November 13th, 2007 – by: sissanoel
View from the Jardin Exotique, Monaco.
On Day 3, we caught one of the few trains running to Monaco and spent the day in this interesting little principality. First stop was the Jardin Exotique, a large park/cactus garden set into the hills above the city of Monte Carlo. The views were great, and the garden very well laid out. An interesting point here are the public lifts all over the place - because the city is set on a massive cliff, the streets can be very steep so pedestrians can save themselves a gruelling climb by jumping into elevators which take you up three or four terraces at a time - all free and spotlessly clean. We only used a couple - we took a lift up to the Jardin and then walked down the hill - but the locals were in and out all the time.
Within the Jardin there is a Museum of Pre-History of the Monaco area, so had a quick look around that, but pretty similar to what we've seen in many other musuems. After following the streets down the hill to a little market square at the bottom of Monaco Ville, we walked up a short hill to the Prince's Palace to watch the changing of the guard at noon - complete with a band! Had a lovely lunch in a cafe near the Cathedral, built between 1875 - 1884 out of white stone. Afterwards, we visited the Oceanographic Museum - well worth a visit. It was opened in 1910 by Prince Albert 1, who was a keen explorer and oceanographer. many of his artefacts are held within, including his large harpoon collection.
"Brother" Grimaldi, the Grimaldi prince who sneaked into the fort disguised as a monk, let all his soldiers in, and founded the principality.
Many of the exhibits are probably not particularly politically correct today, but as an insight into that era, are fascinating. The aquarium in the basement is superb, complete with a transplanted reef - the first of its kind to survive in its new environment. We caught the water bus across the port to the Casino (via some very impressive "boats" in the harbour) - had a wander around the outside but didn't go in - before heading back to the station. Due to the train strike, we ended up waiting an hour for a very crowded train back to Nice, but but this time we were ready for a rest anyway! Monace is lovely and the tourist information board puts out a range of very easy to follow walking maps, based on various themes, which you can pick up for free at the Nice airport when you arrive.
Sentry at the Princes Palace, Monace Ville.