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48 Hours In Monaco

By The Bondi Travel Bug on February 19, 2016 in Other

Photo: The Bondi Travel Bug

Photo: The Bondi Travel Bug


48 hours to visit a country, albeit a small one, is an extremely short time, but this isn’t just any country. Situated on the famous French Riviera, Monaco is the second smallest and most densely populated country in the world, with an area of only 2.02 square kilomtres and a population of approximately 37,800.

With only a short period of time to discover this unique country, what better way to maximise your time than to arrive by helicopter?

Flying in from Nice airport takes a breezy seven minutes and the view from the air is nothing short of spectacular, with high-rise hotels, apartment blocks and luxury vessels hugging the Mediterranean coastline.

It’s certainly an extravagant way to arrive, but it will leave you memories that will last a lifetime. The only thing missing on our journey was a throng of paparazzi waiting to greet us on arrival!

Our first taste of life at the Le Meridian Beach Plaza Hotel (the only hotel in Monaco with its own private beach), where we were staying, involved sipping on afternoon cocktails while being taught how to play the ancient game of Pétanque. The hotel has a playing area overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and, with the assistance of the hotel’s sommelier and marketing executive, we dabbled in a lifestyle you normally only dream about.

After our game we decided to explore Monaco by foot, following the coastal path, and it wasn’t long before we were standing on the starting grid where the Formula One championship race is held each year in Monte Carlo, the only F1 street course in the world.

After absorbing the atmosphere, we headed up to the Monte Carlo Casino, one of the country’s greatest attractions. This iconic building is opulent both inside and out and makes you feel like you’re on the set of a James Bond film
(two Bond movies that have actually featured the casino – ‘Never Say Never Again’ and ‘Golden Eye’).

The next day we donned our tourist hats again and with the help of a local guide we started out at the Oceanographic and Marine Science Museum, which is located on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. Built in 1910, it is part museum and part marine science aquarium, and it is definitely worth checking out.

Near the museum are the Saint-Martin Gardens, which extend along the coast around Le Rocher Peninsula, with its steep cliff facing the sea. The gardens are filled with an array of exotic species and vibrant flowers and are a serene oasis.
From here we walked down to old Monaco town (Monaco-Ville) to discover its hidden cobblestone lanes lined with cafes and shops, which eventually lead us to Prince Albert’s Palace. Initially built in 1911 as a Genoese fortress, it’s a dominant building befitting the Prince’s image. Time didn’t allow a tour inside, so we continued our walking tour to a lookout nearby and gawked at the imposing views of Monaco.

Our next stop was a visit to the St. Nicholas Cathedral, where the most beloved Monaco resident, former Hollywood screen legend Princess Grace, and the recently departed Prince Rainer are entombed.

Guided touring is hard work, so we made our way down to the town square, Le Marche de la Condamine, to feast on the local fare. It is here that you get to feel the wonderful vibe this unique country has to offer. There are copious amounts of food outlets and bars to choose from and this is definitely an area where much of your time would be spent if you were a local.
After lunch we made our way back to our hotel to hang out by the pool and our ‘private’ beach, before indulging in a dinner fit for a king in Le Meridian’s restaurant. Magnifique!

While it was brief, it was eventful. And ‘48 Hours In Monaco’ would surely make a great title for the next James Bond movie.

HOW TO GET THERE

Whitestar Travel Bondi – 9130 1345
Vicki Bloomfield at Hello World – 9371 8556

WHERE TO STAY
Le Meridian Beach Plaza Hotel
www.lemeridien.com

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Zelo’s
10 Av. Princesse Grace, 9800
www.zelosworld.com
Brasserie de Monaco
38 Route de la Piscine, 98000 Monaco
www.brasseriedemonaco.com

HELICOPTERS
Heliair-Monaco
+377 92 05 00 50
www.heliairmonaco.com

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