Is Monaco worth it?

May 4th, 2007, 12:01 PM
  #1  
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Is Monaco worth it?

Hi Fodorites,

I just found out that my husband will need to be in Monte Carlo for business this summer and he asked if I wanted to meet him there.

This means the hotel is free, and I was able to find free flights via frequent flier miles.

But is it worth it? I'll likely be alone most of the days, seeing the hubby at night. I don't really have the vacation time but might be able to work something out.

I've googled a bit and aside from it being a pretty city set into the mountains, there doesn't seem to be a lot there. And if that's the point, that's cool. I'm just wondering if I'm missing something.

Thanks in advance for your input,
BostonGal
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May 4th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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Monte Carlo itsself has quite a few attractions:

- The Palace (visits possible).
- The Cathedral (with Grace Kelly's grave).
- The Jacques Cousteau Aquarium
- The old town.

In Monaco, you can also visit
- The cactus garden.
- The cave.

In any case, rent a car and drive the fabulous corniches. Be sure to see
- Eze, a picturesque mountain village.
- La Turbie, a Roman monument.
- Nice with tons of attractions (some of the world's best art museums, especially the Chagall museum).

The drive to Nice takes about 30 minutes.
If you take the autoroute you can reach many more destinations: Cannes, St.Paul de Vence, Vence, Biot, Corniche de l'Esterel...

Enough stuff for two months (at least).
traveller1959 is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 12:24 PM
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Personally, I found a half-day was plenty for Monaco.

The old town is far more appealing than the area around the harbour, but the cathedral is not very special. The whole royal family thing seemed Ruritanian to me. But I'm a republican peasant curmudgeon.

If you don't fancy driving, it is very easy to go by bus to Nice, and it might be better that way, because it is a very scenic trip and you can enjoy the views better as a passenger than as a driver.
Padraig is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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I think you should take advantage of it if only to be near the other towns of the French Riveria. Nice, Eze, Antibes, these are all beautiful towns a bus or train ride away.

Even if you don't spend a lot of time in Monaco itself, you can certainly find plenty to keep your days busy.
jenblase is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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There's excellent train service along the Riveria. No need to confine yourself to Monaco (which I'm not that fond of). Spend your days in Nice, Menton, Cannes, & Villefranche. Take a train up into the Alps back of Nice.

Stu Dudley
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May 4th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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My goodness! Wouldn't have to ask me twice!!!

Yes, I would follow all of the above advice, plus add St. Paul-de-Vence, just north of Cannes with it's Fondacion Maeght outdoor museum and fabulous (if touristy) art village.

-e
enroute is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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Go, Go, Have lunch at the Colombre D'Or in St Paul de-Vence and visit the Maeght Foundation.
cigalechanta is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 01:44 PM
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ira
 
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>the hotel is free, and I was able to find free flights via frequent flier miles...I'll likely be alone most of the days, seeing the hubby at night.<

>Is Monaco worth it?<

Nah.
ira is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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nbujic
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Better than a train, there is a bus (100) to Nice. Stops in a few places along the way. Nice is much bigger than Monte Carlo ; tons of things to see, great shops and restaurants.
Go, go go!
 
May 4th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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I spent a day in Monte Carlo, wandereed the gardens by the harbor. I didn't go into the casino or the older part of town. I love St. Paul de Vence and Eze, and Nice too - you could pass some lovely days there.
ninasdream is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 03:08 PM
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Monaco bores me silly, but I'd still go and check out all the other neat stuff you can get to from Monaco.
StCirq is online now  
May 4th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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Free hotel and free air? Of course it's worth it.

But I *would* say "no" if you had another destination in mind that you would rather save your vacation time and miles for. But only you would know the answer to that.
Jolie is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 03:03 AM
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BostonGal:

The answer depends on your personal style of travelling.

There are two styles of travelling.

The first style is like this: You check all available guidebooks for attractions. You rank the destinations according to their attractions. Than you make an itinerary which includes as many as possible number-one-destinations. The result is that you would spend no more than half a day in Monaco, because the next first-rank-attraction is waiting for you. The result is a "it's Friday, so it must be Belgium"-type of travelling. You will ask the Fodorites for the "best" low-budget restaurant at your destination and you will end up in a place which is crowded with tourists from your home country, because they have followed the same tips.

The other style of travelling is to spend several days at one destination. You will be more relaxed, spend some of your time sitting in cafés, walking through streets or hiking through the mountains. You will explore your destinations and you will make discoveries. You will catch the spirit of the place and learn at least a little bit of the culture.

>I found a half-day was plenty for Monaco<
>Monaco bores me silly<

These are typical judgements for the first style of travelling. You end up comparing:

>but the cathedral is not very special<

Yes, it is true you find "better" cathedrals at other places. But if you are there it is nice to visit the cathedral. And it is certainly unique.

If you are willing to experience the more-in-depth-style of travelling you will certainly enjoy Monaco.

Do some things which most of the other tourists are missing:

- Spend half a day in the Aquarium. It is old-fashioned, and that is the charme - and the historical significance. It is the very birthplace of marine research.

http://membres.lycos.fr/aquafrce/Monaco1.html

- Visit the Prince's Palace. It is not a museum, it is inhabitated, and splendidly furnished.

http://www.palais.mc

- Visit the Hotel de Paris and have a drink there and watch the people. It is an experience in itsself.

- In any case, drive the Corniches. Rent a car and drive the small roads with their hairpin-curves which connect the three corniches.

- Spend some relaxing hours in the exotic garden. Descend into the cave and see the dwellings of prehistoric men. Very refreshing on a warm day!

- And, of course, make daytrips.

You will have a great time. I have been to Monaco more than a dozen times, and I always come back if I am in the area.

For some impressions, look here:

http://www.cityofmonaco.com/monaco/info/aleisure.html
traveller1959 is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 04:38 AM
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nbujic
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'Rent a car and drive the small roads with their hairpin-curves which connect the three corniches'.
We are in Nice right now. People here drive like mad. ( fast, right behind you, take no prisoners).
If you not used to that kind of driving, forget it !
 
May 5th, 2007, 04:42 AM
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So, because I thought that half a day was enough time for Monaco, I am apparently guilty of being this sort of traveller: "You check all available guidebooks for attractions. You rank the destinations according to their attractions. Than you make an itinerary which includes as many as possible number-one-destinations. [etc]"

I find that judgement offensive in two ways.

First, people may travel as they see fit, and the negative tone of your comments suggests that people who travel that way have an unenlightened approach. No. They have their way of doing things, just as others have different ways.

Second, I am not the sort of traveller you denigrate. I am not big into guidebooks and I don't use checklists of the "must-sees". I visited Monaco with an open mind and was simply not greatly taken with it.
Padraig is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 05:25 AM
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Excuse me, Padraig, I did not intend to be offensive.

I simply find that such judgements do injustice to the destinations and are not very helpful to people who need advice whether they should go or not.

I thought that the OP should check herself what type of traveller she is. If she is the first-type-traveller she might be disappointed by Monaco (well, it is not Paris). Otherwise, she will enjoy herself.
traveller1959 is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 06:11 AM
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Forgot to mention, the Museum of Oceanography in Monaco is the best I have ever seen, the global section, rather than Mediterranean.

-e
enroute is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 06:28 AM
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traveler1959, I do not accept that my judgement did any sort of injustice to Monaco. It is a subjective judgement, and I made it clear that my reaction was shaped by the sort of person I am. I went there; I saw it; I liked some things; I was unimpressed by other things; I left earlier than the time I originally had in mind.

Note that I do not conform to your stereotype of the first-type traveller.

Is my opinion of Monaco worth less than yours because you liked it better?
Padraig is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 06:41 AM
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You don't want to drive in Nice, especially with the streets torn up as they are. Take the train or bus there from Monaco.

But you may want to save your vacation days for a time when your husband is on vacation too.
Mimar is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 09:15 AM
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I agree with Padraig

I've spent more than 7 weeks in the Nice area, and I find Monaco to be no more than a half day visit - at best. If a visitor has a special interest like a sea-life aquarium, then they can certainly allocate more time. I much prefer Nice for my big city destination. The person who said it "bores me silly" lives part-time in France, & has been doing so for about 15 years - so she has some basis for judgement.

People usually don't have enough time to see all the things they want to see, so I think it's helpful to find out what other people's impressions are of various sites. If you get a lot of negatives about a site from people who seem to be "well traveled", and it you feel that your taste is similar to theirs, then I think that's very helpful info - really it's what these travel forums are all about.

>>You will ask the Fodorites for the "best" low-budget restaurant at your destination and you will end up in a place which is crowded with tourists from your home country, because they have followed the same tips.<<

That's a pretty general statement. I'll have to remind myself to not give you any restaurant advise if you ask for some. My wife & I spend 9 weeks vacationing in France most years - so that's over 40 restaurant dinners per year - and we've been holding that pace since '99. We're big foodies, and if we spend 9 weeks in France, we can't afford to dine at the expensive places. I know dozens & dozens of great low-budget restaurants in France. Unfortunately, very few of them are on the Cote d'Azur. My worst meals have been along the Cours Saleya in Nice and elsewhere in Old Nice. Safari, however, is a little better than the others, & it's where we'll be having dinner in July.

Stu Dudley
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