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Monaco - How the French Riviera Captured my Heart

Monaco made it to my bucket list after I watched the film Grace of Monaco in 2014; a biographical drama *based on a time in the life of former American actress, Grace Patricia Kelly. Grace became Princess consort of Monaco following her union in marriage to Prince Rainier III, who she had met at the Cannes Film Festival in April of 1955. Of course, Cannes is also on the French Riviera, so I would hazard a guess and say just as the Riviera captured my heart, it did the award-winning actress’s too.

Here’s a rundown of things you will want to add to your “to do in Monaco” list:

Oceanographic Museum

This museum which opens daily, save for Christmas day and the Grand Prix weekend, is perfect for travelers with a passion for ocean life. If you're travelling with kids, the aquariums in this museum will make it to their list of favourite treats. Tickets start as low as 5 EUR for kids, 7 EUR for students and teenagers, and 10 EUR for adults.

Saint Martin Gardens

Take a walk through these beautiful gardens which are a winding path between the Oceanographic Museum and the Prince's Palace of Monaco. If you're like me you will want to make it a relaxed stroll, stop to smell the flowers, and take in the ocean views from the main lookout where you'll find a statue of Prince Albert I. The main highlight of my stroll was discovering Tulips! Most girls might say roses are their favourite flower. I've always been a little different. Despite never having seen one with my own eyes, tulips have always been my favorite. I might have caught a glimpse of a bouquet in a shop in South Africa, but that could have been a dream. This however, I am sure of, and I have photos to remind me of the "historic" moment: In Saint Martin Gardens, I finally saw, touched and breathed in the scent of Tulips!

Prince's Palace of Monaco

This for me was top of the list. If not for the inspiration and my intrigue by Grace Patricia Kelly, then to catch a glimpse into the life of royals. It was well worth the time. Unfortunately taking photos inside the palace is forbidden, but you can see a few here. Hire an audio guide for your visit. This is always my preference over a guided tour because it allows me to move at my own pace, and rewind when I need to. While the Prince's Palace is a private residence, there is a State Apartment section which is open to the public from March to October (closed during the Grand Prix). Visit the official website for detailed opening hours information.

Monaco Top Cars Collection

This must visit houses Prince Rainier III's impressive, well kept, personal collection of about 100 vintage vehicles. The collection constitutes models by the most prestigious vehicle manufacturers. Allow yourself to get lost in the magnificence of the collection. It's like an automobile time travel machine. A perfect playground for car lovers and Formula 1 fans alike! A combo ticket to tour the Prince's Palace of Monaco and the MTCC will cost you just 11.50 EUR. The "museum" is open 7 days a week from 10 in the morning to 1800 hrs. The only exception is 25 December on which it is closed.

Circuit de Monaco

Circuit de Monaco is a 3.337 KM street circuit, popular for hosting the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix which Schumacher has won five times. The race which has been hosted here since 1950 usually takes place in May each year. Tickets for the 2019 championships are available here.

Enjoy this panoramic view from just outside the Prince's Palace of Monaco. If you take a very close look, you will spot Circuit de Monaco.

Bonus Tip

If you're travelling from Antibes, leaving for Monaco early will give you ample time to make a stop in Eze, a medieval hilltop village which offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean. Eze is fairly small and quaint, with cobble stoned streets and an interesting array of cactus plants. An early start also gives you time to make random stops along the way and take in views like the one below.

Sadly all the photos I took with that camera got lost somewhere between downloading to my laptop, and formatting the disc :( Tips to avoid these blunders anyone? I'd be grateful.

*The accuracy of the details in the film has been debated, with some sources including the royal family stating it does not constitute a biopic. This however, does not discredit the inspiration it gave me to travel to Monaco, and I absolutely loved every minute of the day trip.

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