The French Riviera (Part 01): Monaco

Monaco | Ciao Fabello

With summer coming to a close, we wanted to have one last long weekend of sun and sea. Having visited Nice in 2015, it seemed a fitting place to host us, as we could focus on relaxing over sightseeing. That said, one regret from our visit a few years ago was not taking a day trip to Monaco. So with our Nice Airbnb check-in not until the late afternoon on our first day, we transferred directly from the airport to Monaco (using the 110 Express bus) to spend a few hours in the city-state.

We didn’t have high expectations for Monaco, and we didn’t think our visit was going to be anything more than a novelty, but we were pleasantly surprised, in particular by its old town. The bus dropped us off the at the Monte Carlo Casino, and after gawking at it from the outside, we walked southwest to the port where we grabbed a light and tasty lunch from Woo (cream cheese, goat cheese, and tomato bagels).

Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello

We had planned on visiting the Exotic Garden, but with limited time after a later-than-expected start (thanks to bad traffic) we decided to skip it. Instead we went directly to the old town (via Rampe de la Major), emerging at Place du Palais, crowned by the pristine Prince's Palace.

Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello

After serendipitously catching the changing of the guard, we wandered along the southern edge of the old town, past scenes of a wedding at the beautiful Saint Nicholas Cathedral and then to the serene Saint-Martin Gardens for a quick visit. As we circled the miniscule old town, we appreciated its tidiness and lack of crowds (at least away from the square), and there were picturesque views seemingly around every corner!

Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello
Monaco | Ciao Fabello

We closed our visit out with a seaside walk out of Monaco to Cap d’Ail where we called an Uber to bring us to Nice. While Monaco isn’t necessarily a top tourist draw, it’s a great addition to a wider-ranging French Riviera itinerary and offers country-counters an opportunity to cross the world’s second-smallest country off on their lists!