Monaco is flashy, glitzy and rich that is for sure. No place is that more evident than in the port where there are endless ocean going vessels of all shapes and sizes. Strolling around a harbour or port on holidays is the norm for us, none of those past strolls was anything quite like this.
Hemmed in by France on three sides and the sea on the fourth, this place has the greatest number of billionaires per capita in the world and the Monagesques do not pay taxes. Serious numbers under any circumstances but more so when you consider this is the world’s second smallest country (only the Vatican is smaller) and is about the size of London’s Hyde Park. Loads of celebrity exiles including Rafael Nadal and Lewis Hamilton call Monaco home.
We wandered around the harbour, took in those luxurious yachts and a few cruise ships – Son picked out his favourites, not an easy task.
We knew that Monte Carlo was a steep walk up from the port but wanted to explore this part and check out the casino, gardens and deluxe hotels. We resigned ourselves to an uphill hike but then followed a big tourist group who seemed like they knew where they were going. They did. Walking through a tunnel they veered off to a side area, not too obvious unless you were in the know, but it housed a lift to the casino terrace. A real short cut and for us a very lucky find. We emerged and only had to climb about twenty steps – a welcome discovery on an incredibly hot and sticky day.
The casino sits on a terrace – I read this is one of the grandest views along the entire Riviera.
Richard Burton presented Elizabeth Taylor with the Kohinoor diamond at this very spot. I found it all a bit frenzied, lots of traffic and hustle and bustle, not quite as scenic as I had hoped or remembered.
A quick peek in the casino for us – we weren’t very interested to go inside but just wanted to check out the hallway. Son wouldn’t have been allowed in but casinos are not our thing anyway. Apparently you need your passport to enter – the locals are prohibited from gambling. You can visit without gambling but I read you still have to pay a nominal fee.
No end of chauffeur driven Rolls Royces dropping people off at the door of the casino and the lobby of the Hotel de Paris just across the square. Apparently it is traditional to rub the left knee of the bronze statue of Louis XIV’s horse there for good luck before a casino visit.
Ice creams were the order of the day after all this. Son spied an establishment selling these much desired items, we cooled down and made our way back to the train, exhausted after a great day out in Monaco.