Visiting Monaco and Monte Carlo from Nice

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Principality of Monaco and Monte Carlo by train from Nice, France

Taking the Train from Nice 

The train from Nice to Monaco takes 25 minutes and cost about $7 (senior fare) or $9 (adult) round trip. Trains leave often and I find are generally on time.  The Monaco train station is in the upper town (the city is on a hill), but you can take the escalator down from the station to the harbor area and exit there.  

There is a handy map, and a stop for the Hop On Hop Off bus outside the train station. 

Monaco and Monte Carlo what is the difference?

I had to do a little research before I went to Monaco. I was curious about the relationship between Monaco and Monte Carlo, and this is what I found out.  

Monaco is a Principality, a city-state, country, and microstate. It’s the second smallest country in the world (only 0.78 sq mi), after the Vatican (0.17 square miles), and its the most densely populated country in the world. 

The Principality is surrounded on three sides by France and the other by the Meditteranean Sea. Monte Carlo is one of four municipalities of Monaco. The other 3 are Monaco Ville, La Condamine, and Fontvieille. So Monte Carlo is part of the Principality of Monaco. It’s also where most of the population of Monaco lives. 

Reigning Monarch of the Principality of Monaco and head of the Grimaldi Family

Prince Albert II is the head of state. Although he’s “a constitutional monarch, he wields immense political power. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297.[14] The official language is French, but Monégasque, Italian, and English are widely spoken and understood.” according to Wikipedia. 

Monaco isn’t a European Union country, but it follows some of the policies like customs and border control, and because of its relationship with France, now uses the Euro as its currency.

Chapel of Saint Devota 

Coming out of the station by the harbor, there is a little 11th-century chapel dedicated to Saint Devota, the patron saint of Monaco. The chapel is tucked under the train line as if forgotten while the rest of the city is built around it.   

A restaurant overlooking the harbor advertised a “business lunch special.” 

You see Rainier and Princess Grace references all over the Principality.

The beautiful belle epoque style Hôtel Hermitage overlooks the harbor. 

I took a bus up the hill to Monaco town which is very different from Monte Carlo. The streets are narrow old town lanes and its very quiet. This likely changes in the tourist season. There are some tourists wandering about but they are mainly around the palace.  

I arrive at the Palais around noon and stumble upon the changing of the guard.  

There’s a long path down from Monaco Town to the lower commercial area leading to the harbor. At the bottom, there is a town market. 

Back in the harbor area, I found something unexpected. A large skating rink with a smaller rink where kids are learning to skate! The sun is shining, I’m surrounded by beautiful boats, huge yachts, and people eating outside in the sun, then I see an ice rink.  Quite unexpected but delightful!    

Walking on the street by the harbor and back up the Monte Carlo side, there are exclusive shops, huge yachts, and a sculpture of the first Grand Prix winner. 

On top of the Monte Carlo side, as you get closer to the Casino, you see upscale stores and cars belonging to those who can afford them. 

The famous Casino Monte Carlo is a beautiful building high above the Meditteranean surrounded by gardens.  I can’t find an entrance or perhaps its only open in the evenings.  In any case it’s all a bit intimidating.  

As I walked on the backside of the building I discovered the casino for the non-high rollers! The entrance was unassuming and surrounded by road construction. I had to show ID, and they checked my backpack, but the security people were very nice. I had a look around but found I could be walking around any casino in the US. There were the customary banks of slot machines with the usual sounds and lights blinking, people staring at screens, no natural light, a bar, and a backroom for table games.  Just your average dark casino. 

Then it was back to the train station to head home. I enjoyed my time in Monaco.


However, I’ll be happy to be back in comfortable, unpretentious Nice. 

 

About

I'm in my sixties with the world at my feet and thoughts mostly of "where to next?". I retired in 2017, sold my house in Massachusetts and most of my furniture and "stuff." When not traveling you can find me in Florida in the winter and Rhode Island in the summer. Travel has been a passion from a young age, over the years I've discovered I'm a traveler, not a tourist. I prefer traveling solo, with a travel friend, or small groups. Whenever possible I would rather spend time in one place rather than moving around. I'll never turn down an opportunity to go to France, but my travels have taken me all over the world. I've met some incredible people and had some fantastic experiences.

2 Comments

  • Bev February 27, 2020 at 9:18 am Reply

    Well done about your day in Monaco, Kath. We were there briefly years ago and had the same experience with the casino and its blandness. It was late evening too and not much more was happening than you describe. We didn’t get to the old town on the hill so your descriptions and pictures were great to see. We did also happen on the changing of the guard which was fun since its probably been happening since the 1200s! – fancier costumes now, I suspect.

  • Dottie February 27, 2020 at 9:29 am Reply

    Beautiful country. I will have plenty of questions this coming summer. Be safe my friend.

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