When we were visiting the French Riviera we enjoyed a day trip to Monaco from Nice. We took the bus from Nice to Monaco and the train on the way back since we had done the boat trip over to Saint Tropez just a day ago. Monaco also known as Principality of Monaco is a sovereign city-state and microstate, located on the French Riviera sounded by France on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco has four traditional quarters. From west to east they are – Fontvieille (the newest), Monaco-Ville (the oldest), La Condamine, and Monte Carlo. Many of the James Bond movies features the Monte Carlo casino! While it is famous for its fancy cars and the Glitz and Glam but you can still find some fun things to do in Monaco with kids (while they are not too busy spotting the shiny cars!)
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Fun things to do in Monaco with Kids
We spent most of our day in Monaco gawking at the luxury yachts and boats at the marina and stopped by to see Prince Rainer’s private collection of cars which ranges from military, horse-drawn carriages, popular, veteran, vintage, sports and classic cars. Mr. OutsideSuburbia and D spent the day gleefully admiring each car old and new! We had lunch right across from the famous Casino and learnt about the Monaco Grand Prix race.
Can you visit Monte Carlo Casino with kids
Once we got off at the train station we took a bus to Monte-Carlo – we were not really interested in gambling or going inside the Grand Casino. You can take kids inside till 12 noon after which the casino is closed for public and only people interested in Gambling go inside. The Casino is on the southern end of the Place du Casino between the Hotel de Paris and the Cafe de Paris and you need to be dressed in some classy threads and be a high roller to play the stakes here. We choose to pass and instead opted for a leisurely lunch at Café de Paris, watch the expensive and classic cars rolling in to the casino area. We then walked over to the back of the Casino for some french macarons at the Café Laduree. The cafe had the cutest ice cream cart in a pretty shade of pistachio and a little carousel.
Café Laduree Montecarlo, was the only one we have seen without long lines for these famous mararons. If you fancy these delicate French treats made of almond flour, two light as air macaron shells filled with yummy fillings then you probably already know about Laduree, which is THE place to get them. We found most other boutiques in France had long lines of patrons waiting to get the macarons in so many different flavors, packaged in a keepsake box. The café in Monte-Carlo was pretty with amazing view of the Mediterranean coast, a carousel and a cute ice cream cart.
Experience the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit
The Monaco Grand Prix race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. The Formula One motor race is organized by Automobile Club de Monaco and held each year on the Circuit de Monaco. The Monaco Formula One GP is usually held in the month of May and the best Formula One racing drivers from around world come to take part in the competition. The weeks right before the event, you can experience the thrill of driving your car around the circuit, passing through the exact same track that the Grand Prix follows.
During the Grand Prix weekend spectators crowd around the Monaco Circuit. There are a number of temporary grandstands built around the circuit, mostly around the harbor area. The rich and famous arrive on their boats and the yachts in the harbor fill with spectators. Balconies around Monaco become viewing areas for the race too! How fun it would be to watch the cars zipping by! Like us if you are not visiting during the race, you can still visit the ACM (Automobile Club de Monaco) and learn about the race and buy some souvenirs at Automobile Club de Monaco boutique store.
You can also take the sightseeing toy train around Monaco, might have been better to take this than walk around like we did.
Admire Prince Rainier’s Private Collection of Shiny Cars
If you like shiny cars, you must visit The Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III which houses the exotic cars from different eras including some old F1 cars. It is the private collection of the Prince and located a 5 minute walk from the railway station or 20 minutes walk from Casino Square. You can find the address and more detail at the Website at H.S.H. Prince Rainier III’s private collection of Antique cars
H.S.H. Prince Rainier III’s private collection of Antique cars
Here are a few cars that caught our eye
Citizens of Monaco (Monégasques) don’t pay taxes. The traditional Monégasque dialect is, broadly speaking, a mixture of French and Italian. We found the city very clean with no graffiti anywhere and well manicured gardens and flowers. The Monégasques were friendly, we had a hard time finding the location of The Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III
See the big boats at the Hercule Harbor
Monaco’s deep-water port is the perfect place to see all the impressive boats and yachts. Some of the major cruise ships also dock here and it is quite the sight some mega yachts with their own helipads – some are a few hundred meters in length.
The Monaco Hercule harbor with the big yachts
Beaches in Monaco
If you looking for some beach time then the main beach at Monaco is Larvotto Beach, which has both public and private beaches. It is only a short walk from Monte Carlo but keep in mind that you might run into some topless sunbathers. If you are looking for something more intimate and smaller then you will like La Note Bleue. Plage du Larvotto Beach is man-made and has that fine pebbly texture rather than a soft sand beach but it is comfortable for walking on. La Note Bleue is a beach restaurant that has nice seaside views, lounge chairs, umbrellas for rent and is next to a nice private beach where kids can play.
Other things to do in Monaco
There is a lot more to see and do in Monaco like Oceanographic museum, The Museum of Stamps and Coins and Changing of guard the Royal Palace which sits high on the hill on the opposite side of the harbor from the casino. Every day at 11:55 am sharp, the Royal Guards parade onto the palace’s front square, some with swords drawn, other shouldering rifles with bayonets. Kids might also like to spend some time at NI BOX, playing video games and trying the different simulators, some even recreate the experience of driving the GP circuit or enjoy family time at the bowling alley.
Here are a few photos from our day in Monaco.
Bugatti spotting !!
Monte Carlo Casino
The Ritzy Hotel de Paris
The pretty menu and lunch at Café de Paris
Salad Nicoise, a French composed salad with tuna, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, onion, capers, and potatoes – with some Monaco beer
You can find this statue in Monaco made in memory of William Grover-Williams who drove a Bugatti Type 35B painted dark green at the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix and won.
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