Off The Roof
SWANKIER THAN THE RIVIERA
Monaco is only half the size of New York’s Central Park. But within its confines live twelve thousand millionaires!
YOUR GUIDE TO MONACO
From its perch on the French Riviera facing the Mediterranean Sea, the teeny tiny principality of Monaco remains surrounded by France on its other three sides. Unless you’re a geography buff, or a car afficionado, or simply lucky to be one of the 38,000 folks living here, chances are that you’ve never heard of this country. The fact is that Monaco remains the second smallest country in the world, right on the heels of Vatican City; interestingly, it also happens to have the second highest per capita income in the world.
It’s a good thing then that in a country where wealth and affluence spill over at every street corner you look, and where every third person is a millionaire, there are things tourists can still do that can be described as free. And this includes all the curious families who get here by driving through France on their day trip. In another quirkiness, the country whose main claim to fame is its casinos, forbid its citizens from gambling here. This, obviously, leaves that vocation to all the foreign visitors who pour into this country.
You'll find Monaco exceedingly palatable if you like glitzy events. Think Grand Prix or Yacht Show, which have been the unvarnished lifeblood of Monaco for a very long time. If your kids don’t feel like making that repeat trip to Disneyland this year, fret not. You can still get them to the French Riviera, and while they’re there, drive them to a once-in-a-lifetime rare visit of the eclectic country of Monaco. Even if you don’t stay there for the night, how cool is it to visit a country whose entirety you can cover by foot as you gently stroll along for a few hours?
Among the many things you’d get to see in this jampacked country – keep in mind that Monaco has one of the highest population densities in the world – are some of the best collection of cars, a legendary casino, a palace, and things more swanky than anything you’ve probably seen in your life.
Once you step inside Monte Carlo, unless you’re oozing with cash, you should indulge in people-watching from a safe spot, or from a casual walk around the square. If, on the other hand, you are in fact oozing with cash, head straight to the fabled casino whose past has tangled itself with the meticulously chosen numbers zero-zero-seven. If you looked hard enough, chances are you’ll run across some famous faces (remember, “Billionaire’s Playground?”). At the very least, you’ll see a head spinning array of cars. If you decide to walk out of the central square and head into the old town, you can easily reach the Prince’s Palace. Whether or not you’re an architecture junkie, you’re bound to fall in love with the breathtaking views of the buildings this spot affords. Not as flashy as in London, right before noon each day, you’d still see one of the traditional rituals of many of the monarchies of Europe, the clockwork Changing of the Guard.
And after seeing all the pomp and grandeur, perhaps there’s hope if you do choose to immigrate to Monaco. As a citizen here, you’ll be the privileged representative in the rarest of rare clubs, one that boasts the longest life expectancy of all the countries on our planet.
Yes, the average person in Monaco lives to be 86 years.
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