June 6, 2109
Our plan for today was a tour to Eze and Nice, France. Unfortunately we got word a couple of days ago that it was cancelled. So we were just going to go out on our own and perhaps catch a taxi to Eze. It turned out that Norm was feeling a bit under the weather, and at breakfast we sat with Mike and Maralyn, and she was also a bit under the weather. So they had an extra ticket to the Monaco excursion and I accepted it with pleasure!
We haven’t been here in many years, so I was pleased to go. Here is the view as we sail in.
Monte Carlo is an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco widely known for its casino and Riviera location. It is home to the Circuit de Monaco on which the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix takes place.
Our guide was Gloria.
She told us about the Grand Prix as we traveled on the same road that the race is held on. The cars travel at a speed of 150 K/hour and go around the road track 78 times. It was just held on May 26. They are still taking the viewing stands down.
We also learned that Monaco is the second smallest country. The Vatican is first. It is 2 square kilometers (1 1/2 square miles) or 486 acres in size. To put this into another perspective, the whole country would fit into London’s Hyde Park. They are adding almost 15 acres in reclaimed land and are working on it now.
The population here is 38,000 of which 9,000 are citizens. Citizens don’t pay any income or property tax but French Nationals do pay tax to the French government. Everyone pays the VAT tax of 19.6% which Gloria says contributes 52% of Monaco’s income.
People who work here cannot afford to live here. They live in close by Italy or France. Gloria is from Italy which is 20 miles away.
She said that housing can cost up to $70,000/square meter which is just over 10 square feet. She is asked why, if you pay that much, wouldn’t you buy a castle instead? She says when you pay that much, you already have a castle!
They have the largest number of yachts in the world and indeed the harbor is full of them.
There is an interesting sailing yacht called the “Sailing Yacht A” which cost 400 million Euros to build (that is 20 million/guest!!) It is owned by the Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko.
Our first stop was the Grand Casino. It was established in the mid 19th century by Prince Charles III and is the most famous casino in the world. It was established to fund the small principality of Monte Carlo. The façade is neoclassical with an array of angels along the rooftop.
You must be appropriately dressed even when the casino isn’t open (and it is open for slots at 10 AM and tables at 2) and you have to pay a fee of 17 Euros just to enter. We were informed that video and photography are always prohibited but when we got there we learned that we could take pictures since a conference was taking place there. What a bonus because the interior would otherwise be hard to describe and if you go, you most likely wouldn’t be able to take pictures!
Here are the rules and the map of the interior.
Here are just some of the pictures. There is a guided tour recording to describe the art, etc. Amazing, like no casino I have ever seen! No time to stay for gambling but I would probably be too intimidated anyway. These have to be HIGH rollers.
In case you need a jacket…
And the front view of the casino.
The conference is the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year. EY is celebrating the inspirational journeys of 60 entrepreneurs from 51 countries at the 14th World Entrepreneur Of The Year here at the Grand Casino. Here are some of the signs and sidewalk sayings. Very coach-like!
I visited the Saint Nicholas Cathedral (Cathedral of Monaco) where the first church was built in the 13th century but had to be torn down due to deterioration. The new church was built by Charles III in 1875. Here are some views of the interior, including the tombs of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. They were also married in this church.
Places to visit next time include the Oceanographic Museum which was the vision of Prince Albert I. The museum is a repository for Jacques Cousteau’s original equipment. He was the museum director for many years. The yellow submarine that he used is outside the museum.
I also didn’t go inside the Palace of the Prince – not enough time to appreciate it. It was the target of many attacks over the centuries. The Grimaldi family had to act diplomatically to maintain the tiny kingdom and they are still the royal family although it is now a constitutional monarchy. In the 17th century Prince Honore II began transforming the castle into a palace. The part that looks old is actually the newest addition. ??? Why??
We did see the changing of the guard at 11:55 which is a 10 minute ceremony. The flag was flying but Gloria says that even though it traditionally meant that the Prince Albert II was in residence, he doesn’t want people to know if he is or he isn’t so we can’t go by the flag!
Here are some scenes of Monte Carlo.
Many expensive cars too.
Lots of great food and gelato here!
This is how you call a taxi here?
Norm was entertained all day from our balcony – the “yacht police” control traffic into the marina and boats are in and out all day. We spotted these sailors late in the day.
Nice visit and more to do next time! Including Eze I hope. We loved that place when we were here many years ago.