Monaco has been a place I've wanted to visit for years - so glamourous and romantic! It must be something to do with watching re-runs of Grace Kelly films when I was a child!
Recently I travelled with Kirker for a short break and it was great being able to fly locally from Bristol to Nice. What's more the transfer to my hotel only took 10 minutes - that's the great thing about travelling by helicopter! I stayed at the Columbus Hotel, which is only a short stroll from the heliport. Located in the Fontveille area of Monaco this was the perfect choice as it's only a few minutes from Port Fontvieille, much smaller and more picturesque that the main port of Hercule, and overlooks the sea and the Princess Grace Rose Garden. The hotel embodies the chic style that you would expect on the French Riviera but, at the same time, is very welcoming and relaxing. It also has a great history of accommodating Monaco Grand Prix winners, including Jenson Button in 2009.
At the Port Fontvielle we found some great, and not too badly priced, restaurants. La Salaire was my favourite - maybe something to do with the free Proscecco they served!
The great thing about Monaco is that everything you want to see is within walking distance, albeit quite hilly in some areas. Casino Square was the obvious starting point. I know you pay a lot for the privilege but a drink in the Cafe de Paris is well worth the price just to indulge in a spot of people watching and trying to name all the types of 'super car' that come around the corner. The casino is fantastic and deserves a visit - although, disappointingly, there was no sign of James Bond.
My favourite area has to be the old town and, in particular, the Royal Palace. Here you can watch the changing of the guard and it's where the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium is located - the building is over 100 years old and has long been associated with Jacques Cousteau. The views from the balcony of the building over the Mediterranean are absolutely stunning. The Passport to Monaco includes entrance to the museum as well as a host of other places of interest such as the Exotic Gardens.
From Monaco there is a great train service that runs along the coast - it's well worth the journey just for the stunning views of the Riviera. We decided to visit Cannes - the ticket cost only nine euros and took about an hour - en route we passed through Nice, Antibes and Juan Les Pins. We took a stroll along the Croissette and tried a 'pan bagnat', a mouth-watering french picnic sandwich stuffed full of fresh tuna, lovely ripe tomatoes and lots of olives.
If you travel west from Monaco by train, within about 40 minutes you cross the border into Italy - if you're there on a Friday try out the great market at Ventimiglia.
I absolutely loved Monaco and it's a must for a short break - you can do and awful lot in four or five days and, if you're looking for inspiration, pop in for a chat and I will point you in the right direction.