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Monaco Travel Guide
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Monaco

 

Photo by Helen Misseri, courtesy of FamilyFirst

By FamilyFirst

Monaco with its posh hotels, fancy restaurants, luxury shops and lavish casinos, is not just for the rich and famous. And while a parent or two may shudder at the idea of taking their toddlers and lively youngsters to Monte-Carlo, the Principality of Monaco is actually one of the most family friendly destinations on the French Riviera. Don't let visions of the Roll Royce and Ferrari crowd hunkering for peace and quiet dissuade you.

An individual state, Monaco is a unique family travel destination on the French Riviera. Don't let the country's size fool you. At less than 200 hectares and just over 32,000 citizens, Monte-Carlo is small but it's hardly insular. Thanks to the country's no tax policy, the Principality of Monaco counts residents of over 100 nationalities. And its one of the few places on the Riviera where you won't feel uncomfortable if you can't speak French. English and even Italian are widely spoken here.

Ruled by the Grimaldi family since 1297 when Francois Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, seized the fortress and occupied the rock of Monaco, it was Prince Rainier III and his American wife, former Hollywood film star Grace Kelly that secured Monte-Carlo's allure. The antics of their children Princesses Caroline and Stephanie as well as Albert II, the current Prince of Monaco, kept gossip columnists busy for decades and further enhanced Monte-Carlo's intrigue.

Yet what makes family travel to Monaco fun is the plethora of child-friendly attractions. Beaches and pools, both private and public, cater to kids. Not only do they have designated play areas, many offer free or cheap entertainment in summer. The city's parks, free and extremely well manicured, offer refuge to families traveling with tots. And whether the kids prefer automobiles, model boats or dolls, area museums provide an alternative to the sun. Don't forget to visit of the Prince's Palace and observe the changing of the guards!

So if you are keen to rub shoulders with the rich and famous and take in breathtaking and unique tourist sights, Monaco is just the place.

Copyright 2007 Helen Misseri. All rights reserved. Helen Misseri is the founder of www.familyfirst.fr, a bilingual, English-French, website dedicated to family and child oriented activities and information in France.
Getting There
 
Monaco, situated on the French Riviera, is only a 30-minute drive east from Nice and 30-minute drive west from Italy. The Principality is easily reached by road, rail, sea and air. All trains traveling between the Riviera and Italy stop in Monaco. Domestic, international and intercontinental flights arrive/depart the nearby Nice Cote d'Azur Airport. An hourly bus service, car rentals and taxis will get family travelers from the airport in Nice to Monte-Carlo with relative speed. Families preferring to arrive in style might want to consider a short helicopter ride. Renting a car and braving the twisting coastal roads is in keeping with Monaco's flare for automobiles.
Getting Around
 
The best way to navigate Monte-Carlo is on foot. And if you or the little ones tire of climbing hills head to one of the public lifts (elevators) or use an escalator. The 'Azur Express', the brightly colored miniature tourist train, and Monaco's reliable bus service offer an alternative means of transport. Buses run daily from 7:30 to 20:30 and a single ticket is €1.40. Journey passes, which can be used by more than one person, are €3.40 for 4 and €5.45 for 8 rides. If you travel to Monaco by car, park it as soon as you arrive. Only cars registered in the Principality of Monaco and the neighboring French county of les Alpes Maritimes are permitted to drive in Monaco's old town.
Documents Required
 
While the Principality of Monaco is not part of France, the passport and visa requirements for tourists are the same. A valid passport, but not a visa, is required for all visitors from Australia, Canada, EU, U.S. and UK.
Languages
 
The official language of Monaco is French. Both English and Italian are widely spoken.
When to Travel
 
Thanks to warm sea currents and towering mountains, which protect the Principality from the winds to the north, Monaco is an ideal travel destination year-round. Families intent on spending time on the beach should visit in summer from June to September. May is a fascinating time to visit Monte-Carlo, you need not be a race fan to enjoy Monaco's on-road Grand Prix. Christmas is a magical time in Monaco. In addition to a beautiful Christmas village, Monte-Carlo always boasts the most spectacular decorations on the French Riviera.
Health & Safety
 
With a ratio of 1 policeman for every 7 inhabitants, Monaco couldn't be safer. What's more it is nearly the only place along the Riviera where drivers actually stop at zebra crossings to let pedestrians by! There are no specific health risks or vaccination requirements for international travelers.
Money Matters
 
The currency of Monaco is the Euro even though the Principality is not part of the European Union.
Travel Trivia
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