Escorted Rail Tours to Monaco
The tiny yet wealthy Cote d'Azur principality
The principality of Monaco sits on the stunning Côte d'Azur,
surrounded on three sides by France and approximately 10 miles from
Italy. The principality operates as a constitutional monarchy, with
Prince Albert II as the current head of state. Famous as a tax
haven, Monaco enjoys some particularly impressive statistics: it is
the most densely populated country in the world, has the highest
life expectancy (at almost 90 years) and the lowest unemployment
Monaco is officially the second smallest country in the world,
losing out only to Vatican City. Possibly the city's most famous
attraction is the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, where Monaco's
wealthiest residents and visitors watch the high-powered cars
screaming through the city streets from the comfort of their super
yachts moored in the harbour.
Prince Albert's Royal Palace
One of a number of year-round attractions, including the
Palais du Prince, is Prince Albert's Royal Palace. The Palace was
originally built in 1191 as a Genoese fortress and has been home to
the ruling Grimaldi family since they first captured it in 1297.
Each different ruling member of the family has influenced its
design (both internal and external), and not always in a positive
way; the Palais du Prince is far from Europe's most elegant palace.
Outside of the Palace, the daily Changing of the Guards ceremony is
a popular event for visitors. It takes place just before noon, but
lasts only two minutes, so don't be late!
Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium
The impressive Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium is
Monaco's most visited museum, although competition for this title
could hardly be considered stiff. The museum, built at the behest
of Prince Albert I, allows you to explore the underwater world of
the renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
Monte Carlo Casino
In the mid-19th century, the debt-riddled Grimaldi family
struck upon an idea to open a casino as a method of raising funds.
The casino occupied several different sites within the principality
until a permanent site was chosen at Les Spelugues ('the Caves').
The impressive casino, as seen today, began construction in 1858
and was completed in 1863. The area was promptly renamed 'Monte
Carlo', in honour of Prince Charles, to make it sound more
appealing to visitors… with considerable success: the casino
provided the principality with its main source of income for 150