Monaco

If there was ever a country without shame, it’s Monaco. It vaunts and flaunts down the catwalk of the continent, showing the rest of us exactly what it is that money can buy. It is a cash delta and the unsurprising envy of the business world. Like water, money slips through our fingers seemingly without a trace. Well, if money had a drain pipe it would lead to Monaco. – www.startupoverseas.co.uk 

I visited Monaco in May of 2014 after intending to earlier in the year during my first trip to Nice but not making it. I was determined to during my second visit to there and made it a priority.

The principality of Monaco is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican although I have my doubts to its credentials. There are more foreigners than Monégasques. This is not unique, several Middle Eastern countries have this attribute, but just 16% of the population are born here with foreigners making up 84%. Monaco is known particularly as a tax haven for companies, tax avoiding individuals, the highest property prices in the world and ‘high class’ (e.g. high price) prostitutes. A very interesting documentary on Monaco can be found on YouTube

You can arrive here from Nice by train, bus (which has beautiful views of the French Riviera) or in style by helicopter.
The history of Monaco itself is quite interesting ever since Francesco Grimaldi arrived disguised as a Monk carrying a dagger in his clothing snatched the rock of Monaco by guile and force but it wasn’t until later that the Grimaldi family were able to establish the rule over the country they still hold to this day.

However the country itself was far from a resounding success at the beginning. The nearby towns of Menton and Rocquebrune were oce part part of Monaco. It lost these to France yet managed to retain its own independence. Then with the Grimaldi family on the verge of bankruptcy they came up with the idea of a casino. The idea was so financially successful that it transformed Monaco into the wealthy country it is today. In fact until recently it was the main financial income for the principality.

The Monte Carlo Casino is a major tourist attraction and draw. I did not enter the casino itself but entered the grounds outside. A large amount of tourists congregate to take pictures of the casino and the luxury cars driving by. An expensive BMW here just seemed out of place when Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis drive by at high frequency. I even saw a gold Bentley . Monaco epitomises luxury. According to the Piers Morgan documentary one needs ten million (pounds sterling) to be considered as made it here. As a tourist it would be hard to experience the real Monaco as a local easier as one of the ‘great unwashed’

Well as a tourist Monaco has its attractions, the Old Town is pleasant as those in the French Riviera. Here you can actually eat for quite a bit cheaper than Cannes (In general Monaco is very expensive).

The highlight of Monaco for me however is the Musee Oceanographique. At 14 Euros (May 2014) it is not cheap, however it is worth every Euro. Impressive in scale and variety, the aquarium also has a view from the roof and also the chance to touch baby sharks!

There are a lot of good tourist sites about Monaco and it makes an interesting if (potentially) very expensive visit from Nice