It has been many years since my last visit, so I am wondering if a new visit to Monaco will give me a different feel. For one, it is winter instead of summer, but winters are not what they used to be, and this is still Mediterranean. After getting off the train at the underground station, we take the stairs up to find ourselves in bright sunlight, under an overpass and close to a small church. Space is limited in Monaco and every square inch is used. We decide to first visit the old city. We pass the seaside, see the start and finish line of the Grand Prix of Monaco, and a sculpture racing car and Fangio, a Formula 1 legend, on a roundabout. We discover a small ice rink near the port where enormous luxury yachts are docked. We then make our way up to the Rock, the promontory on top of which the old town is located.
On the way up, we get better views of the port and the mountains behind it the higher we get. We see the Côte d'Azur coastline with Italy further east. After walking through a sturdy stone gate, we pass the statue of François Grimaldi, dubbed the Malicious, who conquered the Rock in an early January night in 1297 using a trick (disguised as a friar) to enter Monaco castle, and open the gates to his soldiers. He was ousted a few years later, but the Grimaldi family has held power in this smallest of UN member states most of the time since then. On our right, we see the palace of Monaco, and we turn left to walk around the old town. We still enjoy the views of the port and mountains, and the attractive buildings with narrow alleys where the sun has a hard time to enter. At the end of our walk, we see the cathedral of Monaco, enjoy the views of a smaller port below us, and watch the changing of the guards before walking around those alleys.
It is time to see more of the city state, so we walk down and around the base of the Rock, through small parks and passing the small port, seeing sculptures of famous artists, on our way to Roseraie park with a statue of Grace Kelly, one of the most famous inhabitants of Monaco. We walk up stairs and streets to reach the New National Museum, only to find it closed. We now set out for a long walk, passing many apartment blocks and remarkable buildings, to reach the east side of Monaco. We walk down the Jardins de la Petite Afrique, past posh buildings and hotels adorned with sculptures on their façades, with luxury cars driving by, to reach the Casino of Monaco. To my surprise, we are admitted even though we are wearing all but the appropriate clothes, and are overwhelmed by the richly decorated walls and ceiling. Monaco is a city of big money, and the Casino is the apogee of its excessive wealth. Yes, it is a pretty city, it has an attractive location on the seaside, it has a curious history, but at the same time, I could not help but feel out of place, an outsider, walking around a world that I could not relate to.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Monaco City (Monaco). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Monaco City. Read more about this site.