a Thief’ a 1954 Sunbeam Alpine and this quaint 1959 Fiat with its groovy wicker seats, tres chic!From here we walked to the Rock and the old town of Monaco Ville with its narrow alleyways, shops and restaurants. From here you have panoramic views and it is a great vantage point for taking photos over Monaco. Every day at the Palais de Justice you can witness the changing of the guard in front of the palace, all the tourists gather here to take photos. The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium in Monaco Ville appears to grown out of the rock. The museum itself is part of the Oceanographic Institute and is dedicated to sharing its knowledge of the oceans. We stopped for lunch in Monaco Ville and then walked back to our hotel.We found our way over to Monte Carlo for more sight-seeing the next day. We walked through gardens towards the sea front overlooking the Mediterranean. Here we found the magnificent Monte Carlo Opera House and Casino which were built in 1893 by the architect Charles Garnier, who also built the Paris Opera House. Amazing architecture with marbled paved atrium and onyx columns.
A little further on and we came to the Fairmont Monte Carlo where we enjoyed a coffee at Saphir 24 overlooking the sea. This is the hotel to stay at for the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix , with it’s iconic location right on the hair pin bend!
From here back to our hotel, then we set out to find the Exotic Gardens. Monaco is easy to navigate with walkways, escalators and lifts to help you get around avoiding having to cross the road. We made our way up to the Jardin Exotique from where there are panoramic views across the Bay of Monaco as far as Italy. The gardens themselves cling to the cliff face and paths wind down the mountainside with mature succulent and cacti incorporated into the rock, looking completely at home in the Mediterranean setting.In the same location as the garden is the Observatory Cave or ‘Grotto’. Your guide will lead you down 300 steps into the depths of the mountain, but rather then getting colder, it seemed to increase in heat and humidity. 60 metres below ground the steps open out into a prehistoric cave where you can marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millions of years. Some of the formations look like molten wax and if you tap some of the hanging rocks they sound like chimes, very eerie. 300 steps back up again and then another climb uphill to exit the gardens, you will certainly need good walking shoes.Back to our hotel for a well earned rest and then out to dinner. The Columbus hotel is near the harbour, so we walked to a lovely Italian restaurant for dinner.Monaco is home to more millionaires per square mile than any other place on earth, but you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy a civilised short city break to this destination. And with 300 days of sunshine a year, you can make a winter Weekend in Monaco a very enjoyable city break. For more details or prices please call us on 01932 866565 or email.
Other properties include:
*Complimentary return helicopter transfers for Kirker clients between Nice and Monaco between 2 January and 31 March and 1 November to 31 December (excluding Christmas Day)
- Return flights
- Return car transfers (helicopter transfers Nov-Mar)
- Accommodation including breakfast
- The Monaco Passport
- The services of the Kirker Concierge
- Kirker’s Guide Notes to restaurants, museum and sightseeing