Walking Tour: Monte Carlo Casino to Monaco-Ville
- Start Casino de Monte Carlo
- End Musée Océanographique
- Length 2km; two hours
Starting in front of Monte Carlo's legendary casino, walk towards Monaco's steeply perched medieval old town, Le Rocher, which beckons from a hilltop across the water. As you make a curving descent to the port of La Condamine, you're tracing the route of Monaco's iconic Formula One Grand Prix.
If Grand Prix swag tickles your fancy, cross bd Albert 1er upon arrival at the waterfront to reach La Boutique. This official shop of Monaco's automobile club can sell you everything from model cars to racing jackets. Back on the waterfront, watch crowds frolic at Stade Nautique Rainier III, home to an Olympic-sized pool in summer and an ice-skating rink in winter.
At the port's far end, follow signs for the Palais Princier and climb the zigzag Rampe Majeur into Le Rocher. If you time things right, you'll reach Place du Palais, the square in front of the prince's palace, in time to see the 11.55am changing of the guard. The knee-sock wearing crew hasn't had to do much actual defending of the principality in recent memory, but their daily drum-beating spectacle is still good fun.
Next, follow the signposted clifftop path towards Cathédrale de Monaco, where you can pay your respects to Grace Kelly, the movie-star turned princess who died tragically in a 1982 car accident. Her tomb in the cathedral's apse is often covered in fresh flowers from the queues of admirers.
Enjoy spellbinding views of Monaco's Fontvieiille harbour as you enter the gorgeous Jardins St-Martin, draped in greenery and adorned with statues and fountains. From up here, it's easy to perceive the principality's dual strategy for growth: build up (skyscrapers) and out (landfill). The latter technique has increased Monaco's 'land' area by 25%.
At the far end of the park is the extraordinary Musée Océanographique de Monaco, which soars straight out of the cliff face and towers over the Mediterranean. After lunch in the old town, return to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the fine aquarium and historic collection of marine artifacts inside.