Hey everybody! My Mom and I finished our vacation in the French Riviera with 2 days in Monte Carlo. It is a beautiful place! Approximately 45 minutes from Nice by bus, Monaco consists of 3 distinct tourist areas: Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo, and La Condamine. Most of this small country was built on a cliff. The streets are a bit narrow and since it’s built into a cliff, things seem a little congested but it is breathtaking so you sort of just overlook that. This place has a very distinct feeling of “money”…people have it. That is obvious. For me and my poor little pockets, well…I was pretending 🙂
When taking the bus from Nice, you will ride along the Low Corniche. If you want to take the route all the way to Menton (like we inadvertently did), it takes just an hour. You pass thru the beautiful villages of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cap Ferrat, and Beauliu-sur-Mer on your way to Monte Carlo.
Once we arrived in Monaco, we checked into our FABULOUS hotel, the Monte Carlo Bay Resort & Hotel. The resort has a casino, gym (with free personal trainers) and a spa. I was able to hit the gym and get a good 45 minute run in before hitting the casino. My absolute favorite thing about Monte Carlo? THE CINQ MONDES SPA! OMG, this place is heaven on earth. Seriously. The purpose of our visit to Monte Carlo was to gamble & spend a day at the spa. Well, we lost at the casino (I love roulette and my numbers weren’t hitting all night…and I just knew I was about to hit it big and live the life of a newly rich jetsetting diva…but, it apparently wasn’t meant to be that day *sobs*). On the plus side, the spa more than made up for it.
I’ve been to countless spas and this has to be the absolute best in my opinion. We started out in the hammam to relax prior to our spa services. My first service was the “Aromas & Flowers Japanese Bath” — and it was the most fabulous thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was like Christmas! The Japanese Bath is essentially a big wooden tub that traps heat so the water never gets cold. You step into the tub of very warm water, then you have aromatherapy oils poured over you in the water. Once that is complete, rose petals are sprinkled on top of you. Next, the masseuse places a pillow under your neck and proceeds to give you a scalp and neck massage. Afterwards, you are left alone for about 15 minutes to relax. Once you are fully rested, the masseuse brings you peach tea, honey and dried fruit to snack on while still in the bath. Um, seriously…did I mention this was HEAVEN? Because it is. I do not think I will be able to replicate this in my own tub with some Calgon & Lipton. You already know I was notating everything because my next home needs a relaxation room like this.
After the Japanese Bath, I had an Oriental Massage which was basically laying on hot towels being massaged with warm oils. Total bliss. Once the services were over, I was taken to the “Relaxation Room” to lay down with more peach tea & honey. I would go back to Monte Carlo just for the spa. It was that fabulous. Want to know more about this fabulous resort? Check out my hotel review here.
The next day, Mom and I head out to do some sightseeing. We decided to take the bus from the hotel around this “city”. Word of caution…if you don’t speak French, you may be a bit challenged as there are no English translations and it’s not really clear where the stops are.
Monaco-Ville is the oldest section of Monaco and contains the Royal Palace, the Cathedral (which holds the tombs of Prince Rainier & Princess Grace), the Cousteau Aquarium, and the Exotic Gardens (pictures are in the slideshow below).
The district of Monte Carlo is the area around the famous Monte Carlo Casino (which has a cover charge and dress code). The area is absolutely gorgeous but it is very tight & congested since everything is built very close together. It’s also very expensive. Breakfast was 35 euro/per person…and this was a continental breakfast. Once you get over the sticker shock, you can really enjoy it and see that it is a wonderful place to visit.
The were a couple of cool sculptures across the street from the casino (which remind me of sculptures I saw in Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway).
Overall, the French Riviera was really nice and a wonderful experience. I can only imagine how wonderful it is when the temperatures allow you to get in the water. Nice was my favorite city as it lends itself to a lot to do. Monte Carlo is nice…but I would suggest that you day trip over from Nice. It’s not really worth 2 days unless you want to stretch it out. Cannes…that was one of those places where I can say I’ve been there. But, not interested in going back as there really isn’t much there to see.
Here are some of my favorite photos: