Whilst I stayed in Nice – I took a day trip to Monaco. You can get a train to Monaco for less than 9 EUR a day. I opted to go for a walking tour that included the train fare in the price.
This was a big day for me and I was really excited as I have been a big fan of Formula One since I was 15 years old. To go from seeing it on TV to seeing the street track in real life was such a dream come true.
We were met by our tour guide outside Nice train station. There were a few interesting people on the tour – a couple from Canada, and two girls from the US.
It happened to be the hottest day of the year as the heatwave swept through the South of France, our relief was getting onto an air-conditioned train. The tip from our tour guide was to sit on the right side as we would get the best views. He wasn’t kidding – the beach views were amazing!
Monte Carlo Casino
We arrived in Monaco and was given a brief history of the principality. A few minutes from the train station is the world-famous Casino – that has been featured in the James Bond movies such as Never Say Never Again.
We went inside the Casino and you definitely got the feeling of being in a region of prestige and wealth as Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s passed you through the Casino square. But I was most excited for the famous chicane on the Grand Prix track.
The Casino is a stunning building, we were only allowed in the foyer but what we saw of it was incredible. You could go for coffee or a drink in the bar but it was pricey at 15 EUR for a drink.
Chapelle Sainte Devote
We then moved onto the Chapelle Sainte Devote. This is the church that is devoted to the Patron Saint of Monaco, Saint Devota. The story is that Devota was a Corsican woman in 283AD, who was very devoted and loyal to her faith. She was imprisoned, tortured and killed during the Diocletian persecution.
Upon her burial, the governor wanted her body to be burnt but Christians rescued it and placed it on a boat in the direction of Africa, but the boat was caught in a storm, where a dove appeared and guided the boat to Monaco. This chapel has been built in Saint Devota’s honour.
We made our way to a market a short distance from the Chapelle, where we had a break and ate some lunch.
Prince's Palace of Monaco
We then head up the hill where we walked past the memorial statue of Prince Albert of Monaco Rainier III, who was one of the longest-ruling Monarchs with 56 years’ of service.
The view from the top of the hill is astonishing. At the top of the hill is the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, where we witnessed the change of the guard.
We moved on and passing the Musee Oceanographic de Monaco – the museum that was founded by Prince Albert I, which includes an aquarium and exhibitions.
We moved onto the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate, Monaco’s main Cathedral. We couldn’t enter inside as a private funeral was taking place. Instead, we walked through the Jardin de St Martin, which was beautiful and this is where our tour ended. Juan Manuel Fangio On our way back to the train station, I stopped at the Juan Manuel Fangio statue, which is a bus stop! Fangio was an Argentine racing driver, who won the Formula One World Championship five times. This record was not beaten for 46 years later where Michael Schumacher won his fifth title in 2002. He also won the Monaco Grand Prix. The most amazing part of this record was that Fangio did this with four different teams, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati. This was a time where motorsport was very highly dangerous and drivers were killed in every race. He died in 1995 at the age of 84. This statue is one of six in his honour.
The Grand Prix The Monaco Grand Prix has been running since 1929 and is held as a street circuit. As a result, the track is narrow with limited overtaking. It is exciting because it is a prestigious circuit and if you win the Prince of Monaco presents the winning trophy on the podium. There are many parties over the course of the weekend as well. Winners include “Mr Monaco” Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Gilles Villeneuve and my driver Jenson Button.
What I learnt about Monaco Monaco is a principality and in order to live there, you will need to buy a property in Monaco, make a non-returnable payment of half a million euros and have your residency signed by the Prince in person. Residents are not allowed to gamble at the Casino in order to keep the wealth in Monaco. Monaco was a once in a lifetime experience and the bonus was to be able to do this on a budget. I would recommend the tour as I personally wouldn’t know where to start.