Monaco's Hidden Local Havens
Monaco's 8000 ancestral Monégasque citizens are easily outnumbered by 29,000 adoptive residents from 139 other countries, 45,000 French and Italian guest workers, and the never-ending flood of foreign tourists. Yet even with this crush of outsiders, the principality's locals still have some special havens that they can call their own.
Parc Princesse Antoinette
Despite Monaco's rampant high-rise development, Monégasques are big nature-lovers. Jogging and picking wild mushrooms remain favourite pastimes, and 25% of the country is still conserved as green space, including this hidden hillside park below the Jardin Exotique. School kids hunt for eggs here every Easter, and the adjoining school raises chickens and vegetables among the ancient olive trees.
Marché de la Condamine
This fresh produce market fills place d'Armes every morning throughout the year. Families do their regular shopping here, while kids frolic on the adjacent playground. Thanks to the Riviera's climate, lemons and oranges are available here in midwinter. From Parc Princesse Antoinette, descend to place d'Armes via a series of staircases and elevators, following signs for Avs Crovetto and Prince Pierre.
Shoppers typically save their morning break for this beloved food stall in the covered food court just off place d'Armes. The speciality here is socca, a chickpea pancake that's a staple of the Côte d'Azur diet. Demand picks up around 10am. Some Monégasques drink coffee with their socca, but many prefer a glass of wine, even mid-morning.
Chapelle de la Miséricorde
Catholicism remains Monaco's state religion, with some 90% of citizens identifying as Catholic. While visitors regularly make pilgrimages to the 19th-century Cathédrale de Monaco to see the tomb of Princess Grace, this smaller, earlier chapel is where many locals come to celebrate the Latin Mass held here at 6pm each Sunday and to admire the 17th-century paintings.
Club Bouliste du Rocher
Much as in neighbouring France and Italy, pétanque is a favourite pastime in Monaco. This unassuming-looking club, marked by a simple red sign, made the French national semifinals in 2018. Glance through the gate and you'll see members eating lunch in the canteen at the back, then hitting the pitch to toss boules later in the afternoon.
Tucked away below the cliffs on the south side of Le Rocher is this secret shingle beach, known mostly to resident Monégasques. Old stone steps careen steeply down to the water, where there's just enough space to lay a towel. When the sun's shining, you'll find locals here even in the dead of winter. In stormy weather, it becomes utterly impassable.