Oct162017

A walk across Monaco, Cap d’Ail France to Roquebrune Cap Martin, France and back

Four primary impressions of Monaco after a 6-hour walk:

1. The place is immaculately clean and tidy. I don’t recall being in another place that appeared so clean and tidy, except Disneyland and DisneyWorld.

2. There are a lot of fitness enthusiasts. Many places have healthy athletic people. What struck me about Monaco is the number of people I saw in their 60s and older working out. Being nearly 58 myself, I think I can fairly well judge people older and far more athletic than me.

3. Lap dogs are prevalent. There were a lot of people walking and carrying tiny dogs around Monaco. Some big dogs too, but tiny dogs dominate tiny country.

4. Art in terms of sculpture, crafts, photographs, architecture and creative think pieces are displayed all around for public enjoyment. 

Wikipedia Basics on Monaco

Monaco is a tiny country, officially 2.02 square kilometers or 0.77 square miles. The country stretches father along the coastline at about 4 kilometers and a much shorter distance from the coast to the inland border. The upper reaches north of Monaco are Beausoleil, France. The population of Monaco is only 39,000 residents and the most densely populated country in the world.

Monaco density

Monaco is governed by constitutional monarchy with Prince Albert II head of state. The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco almost continuously since 1297.

A walk across the coastline of Monaco

My objective on my first full day in Monaco was to walk across the country from Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco in Cap d’Ail, France, across the street from the western border of Monaco, to Roquebrune Cap-Martin, the coastal town in France on the eastern border of Monaco.

An afternoon country stroll

A direct walk across Monaco by the shortest route is only about 4 kilometers and can be covered in about one hour. I followed the coast line and probably covered a couple of additional kilometers in a 3.5 hour walk. All in, I spent 6.5 hours walking across Monaco from Cap d’Ail to Roquebrune Cap-Martin and back to the Marriott Cap d’Ail between about 2:00-8:30pm with breaks for a couple of beers and a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.

Tidy Country

One of my main impressions of Monaco is how clean everything seemed. Streets with no litter, buildings with no graffiti, and workers cleaning and clearing anything that had found its way to the ground, like leaves and palm fronds fallen from the trees.

In the 1990s I spent two summers traveling around Ireland and was amused by some Irish towns proudly displaying the year they were awarded Tidy Town distinction for the country of Ireland.

Hands down, Monaco wins Loyalty Traveler’s Tidy Country honor for the cleanest and tidiest country I have ever visited.

An abundance of art

Another significant impression walking around Monaco were numerous pieces of art sculptures. One of the first displays of public space art is a simple wooden sculpture garden in a small residential skyscraper area of Fontvieille, only a couple minutes walk from the Marriott hotel in Cap d’Ail, France.

Monaco art-2

Monaco art-1 

Several bronze sculptures grace grass lawns of the pathways leading around the Fontvieille residential buildings leading to  various Fontvieille shopping centers.

Fontvieille Commercial Center 

Fontvieille Mall

Carrefour Supermarket offers a large selection of foods, including premium items like live lobsters, deli and bakery. McDonald’s in Fontvieille Commercial Center held its grand opening a couple days after my stay in Monaco.

An auto museum and animal park are also located in Fontvieille.

Animal Garden

The evening before my cross country walk I had taken the tunnel through the mall to an elevator to reach the higher street level of Monaco. Stairways also lead up to Le Rocher.

Monaco-Le Rocher

The main reason I returned to Le Rocher again was to find the Cathedral of Monaco I missed seeing the night before on my evening stroll through the deserted streets of Old Town Monaco Ville. One section of Le Rocher I had skipped the night before seemed to be the likely location of the cathedral.

Le Rocher – The Rock of Monaco after the crowds

Palais Square

I crossed in front of the royal residence Palais Princier, and snapped a photo of Port de Fontvieille, the western most portion of Monaco. Marriott Riviera and Cap d’Ail port are blocked from view by all the high rise buildings of Fontvieille.

Fontvieille view

Castleroc Restaurant entrees at 20 to 30 EUR seemed reasonable given the prime location in front of the palace.

Castleroc

Another view of Fontvieille Harbor indicated there were parts of coastal Monaco I skipped in my walk by taking the pathways through the middle of the residential buildings and not walking all the way around the coastal harbor path.

Fontvieille Harbor

Fontvieille

Cathedral of Monaco

Monaco Cathedral

Monaco royal wedding 4-19-56

Royal Wedding Prince Rainer III to Princess Grace Kelly on April 19, 1956.

Monaco Cathedral-2

Le Rocher Monaco Post Office

Monaco post office

Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium

Oceanographic Museum

A pathway from Le Rocher leads down past Theatre de Fort Antoine to the Port Hercule pier.

Theatre du Fort Antoine

Port Hercule Pier

Pier view

Pier view Le Rocher

Monaco Grand Prix auto statues are located in various places around Port Hercule.

Monaco Grand Prix 

Juan Manuel Fangio 1955 Monaco Grand Prix winner. The 1st Grand Prix of Monaco was held in 1929.

Monaco residences

Monaco land residences and sea residences.

Monaco Sweet Sea

Monaco Sweet Sea.

Little dog walker

Tiny dogs and tiny girl.

Mairie de Monaco

Mairie de Monaco pool on the waterfront of Port Hercule.

 

The Object of Beauty in a large Henry Moore

Living in hotels about 3 months of the year is a lifestyle expense I indulge, while simultaneously paying for a residence year-round in California. Sometimes I equate my lifestyle to the 1991 Michael Lindsay-Hogg movie starring John Malkovich and Andie MacDowell, where they are a couple living high in a London hotel suite while avoiding paying their hotel bill. The drama in the movie is based around their small Henry Moore statue, an art object of beauty he wants to sell to meet immediate financial debts from a bad business deal.  The hotel maid steals the Henry Moore statuette and the drama revolves around its fate.

Monaco Henry Moore

So I wondered what is the value of a large Henry Moore statue publicly displayed on the coast of Monaco above Port Hercule? Perhaps more importantly, in a far more subjective question of value, is Three Part Object an object of beauty?

Monaco Henry Moore-2

My revelation walking across Monaco is a dual purpose flag. Turn it upside down and you display the flag of Poland.

Monaco flags

If bigger is better is the sculpture world, then Botero is an artist to behold.

Monaco Botero

Adam & Eve – F. Botero (1981).

Fairmont Monte Carlo Hotel (wikipedia link since hotel has historically been other brands) is on the waterfront adjacent to Monte Carlo Casino. Fairmont Monte Carlo website.

Monaco Fairmont Monte Carlo

Monaco Fairmont Hotel

World at your finger

Monte Carlo Casino

Monte Carlo Casino was originally opened in 1863 as a revenue finance project for the House of Grimaldi. The casino displays Beaux Arts style architecture.

Monte Carlo casino garden view

Monte Carlo Casino side

Monte Carlo Casino front

Monte carlo Casino cu

Monte Carlo Casino parked cars included some trendy rides.

Monaco license

I walked though a garden on the east side of Monte Carlo Casino to reconnect with the road and the coast blocked by the Fairmont Hotel.

Fairmont Monte Carlo main entrance is at a hairpin turn in the road, which is named the Fairmont Hairpin Monte Carlo, “the world’s most famous bend” according to the sign there. This BleacherReport.com article states Formula 1 racers do the hairpin at 65 kph.

Fairmont Hairpin

A high end sports car passed me just as I had exited the garden to reach street level and I was able to snap a photo of the car just after the bend. While I have not seen Grand Prix Monaco, I viewed one speedster car driving the Monte Carlo Hairpin.

Monaco grand prix corner

Fairmont Monte Carlo appears to be the place to be for Grand Prix.

Monte Carlo Fairmont sign

The Champions Promenade Golden Foot

After crossing the traffic on the street roads, I was back in a pedestrian zone where there was a long corridor with a construction barrier wall creating a narrow space. In this space is The Champions Promenade, Golden Foot ‘walk of sports fame’.

Most of the Golden Foot athletes were names I did not recognize.  A few greats were known to me like Pele, Diego Maradona and one of the few women athletes represented with a Golden Foot plaque on the promenade is America’s own champion Mia Hamm.

Mia Hamm

Larvotto – the Beach

Something I had not seen yet on my walk along the coastline of Monaco was any beach. Monaco only has the beach at Larvotto on the eastern edge of the principality, partially public and partially private beach.

Monaco Beach

Monaco Beach-2

A fence divides the beach at the eastern end with one side being the larger public/private beach for Monaco and a smaller private section of beach on the eastern end exclusive to Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel.

Le Meridien fence

Monaco beach fountain

Due to the fence across the beach, it was necessary to return to street level at the fountain to continue my walk.

Le Meridien

Google Maps showed the border of Monaco just past Le Meridien. With the end near, I checked into Le Meridien for an 11 EUR pint of beer and some chill time at their exclusive beach.

Le Meridien-ext

I tested out the water in the advancement of hotel research for readers. The pebbly beach was painful to walk across in my bare feet to reach the water and the slope was kind of steep at the water’s edge with my feet sinking deeply at each step, but once in the ocean all was fine with a far warmer water temperature than I am used to feeling in Monterey, California.

Le Meridien water

Le Meridien beach-3

More on Le Meridien Beach Plaza will come in another post.

Le Meridien sign

Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort is the eastern edge of Monaco before France.

Monte Carlo Hotel

Monte Carlo Hotel-2

On the Border of Monaco and France

Monaco border

Roquebrune sign

Roquebrune Cap-Martin, France

Roquebrune Cap Martin

Roquebrune workout

I only stayed about 15 minutes in France, mostly watching a father with his toddler after he set up a workout course for the tot and put the boy through some athletic training while mom relaxed and watched in the final rays of direct sunlight on that part of the beach. Dad was building an athlete out of his boy.

Back to Cap d’Ail

There were a few different things I noticed on the walk back to Cap d’Ail.

Women volleyball

Women practicing beach volleyball.

Larvotto Beach

One last glance at Larvatto Beach.

At Port Hercule I went inland for my only saunter into the shopping and dining streets of Monaco away from the water. Loads of diners in outdoor cafes were to be expected. The art on the streets was more interesting to me.

Monaco CD rack

Creative CD rack.

The real me

Can you see the real me?

The Web

Colorful web.

The computer human

I feel like a number.

The comphuman

I particularly liked the sidewalk auto mechanic shop and gas station on the road right by Fontvieille as an illustration of how precious a resource space is in tiny Monaco.

Sidewalk service

A helicopter was arriving at the helipad as I approached the Marriott Riviera, its headlight shining across the Mediterranean Sea after dark. I wondered if helicopter transportation along the French Riviera are like taxis and Uber for residents of a country where a large proportion of the population holds substantial wealth?

Monaco helicopter

I don’t envy the wealth of Monaco. Over my three days in the country I felt I shared briefly in many of the pleasures of gorgeous weather, views and life Monaco has to offer. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time in my own frugal way.

Monaco dinner

Dinner as a Fischer beer and half a hot chicken from Carrefour Supermarket on a table outside looking over Fontvieille harbor was fine dining Monaco style for me.

Fontvieille harbor dining

My feet transported me everywhere I wanted to go on one fine day around Monaco.

Google maps Monaco Walk

Loyalty Traveler France-Monaco Trip Report

Cap d’Ail French Riviera walking tour Day 5

Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco on the waterfront

Le Rocher – The Rock of Monaco after the crowds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. I liked the review of Monaco area. I visited the area 2 years ago and had
    a ‘tour by car’ and on foot.

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