Monaco

At just two kilometers square, the world’s second smallest country is a land of glitz, glamour, gambling and Grand Prix.

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Regal, rich and vivacious

The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco with brief interruptions since 1297, when Francois Grimaldi seized the fortress of Monaco after disguising himself as a monk. The country is divided into four areas: the old city, Monaco-Ville; the port quarter, the Condamine; Monte-Carlo, home to the casinos; and the newest quarter, Fontvieille.

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Monaco-Ville

Standing on a rocky promontory and therefore known as ‘le rocher’, picturesque Monaco-Ville is still recognisable as a medieval village, full of pedestrian streets, passageways and old houses. There are many attractions worth visiting, including the splendid marble and gold Prince’s Palace, where the Grimaldi family have resided for centuries. The Romanesque-Byzantine cathedral, where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier were married and the Princess is buried. The world renowned Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium, which has more than 4,000 species of fish. And the Jardin Exotique, home to several thousand rare plants from around the world.

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La Condamine

Monaco’s second oldest district is famous for its harbour, where the luxury yachts of the rich and famous are moored. You can even take a trip yourself on anything from a small boat to a luxury superyacht. Also worth a visit are the markets on the esplanade, full of fragrant and colourful fruit, vegetables and flowers. Rue Princesse Caroline is lined with appealing boutiques, while the Parc Princesse Antoinette in Monegetti hides a miniature golf course and 100-year-old olive trees among brightly coloured flowerbeds.

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Monte Carlo

If you’ve got enough spending money, try your hand against the celebs in the Grand Casino – which Monegasque citizens are banned from entering. The casino is hugely grandiose on the outside, especially when lit up at night, and equally opulent inside. Its gaming rooms gleam with gold and are bejewelled with chandeliers, stained glass, paintings and sculptures. The palm tree lined Place du Casino is also home to the opera house and the Hotel de Paris, which has featured in a number of films, and its American Bar has long since been a meeting place for the A list.

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