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 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.
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.
Several bronze sculptures grace grass lawns of the pathways leading around the Fontvieille residential buildings leading to various Fontvieille shopping centers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Castleroc Restaurant entrees at 20 to 30 EUR seemed reasonable given the prime location in front of the palace.
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.
Cathedral of Monaco
Royal Wedding Prince Rainer III to Princess Grace Kelly on April 19, 1956.
Le Rocher Monaco Post Office
Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium
A pathway from Le Rocher leads down past Theatre de Fort Antoine to the Port Hercule pier.
Monaco Grand Prix auto statues are located in various places around Port Hercule.
Juan Manuel Fangio 1955 Monaco Grand Prix winner. The 1st Grand Prix of Monaco was held in 1929.
Monaco land residences and sea residences.
Monaco Sweet Sea.
Tiny dogs and tiny girl.
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.
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?
My revelation walking across Monaco is a dual purpose flag. Turn it upside down and you display the flag of Poland.
If bigger is better is the sculpture world, then Botero is an artist to behold.
Adam & Eve – F. Botero (1981).
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 parked cars included some trendy rides.
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.
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.
Fairmont Monte Carlo appears to be the place to be for Grand Prix.
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.
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.
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.
Due to the fence across the beach, it was necessary to return to street level at the fountain to continue my walk.
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.
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.
More on Le Meridien Beach Plaza will come in another post.
Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort is the eastern edge of Monaco before France.
On the Border of Monaco and France
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 practicing beach volleyball.
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.
Creative CD rack.
Can you see the real me?
I feel like a number.
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.
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?
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.
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.
My feet transported me everywhere I wanted to go on one fine day around Monaco.
Loyalty Traveler France-Monaco Trip Report