Le Rocher is The Rock of Monaco and the location of Palais Princier, the Prince of Monaco’s palace and Monaco Ville – Old Town Monaco.
After walking through the shopping mall at Port de Fontvieille in the western most harbor port of Monaco, where a large Carrefour Supermarket is located, I found myself in a colorful tunnel, which led to an elevator I took with others to find myself lifted up to another street level in the city. Monaco is a city with extensive infrastructure located within tunnels.
There were a couple of policemen standing in the road and a sign pointed uphill to Palais Princier, the Prince of Monaco Palace. The next sign I noticed was a dress code.
My sandals, collared shirt and shorts did not match the image on the sign, but appeared to not violate the dress code.
Far more people were walking downhill than going uphill on the stone path.
I had been to Monaco one time previously, many years ago as a teenager. My family visited Monaco briefly in summer 1975 on a driving tour from Germany to Barcelona with my parents’ Volvo sedan towing a camper trailer pop-up tent. My main memory of Monaco was a vision of densely packed apartment buildings on the hillside and large yachts in the harbor. And of course, the formally dressed attendants at Monte Carlo Casino quickly ushering our U.S. Army military license plate car and trailer away from the casino entrance and the evening guests wearing tuxedos and ball gowns.
A statue of Prince Rainier III of Monaco 1923-2005 is positioned looking over Port Hercule, the central harbor of the Prinicipality of Monaco.
At this point the pathway twists around to create a strategic corridor between stone walls and The Rock.
The place was starting to feel like a castle fortress. To my surprise the area opened up into a delightfully inviting space with the Palais Princier to the right up top The Rock and Monaco Ville to the left.
Not until going back to the Marriott Riviera in Cap d’Ail and reading about Le Rocher that evening did I realize the palace is only one part of Le Rocher. Most of the area is Monaco Ville, the old town and open to the public without restricted access.
A local’s blog suggested visiting Le Rocher after 6pm when all the tour groups are gone.
I can confirm that an evening stroll through Monaco Ville is a good tip after my initial walk feeling like I was the lone royal walking around town. The next afternoon’s visit was similar to walking through Disneyland crowds in the narrow interior streets during a day with three cruise ships off the coast.
Government buildings, foreign embassies, schools and churches, low rise residential apartments and several lovely park spaces cover Le Rocher, along with a couple of avenues filled with gift shops and cafes.
Walking clockwise around Le Rocher led me through several garden paths with many benches in relaxing spaces.
Princess Grace photos can be seen in various places around Le Rocher.
Delightful views were seen all around.
I sat on a bench overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, where an old man and his dog were also relaxing. The dog could smell the leftover chicken in my bag from the Carrefour supermarket dinner I ate before my walk and decided I was the better man at the moment to be near.
The sun descended behind the coast mountains.
A few teens were riding around a skateboard park on a level below the Oceanographic Museum.
Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium
The five or so narrow interior streets of Le Rocher are where most of the shops and cafes are located.
Many of the shops were closing by 7pm. Few tourists were around for sales and even the cafes were sparsely populated.
At first I thought I had spotted the Embassy of Poland when I saw a red and white striped flag, but after several more sightings, I realized the flag of Monaco is a red stripe on top of a white stripe, whereas, Poland is a white stripe on top of a red stripe.
That places a lot of importance on the directionality of the flag when hanging it vertically.
With light fading, there was time for a few more photos from Place du Palais before leaving Le Rocher.
My objective for the next day was walk across the country of Monaco from Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco in Cap d’Ail, France on the western edge of the country to Roquebrune Cap-Martin, the French town on the eastern border of Monaco.
Not so challenging a feat at approximately 4 kilometers west to east in a direct walking route. However, I generally don’t take the direct route when my objective is exploration and I covered quite a bit more ground than four kilometers in a six-hour walk.