Today I took a bus from Nice to spend the day visiting Monaco and Monte Carlo!
After getting directions from my roommate and the tourism office, I found the bus to Monaco. It only cost 1 euro and took about half an hour to get there. It’s so weird to think that I took a bus to another country today for only a euro (technically Monaco is a sovereign state!). The bus ride was great and there were beautiful views of the coast all the way to Monaco.
Once we arrived in Monaco, I visited the Fontvieille neighbourhood to check out the Princess Grace Rose Garden. Monaco is very much a coastal area but also has huge hills. So to get down to the Fontvieille area there are actually public elevators and escalators. This should have been my first indicator that walking around Monaco would kill my feet.
The Princess Grace Rose Garden was smaller than I expected and there weren’t as many roses as I thought there would be, but it was very pretty. There were fountains and statues throughout the park. There were also a lot of workers there tending to the garden so at least it’s well looked after.
From the Garden I headed up to the Palais du Prince or Palace of Monaco. It’s the official residence of the royal family of Monaco, the Gramaldis. The current family apparently still lives there. The trek up to the palace and surrounding community was not that much fun, especially with the heat. There were a ton of very wide stairs that wound up the side of the hill. The views were amazing but something tells me the Prince and his family have a different entrance route…
I got to tour the Palace for only 3.50 (thanks Student Card!) and saw the grounds, bedrooms and state rooms. They had done up the place to represent different eras of the reigning monarchs. I don’t know a ton about Monaco’s history but the audio guide definitely helped and it was really cool to see some of the artifacts. I especially liked visiting the room where Grace Kelly got married and the current Prince Albert had his coronation. There were a lot of beautiful family portraits as well.
After the palace I walked down to the Cathedral du Monaco where Grace Kelly and her husband, among other royals, are buried. It was a beautiful church but very touristy. You can tell that Princess Grace is a favourite as her burial spot is one of the few with fresh flowers by it.
I walked through the surrounding town, took in the views, and wandered down a different path back to the coast. I found the area where the Grand Prix de Monaco starts. At least, I think it was the start. It looked pretty convincing and a crowd of racing fans seemed to be into it, but to be honest I didn’t know the Grand Prix de Monaco existed until this morning.
From there, I walked towards Monte Carlo to find the famed Monte Carlo Casino (bonus fact: the reigning prince of the time actually commissioned and opened the casino because of his love of gambling). Strangely enough, the casino was kind of hard to find and the street arrows kept contradicting each other. It was hot and uphill. When I finally reached the casino I was pretty relieved.
I thought about going in, but the entrance fee turned me off. Though it would have been cool to say my first casino experience was in Monte Carlo! Oh well, another time.
I walked around the gardens in Monte Carlo and tried to find this Boutique Princess Grace had set up. After walking a couple blocks my screaming feet decided I was lost and the store was not worth it. I did find “Fred Boutique”, the official jeweller of the royal family and destination for quite the celeb clientèle, though.
Eventually I turned into the Cafe de Paris, opposite the Monte Carlo Casino, and stopped for a bite. I had delicious pasta and enjoyed the opportunity to rest my feet. After lunch I toured the gardens again and said goodbye to Monaco. I boarded the bus back to Nice, watched as the coast flew by from my bus seat and dragged my tired feet home to my awesome hotel room.
Tomorrow I leave Nice and fly to Barcelona! I’m excited to be going to Spain, but nervous about the language barrier and the heat. I’m sure it will all work out! If I can find my way to a shady spot on the beach, I will be happy!