Four go mad in Monaco #thejamesway
If you’re a regular reader here then you’ll remember that as part of our family holiday in the South of France recently I planned some day trips that I was really looking forward to – and Monaco was definitely one of them.
The jewel in the Cote d’Azur crown this tiny principality (the second smallest ‘country’ in the World after the Vatican) is the home to the famous road Grand Prix and we set of the day after the race to see the aftermath and hopefully catch a glimpse of the glitz and glamour that it attracts.
From our base at Villa Camiole it was only a short one hour drive to Monaco through the beautiful Provence countryside.
Top tip #1: When you’re driving to Monaco make sure you have Euro change handy for the tolls.
Thanks to my superb navigating *ahem* we took a wrong turn while looking for some shady underground parking and found ourselves on the race grid! Woo hoo! The husband was so excited he forgave me instantly and we revelled in the sights and sounds of the clear-up that had started that morning and wouldn’t finish for another three weeks.
Monaco has been home to this spectacular race since 1929 with over 200k spectators and 2000 people helping it to run smoothly.
Top tip #2: When you’re sightseeing in the South of France use underground parking so that you have a cool car (and usually some decent toilets) to come back to.
Once we’d finally parked at Condamine (Euro 15,80 for the day and near to some rather special Ferrari’s!) we set off up the hill to the Oceanographic Museum and wonderful little Monaco Tours trains which are located right next to each other.
The Little Man’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw the bright red train. We jumped on board and set off for a 30 minute trip around Monaco taking in the sights and sounds of the city and learning loads from the on-board commentary.
We passed the Grand Prix circuit, Place du Casino (where James Hunt famously retired by just parking his car and walking into the Casino – so cool), the Old Town, the harbour (built in the early 20th century by Prince Albert I and home to the most expensive yachts in the World) and of course the Royal Palace.
Incidentally there are hidden CCTV cameras everywhere in Monaco – so you have to look your best at all times!
Unbelievably while we were on the train I spied a good friend from my PR days, and one of my bridesmaids many moons ago, and after shrieking a bit I uttered the immortal words “we have to do lunch darling!” It felt so appropriate in Monaco! We hastily booked somewhere to meet up for a drink later on.
After the train ride we wandered into the Oceanographic Museum which houses an amazing collection of artifacts and was founded in 1906 by Prince Albert I, a keen oceanographer who led 28 scientific expeditions and had a keen interest in travel and science from an early age.
The little people were most interested in the aquarium in the basement so we headed downstairs and marvelled in the wonderful selection of fish, sharks and other stunning sea creatures.
Top tip #3: The aquarium has a good baby change facility if you’re visiting with babies or toddlers.
It was lunchtime by this point and with rumbling tummies we took the lift up to the roof terrace for a delicious lunch and the some spectacular views out to sea. There’s also a free fun playground for children to run off any extra energy in the sunshine while you finish your glass of wine!
Even the seagulls pose in Monaco!
Top tip #4: If you visit the Oceanographic Museum have lunch on the terrace – they have the most delicious fresh fish, generous salads, children’s meals and a playground.
After lunch we took the rather-longer-than-anticipated walk back down the hill and around the bay to Cafe de Paris at Place du Casino for drinks with my friend Caroline, co-owner of Munro Studios who make the most amazing 3D photo realistic CGI’s and cinematic animations. It was so lovely to see her and her fiance and the little people feasted on ice-cream (and played with my phone!) while we chatted in the sunshine.
All too soon it was time to head back to our lovely cool car and James Villas home-from-home but we couldn’t resist walking along the pit lane and taking one last long look at the amazing view and million dollar yachts moored in the harbour.