Monte-Carlo Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Monte-Carlo

Monte Carlo is one of Monaco's most attractive administrative areas. Wealth and luxury are on full display in this exclusive city lying in the fabulous French Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea. Monte-Carlo is renowned for its famous casino, lavishly decorated Opera house, old churches and exotic Jardin Japonais de Monaco. Take this tour to explore the city's most popular attractions.
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Monte-Carlo Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Monte-Carlo Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Monaco » Monte-Carlo (See other walking tours in Monte-Carlo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Casino de Monte-Carlo
  • Opéra de Monte-Carlo
  • Boulevard des Moulins
  • St. Charles Church
  • Jardin Japonais de Monaco
  • Avenue de Monte Carlo
  • Port Hercule
  • Sainte-Dévote Chapel
  • Jardin Exotique de Monaco
  • Prince's Palace of Monaco
  • Monaco Cathedral
  • Oceanographic Museum
Casino de Monte-Carlo

1) Casino de Monte-Carlo (must see)

The Monte Carlo Casino is perhaps the world's most famous gambling venue, owned and operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco. At some point, in the 1950s, it was controlled by Aristotle Onassis.

The idea to open a gambling business in Monaco came from Princess Caroline in the late 1840s. She saw this as a chance for the Principality to avoid bankruptcy after the loss of tax proceeds from the breakaway towns of Menton and Roquebrune.

In the 1850s, Monaco was not much of a fancy place. It didn't have sufficient road network linking it to the neighbouring Nice and the rest of Europe, no suitable accommodation for visitors or any other amenities. The casino had changed several managers before it started to generate profit in 1859.

In 1863 it was taken over by François Blanc who had used his entrepreneurial skills to raise a required capital for a massive development of the area, launched in 1858. Among those who first invested in the project were Bishop of Monaco and the future Pope Leo XIII. The new casino complex, designed in a distinct Beaux Arts style by architect Charles Garnier, author of the Paris Opéra building, was finished in 1863. The area, previously known as Les Spelugues (The Caves), was renamed to Monte Carlo in honour of Prince Charles, the then ruler of Monaco. In 1879, an opera and ballet theatre, known as the Salle Garnier, was added to the complex.

For many years, the Monte Carlo Casino remained the key source of income for Monaco's economy, yet its own citizens have always been banned from gambling. It is for this reason that all visitors to the casino must present their IDs to ensure that no locals get inside.

A lot of fictional, as well as factual, peculiar events have been associated with the Monte Carlo Casino over the years. Among them the James Bond novels and movies, partially set in and filmed on the location, and the Monaco Grand Prix (the Circuit de Monaco) Formula-1 race, passing by the casino building each year.
Opéra de Monte-Carlo

2) Opéra de Monte-Carlo (must see)

The Opéra de Monte-Carlo, also known as the Salle Garnier, is an opera house, which is part of the Monte Carlo Casino located in the Principality of Monaco. It opened in 1879 by then ruling Prince of Monaco, Charles III, who thus sought to diversify the Principality's cultural life. Initially, it served as the Prince's private theatre and its main entrance was reserved for the royal family.

The opera house took eight months to build and was designed by architect Charles Garnier who was also responsible for the construction of the Palais Garnier in Paris. Hence the resemblance between the Salle Garnier and its Paris sibling, being an exact but smaller copy, with only 524 seats, of the latter. Both buildings reflect a Belle Epoque style.

The inauguration of the Salle Garnier took place on 25 January 1879 with a show featuring Sarah Bernhardt, clad in a nymph costume. Since then, the theatre has hosted 45 world premieres, including Hector Berlioz's “La damnation de Faust” in 1893, Saint-Saëns's “Hélène” (1904), Mascagni's “Amica” (1905), and Puccini's “La Rondine” (1917). It also saw the very first performance, in January 1894, by Italian tenor, Francesco Tamagno, of Verdi's Otello, as well as many other 20th century opera greats, such as Nellie Melba and Enrico Caruso (in “La bohème” and “Rigoletto”, 1902), and Feodor Chaliapin in the opening spectacle of “Don Quichotte”, by Jules Massenet, in 1910.

Today, the Opéra presents five to six operas during a season. It was transformed for the third time on 27 July 2013 to host the Love Ball, a fundraising gala event organised by the Naked Heart Foundation.

Why You Should Visit:
The setting alone is worth a visit, and the facade will already impress any visitor here.
The interior is spectacularly ornate with drapes of red velvet, lots of gold leaf, bronzes, friezes and crystals everywhere.
If you're a fan of architecture & design, this is a must – especially if you get to see it in use!
Boulevard des Moulins

3) Boulevard des Moulins

Boulevard des Moulins, like Avenue des Beaux-Arts, offers luxurious couture shops, as well as glamorous boutiques. The storefronts are sure to grab your attention as they often showcase the latest creations by many top designers. Boulevard des Moulins is also famous for its prevalence of small galleries.
St. Charles Church

4) St. Charles Church

Saint-Charles is a landmark church in Monte Carlo. It was built from 1879 to 1883, under the reign of Prince Charles, and was designed by architect Charles Lenormand in a French, neo-Renaissance style. The church honours St. Charles Borromeo, who was the patron saint of the Prince.

It stands on the site previously occupied by the chapel of Saint-Laurent, on the land once owned by the affluent Blanc family. Initially a chapel, the Saint-Charles was made a parish church in 1887.

Relatively small in size, the building is distinct for its bell tower, rising to 108 feet above sea level and topped by a cupola. Somewhat simple on the outside, the interior is grand with 19 masterly crafted stained glass windows and 17th century carvings, brought over from the church of Saint-Nicolas in Monaco Town, prior to its being replaced by Monaco Cathedral. Other highlights include 17th century gilded wooden altar, adorned with cabled columns, statues of saints and sculpted images of Christ; and the Virgin Mary altar, highly praised for its artistic value at the Vienna Exhibition.

The church has a strong musical tradition and hosted many choir recordings over the years. It has an organ, produced by M.Merklin, dating back to 1884.

In 1983, the building's stonework underwent thorough renovation to mend the decades-long damage caused by sea air.
Jardin Japonais de Monaco

5) Jardin Japonais de Monaco (must see)

The Japanese Garden of Monaco is an oasis of tranquillity amid the bustling Monte Carlo city. The garden was created by Japanese landscape architect Yasuo Beppu at the request of Prince Rainier III. It spans 7,000 square meters and took three years to build. The garden opened in 1994, thus fulfilling the life-long dream of Princess Grace, aka Grace Kelly, a Hollywood star and the mother of the current monarch of Monaco, Prince Albert II.

In accordance with Japanese tradition, the garden is asymmetrical in structure and appears quasi-natural, replete with vegetation, comprising a variety of plant species from different parts of the globe, including the Mediterranean, South America, Australia, Africa and Asia. A centrepiece of the garden is an 1100 square metre artificial lake.

Another notable thing about the garden is location. It is laid out over a concrete roof of a coach car park. Unlike the plants, all the man-made features within the garden, such as the gates, fences, tiles and lanterns, have been brought over from Japan.

The garden offers a peaceful, green retreat from the stone-, steel- and glass clad setting of Monaco. Perhaps the only thing not quite Japanese here is the lack of fog, which is richly compensated for by the Mediterranean sun, casting warm light upon the garden's every minute detail.
Avenue de Monte Carlo

6) Avenue de Monte Carlo (must see)

Avenue de Monte Carlo is a celebrated street, which houses a vast majority of the prestigious shops. On Avenue de Monte Carlo, tourists may visit Hermes, Gucci, Valentino, and Lalique. Be sure that Avenue de Monte Carlo provides the world’s most elite and exclusive collections.
Port Hercule

7) Port Hercule (must see)

One of the most scenic harbors in the world, Port Hercule, in the La Condamine district of Monaco, is home to a variety of vessels, from small sailboats to luxurious mega-yachts. The harbor is even deep enough to accommodate massive cruise ships. Though used since ancient times, the modern port dates to 1926. There are amusement rides beside the harbor, including a Ferris wheel and carousel. In winter, there’s an ice skating rink. Port Hercule has appeared in various movies, most notably as a backdrop for James Bond in "GoldenEye".

Why You Should Visit:
Glamour people, glamour limousines, glamour parties, glamour atmosphere, glamour air!
The harbor itself is compact, scenic, great for walking, and a destination for foodies.

Take some snacks and a drink (you are allowed to and it saves queuing), and sit on the bench taking in the scenery! Very relaxing.
Visit during both the day and night, but make sure you wear comfortable shoes as the walk towards the harbour has steep slopes.
Sainte-Dévote Chapel

8) Sainte-Dévote Chapel (must see)

Sainte-Dévote Chapel is a Roman Catholic church nestled on the first corner of the Monaco GP circuit, overlooking the harbour. The temple is dedicated to Devota (Dévote), the patron saint of Monaco, and is one of the most venerated religious sites in the area, attributed with miraculous powers.

According to local legend, partially supported by 17th-18th-century documents, Devota was a young Christian woman from Corsica, who was ruthlessly murdered for her faith by Roman rulers circa 303 AD. Legend has it that her body arrived in a small boat that was bound for Africa but accidentally, or perhaps through divine intervention, was diverted to the Monegasque shore by a changed headwind.

The original church on the site, which is currently occupied by the Chapel of Relics and is “propped up” by the wall of Vallon des Gaumates, was part of the Saint-Pons abbey. The first mention of it dates back to 1070. In 1870, a 15-meter bell tower was built. Later on, between 1885 and 1891, the Sainte-Dévote was further remodelled by architect Charles Lenormand who gave it a new, 18th-century Neo-Greek style façade. The stained glass windows, works of Maison Nicolas Lorin of Chartres, were seriously damaged during WWII bombing in August 1944. Some of them, including the one depicting Saint Dévote, were restored in 1948 by Maison Fassi Cadet of Nice.

Today, in keeping with a local tradition, after the royal wedding, the bride of the Sovereign Prince leaves her bridal bouquet at the chapel. Inside the place is remarkably peaceful and quiet, a stark contrast to the outside noise. The interior of the church is ornate and very tasteful.

Why You Should Visit:
Open at any time of the day and free to enter, this church overwhelms with its serenity and the quietness, especially after leaving the noisy city streets.

Behind the chapel, you can follow the path through a series of steps literally carved into the rock cliff to get to the upper side of town (or use the lifts of the train station if feeling less adventurous).
Jardin Exotique de Monaco

9) Jardin Exotique de Monaco (must see)

The Jardin Exotique de Monaco (French for "exotic garden of Monaco") is a botanical garden located on a cliffside in Monaco. It was opened in 1933, and has a rich collection of over a thousand species of succulent plants, especially cactuses. At the foot of the cliff, ranging in altitude between 98 and 40 metres, there is a large natural underground cave with caverns displaying many stalagmites and stalactites, draperies and columns. It was opened to the public in 1950, but can only be visited with specialized guides. Evidence of prehistoric human inhabitants has been found in the cave. There is a museum of Prehistoric Anthropology within the Exotic Garden displaying many of those prehistoric remains. It was founded by Prince Albert I in 1902.
Prince's Palace of Monaco

10) Prince's Palace of Monaco (must see)

The official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, this palace was built in 1191 as a Genoese fortress, and during its long and often dramatic history, it has been bombarded and besieged by many foreign powers. Since the end of the 13th century, it has been the stronghold and home of the Grimaldi family who first captured it in 1297. The Grimaldi ruled the area first as feudal lords, and from the 17th century as sovereign princes, but their power was often derived from fragile agreements with their larger and stronger neighbours.

Thus while other European sovereigns were building luxurious, modern Renaissance and Baroque palaces, politics and common sense demanded that the palace of the Monegasque rulers be fortified. This unique requirement, at such a late stage in history, has made the palace at Monaco one of the most unusual in Europe. Indeed, when its fortifications were finally relaxed during the late 18th century, it was seized by the French and stripped of its treasures, and fell into decline, while the Grimaldi were exiled for over 20 years.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the palace and its owners became symbols of the slightly risqué glamour and decadence that were associated with Monte Carlo and the French Riviera. Glamour and theatricality became reality when the American film star Grace Kelly became a chatelaine of the palace in 1956. In the 21st century, the palace remains the residence of the current Prince of Monaco and is open to the public during the summer months.

Why You Should Visit:
Nestled into the oldest part of the city-state, Monaco-Ville's medieval roots are still visible, making it a particularly picturesque spot.
Even though only the ceremonial parts are publicly accessible, the tour is worth taking as the crowds are small so you can move freely through the gorgeous rooms.

Aim to see the change of guards in front of the Palace, which occurs at 11:55am daily (make sure you arrive early).
Tour tickets can be combined with tickets to view the Prince's car collection or the Oceanographic Museum.
There are tons of cafes and shops between the bus stop and the palace, great for a before or after break.
If you are in Monaco during summer (July, August), do not miss the wonderful summer concerts in the Palace.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm (Apr-Jun, Sep-Oct), 10am-7pm (July-Aug)
Last admission 30 mins before closing time
Monaco Cathedral

11) Monaco Cathedral (must see)

The Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate (French: Cathédrale de Notre-Dame-Immaculée), but sometimes called Saint Nicholas Cathedral (name of the old church which was demolished in 1874), Monaco Cathedral (French: Cathédrale de Monaco), is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco in Monaco-Ville, Monaco, where many of the Grimaldis were buried, including Grace Kelly and—more recently—Rainier III.

The cathedral was built in 1875–1903 and consecrated in 1911, and is on the site of the first parish church in Monaco built in 1252 and dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Of note are the retable (circa 1500) to the right of the transept, the Great Altar and the Episcopal throne in white Carrara marble.

Pontifical services take place on the major religious festivals, such as the Feast of Sainte Dévote (27 January) and the national holiday (19 November). On feast days and during religious music concerts, one can hear the magnificent four-keyboard organ, inaugurated in 1976.

From September through June, “Les Petits Chanteurs de Monaco” and the singers of the Cathedral Choir School sing during Mass every Sunday at 10am. Mass is also celebrated here each year on 6 December, when primary children gather for a joyful remembrance of St. Nicholas' life.

Why You Should Visit:
If you're a Princess Grace buff, there's a nice memory of her and Prince Rainier here.
The interior is beautiful and excess-free. The cathedral's organ is an amazing sight to see.

Opening hours are restricted but either the opening or closing half-hour is enough time to tour this place, without the hassle of noisy touring parties.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Fri: 9am-6pm;
Oceanographic Museum

12) Oceanographic Museum (must see)

The Oceanographic Museum is a museum of marine sciences in Monaco-Ville inaugurated in 1910 by Monaco's modernist reformer, Prince Albert I. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was director from 1957 to 1988. The Museum celebrated its centenary in March 2010, after extensive renovations. This monumental architectural work of art has an impressive façade above the sea, towering over the sheer cliff face to a height of 279 feet (85.04 m). It took 11 years to build.

The museum is home to exhibitions and collections of sea fauna and of sea related objects, including model ships, sea animal skeletons, tools and weapons. An aquarium in the basement of the museum presents four thousand species of fish and over 200 families of invertebrates. Lately, there has been an increased representation of Mediterranean and tropical marine ecosystems.

The permanent exhibition, "A Sailor’s Career" showcases the work of Prince Albert I. It includes the laboratory from L’Hirondelle, the first of Prince Albert's research yachts. Observations made there led to an understanding of the phenomenon of anaphylaxis, for which Dr Charles Richet received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1913.

Why You Should Visit:
While the big tanks are a big part of the attraction, this is not simply an aquarium destination; there is so much more to see, including the skeleton room and the maritime curiosities section.

Try to see the back part of the building from the sea level – it's amazing!
Be sure to visit the rooftop terrace for exceptional views of the surrounding area and also make your way down to sea level where you can see how this entire structure was built into a rock cliff.
There's a combined ticket for this Museum and the Prince Palace which costs about €20, so if you are going to visit both, that would be a better choice.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm (Jan-Mar, Oct-Dec); 10am-7pm (Apr-Jun, Sep); 9:30am-8-pm (Jul-Aug)
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Create Your Own Walk in Monte-Carlo

Create Your Own Walk in Monte-Carlo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Monte-Carlo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Monte-Carlo Specialty Shops

Monte-Carlo Specialty Shops

Monte-Carlo’s specialty shops provide a unique shopping experience. Fans of the famous Monaco car races will find a nice collection of Boutique Formule 1 and La Boutique Officielle. However, Monte-Carlo specialty shops are not limited to the above. The shops also feature a great collection of Monegasque and Provençale arts and crafts.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Monte-Carlo Shopping Districts

Monte-Carlo Shopping Districts

If you ever want proof that Monte-Carlo is the fashion capital of the world, you must visit the luxury shopping districts. Monte-Carlo offers a plethora of elite and exclusive couture shops as well as glamorous boutiques.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles