The tiny European municipality has its quirks as well as its charms. Here are some important notes to keep in mind when planning a trip and visiting Monte Carlo.
Monaco is for all seasons, but the months May through June and September through October are the most desirable if you want to avoid the onslaught of tourists and traffic snarls and take full advantage of the sea. During the Grand Prix car race, in late May, expect high-octane excitement and major crowds—booking a room a year in advance is a must. The mild winter months are equally pleasant for a spa getaway or to take in the ballet and opera during the off-season.
One of the country’s particularities that continues to amaze is the smooth passage for travelers into and out of France. Call it the Magic Kingdom effect: no customs officers, no show of passports, only white-gloved gendarmes who salute politely when you stop to ask directions. To paraphrase Colette: Monaco may be the only country in the world whose borders are marked by beds of brightly colored flowers. In these times, that is something to appreciate. Fly into Nice, which is an approximately thirty-minute drive by taxi from Monaco. Many visitors splurge on the convenient helicopter connection, a seven-minute flight affording a dazzling view of the coast. If you’re driving, take the A8 autoroute to the Monaco/La Turbie exit.
Taxis are easy to find, but a rental car is a good idea if you want to explore the neighboring towns on the Côte d’Azur. Don’t be fooled by the dazzling array of Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Lamborghinis parked on the Place du Casino—the locals stash their cars in the many convenient (and inexpensive) underground lots. Walking enthusiasts can take advantage of the seven multilevel elevators that carry people from sea level to Monte-Carlo and Monaco Ville. There are also five local bus lines that cover the entire principality.
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