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"A Riviera Must?" Questions about Monaco

Hi everybody,

Poking through my RS France guidebook and rewatching the French Riviera episode, I was a little surprised that he refers to Monaco as a Riviera "must." It just doesn't seem like his kind of place and makes me wonder what I'm missing. It looks like I'll have a little more time than expected at the end of my RS Loire/South of France tour (probably an extra full day). To those familiar with the area, is it worth a day (or afternoon) trip? This will be late June.

The oceanographic museum sounds interesting, but (for me) probably not enough to justify the visit. Despite a childhood affection for the princely family (as a little girl in the U.S. in the 1980s, there was nobody else named Caroline, and everybody mispronounced my name as "Caro-lynn," so magazine covers featuring Princess Caroline always made me smile), the palace and the cathedral don't really sound like "must sees." I'm not interested in the casino, and Nice will furnish plenty of opportunities for covetous luxury-brand window-shopping ;). I admit that I am the kind of person who would go to the TI for a passport stamp, but I wouldn't make a journey just for that.

For other context, I'm a history, culture, food tour kind of gal, but don't have a ton of extra money to throw around. I'm not a sun worshipper, so beaches aren't a priority. Right now, my tentative plan, after leaving Nice, is to take the train to Trieste and hopefully snag a seat with a good view.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated, thanks!
Caroline

P.S. Just for the record, I do know that Monaco is not in France, but there's not a separate Monaco section. Apologies to any Monegasques who may frequent these boards. ;)

Posted by
21062 posts

Is "Trieste" perhaps a typo? That's a very, very long train ride away.

I can't answer your question about Monaco because I skipped it, too, despite spending 2 weeks in Nice back in 2017. I really don't have an interest in going somewhere just to say I've been, and it just doesn't sound all that interesting to me. Heaven knows, I'm not interested in the price's car collection, and there's a very good aquarium just 40 miles from me up in Baltimore. Monaco does have one or two gardens, though, which might be enough to tempt me if I return to that part of France.

Posted by
4691 posts

I visited Monaco as a day trip from Nice. It was a pleasant enough visit, but I wouldn’t call it a ”must”. We limited ourselves to the old town.

Posted by
501 posts

I wasn't clear on what you would want to do instead? Take a day trip Antibes? Leave early for your next destination?

Monaco does have an excellent Oceanographic Museum, the lovely gardens, and a nice old town near the Palace. I will be honest, it is not one of my favorites but a check list item for many. If you are a fan of Michelin star cuisine, there are six choices, of course a very high concentration.

Posted by
274 posts

Thanks, everybody, for your replies! Sounds like I won't regret skipping Monaco and that an extra day would be well spent in Nice.

And no, Trieste wasn't a typo, and it is a long ride (11 hours, with 2-3 changes), but I really enjoy trains. ;) My mother and I went from NYC to LA (and back) on Amtrak when I was in kindergarten and my love for trains was born! I'm still not sure what possessed her to make that trip with a five-year-old, but I had a blast. These days, I particularly enjoy a long train ride after a more hectic period of traveling. I find it really relaxing to just read, journal, look out the window, nap guilt-free if I want to, etc., and generally mentally "catch my breath" before the next adventure.

That said, now that I won't have to rush on to Trieste, I may break it up and spend the night, probably somewhere after Milan. Guess it's time to review my "someday" notes on Padua and Vicenza.

Caroline

Posted by
27718 posts

I happen to like Monaco very much but since you have dismissed it I won't put up my usual list.

Wow, Trieste - that's one long trip. An hour in France and then coast to coast in Italy - wow... The most I've ever done side-to-side in Italy is Milan to Venice.

Posted by
21062 posts

As someone looking at 14 hours on trains in Norway, I'm certainly not going to try to talk you out of that, but there are lots of interesting places along the way that would be worth seeing. In addition to the places you mentioned, you could consider Bergamo with it's lovely hilltop medieval district. It means switching to a secondary rail line in Venice [No! You switch in Milan--mental hiccup!], but you'd still be traveling in the right direction. (I assume you've been to Verona already.)

Posted by
3458 posts

I liked a day spent there , While we didn't go in , The Casino was interesting , as I am a lover of architecture ( It is the work of Charles Garnier , designer of The Paris Opera ) The English author , W. Somerset Maugham , lived in nearby Cap Ferrat , and once observed that " Monaco is a sunny place for shady people "

Posted by
18 posts

I am very glad we went many years ago (2002). Took our two sons and we saw the palace, the million dollar yacht harbor, and the casino. ( I wanted to go in but forgot my passport!) It is one of those places where you can say “I’ve been to Monaco”, so if you have time, I would go! Glad we did!

Posted by
1117 posts

I found Monaco to be a total snooze fest both times I went. I suppose if I was a milliardaire I might feel differently.

Posted by
1733 posts

We can say we’ve been and that’s about it. So not impressed. Reading between the lines of your post, I suspect that your time and money will be better spent elsewhere. A visit to Eze Le Village or the Villa Ephrussi would be a far better way to spend your time.

Posted by
7694 posts

A better day trip east of Nice is to Cap Ferrat, visit Villa Ephrussi, east by bus along the coast. Include a visit to Villa Kerylos too. All easy to access by walking.

Posted by
2311 posts

We stayed for 2 extra nights after our Loire tour and took the train to Menton one morning and then on the way back we got off and explored every time the train stopped. We made a day of it. My favourite was Monaco but I wouldn't consider it a must-see.

Posted by
206 posts

If you would like to say you have been there, I found Monaco quite interesting (for an afternoon)...the marina, the yachts, the palace, the casino, followed by a wonderful meal. If that doesn't sound good, I can second the suggestion for Eze with fantastic views! If you stop 'after Milan' I suggest Como or anywhere in that area.