MONACO AND MONTE-CARLO
Monaco (pop. 7,200) has money lots of it invested in ubiquitous surveillance cameras, high-speed luxury cars, and sleek yachts. At Monaco’s spiritual heart is its famous casino in Monte-Carlo, a magnet for the wealthy and dissolute since 1885. The sheer spectacle of it all is worth a daytrip from Nice.
TRANSPORTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION. Trains run to: Antibes (lhr. every 30min. ‚7); Cannes (65min. every 30min. ‚7); and Nice (25min. every 30min. ‚3). Buses ( 9:3 85 61 81) leave av Princesse Alice, near the tourist office, for Nice (45min. every 15min. ‚3.70). Follow the signs in the new train station for Le Eocher and Fontvieille to the avenue Prince Pierre exit; it’s close to La Condamine quarter, Monaco’s port, which has a morning market and cafes. To the right of La Condamine rises the vieille ville, Monaco-Ville. Leaving the train station onto bd. Princess Charlotte or pl. St-Devote leads to Monte-Carlo and the casino. Bus #4 links the train station to the casino in Monte-Carlo; buy tickets on board. ( ‚1.40, ‚3.30 for a carte of 4). At the tourist office, 2a bd. des Moulins, a friendly, English-speaking staff provides city plans, an events guide, and hotel reservations free of charge. (92 16 61 16; www.monaco-congres.com. Open M-Sa 9am-7pm, Su lOam-noon.) Access the Internet at Stars ‘N’ Bars, 6 quai Antoine ler. (‚5 per 30min. Open daily 10am-midnight.) Postal Code: 06500.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD. There’s no need to stay in Monaco, since it is easily accessible from nearby (and less expensive) coastal towns. Beau-soleil, in France, has several reasonable options and is a 5min. walk from the beach or lOmin. from the casino. H6tel Diana , 17 bd. du General Leclerc, has clean rooms. ( 04 93 78 47 58; www.monte-carlo.mchotel-diana-beausoleil. Singles ‚32; doubles ‚55; triples ‚63. AmexMCV.) Not surprisingly, Monaco has little budget fare. Fill a picnic basket at the fruit and flower market on pl. d’Armes at the end of av. Prince Pierre (open daily 6am-lpm), or atthe huge Carrefour in Fontvieille’s shopping plaza (s 92 05 57 00; open M-Sa 8:30am-10pm).
SIGHTS AND ENTERTAINMENT. The extravagant Monte-Carlo Casino, at de Casino, is where Richard Burton wooed Elizabeth Taylor and Mata Hari shot a Russian spy. The slot machines open at 2pm, while blackjack, craps, and roulette open at noon (cover ‚10). The exclusive salons prives, where such French games as chemin defer and trente et quarante begin at noon, will cost you an extra ‚10 cover. Next door, the more relaxed Cafe de Paris opens at 10am and has no cover. All casinos have dress codes (no shorts, sneakers, sandals, or jeans), and the salons prives require coat and tie. Guards are strict about the 21 age minimum; bring a passport as proof. High above the casino is the Palais Princier, the occasional home of Prince Rainier and his tabloid-darling family. When the flag is down, the prince is away and visitors can tour the small but lavish palace, which includes Princess Grace’s official state portrait and the chamber where England’s King George III died. (93 25 18 31. Open June-Sept. 9:30am-6:20pm; Oct. 10am-5pm. ‚6, students ‚3.) Next door, the Cathedrale de Monaco, at pl. St-Martin, is the burial site of the Grimaldi family and the site of Prince Rainer and Princess Grace’s 1956 wedding; Princess Grace lies behind the altar in a tomb marked simply with her Latinized name, Patritia Gracia. (Open Mar.-Oct. daily 7am-7pm; Nov.-Feb. 7am-6pm.) The Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III, on les Terraces de Fontvielle, showcases 105 of the most glamorous cars ever made. ( 92 05 28 56. Open daily 10am-6pm. ‚6, students and ages 8-14 ‚3.) The Musee Oceanographique on av. St-Martin, once directed by Jacques Cousteau, holds the most exotic and bizarre oceanic species. (93 15 36 00; www.oceano.mc. Open Apr.-Sept. daily 9am-7pm; Oct.-Mar. 10am-6pm. ‚11, students ‚6.) Monaco’s nightlife has two centers. La Condamine, near the port, is less expensive and caters to a younger clientele. Bars and clubs near the casino are more expensive. Cafe Grand Prix, at 1 quai Antoine ler, serves up live music to a mixed crowd. (Open daily 10am-5am.)