A dear friend invited me to Monaco where they now reside and I immediately jumped at the chance. I am not a fan of Squeasy Jet and so I went to old faithful BA. They had a few flights scattered about leaving from City Airport, Gatwick and Heathrow. The City Airport flight was a quarter of the price of the other flights, so I booked that one with a return to Gatwick. Those of you who have not experienced City airport will find it quite a treat compared to the other main airports. So the journey there was a bit of a stress, I booked a cab after faffing around like nobodies business and running super late and the journey took me about 30 minutes from West London. I highly recommend the tube though as means to getting there. The traffic even at 6.30am was just rammed.
City airport is teeny tiny. It takes about 10 minutes to get from the cab drop off/DLR exit right the way through security and to the gate. No long corridors, no waiting for oodles of people to take their laptops and shoes off at security and have their 150ml bottle of Dior Parfum confiscated. You just sail through. The flight was 2 hours in a really small plane (if you are over 6ft…. these small planes with around 16 rows will be a struggle). And we arrived 10 minutes early #result. As ever my 10 best list could easily extend to a lot more, but these are this is the current list.
1. Restaurant and Private Beach Bar Miami Plage
My friend picked me up from the airport and we drove over to his, dumped off my stuff, changed and then headed for the beach. If you Google most of the guides to the best things about Monaco, they all come up with the usual same suspects. It was nice therefore to be with my friend who has lived here for more than 14 years and knows some of the different places which do not perhaps come up frequently in other online guides. First stop was Miami Plage- private beach and restaurant which is located on the bay of Lavrotto and the oldest beach in Monaco.
It has sun loungers out front beachside where you can eat and then slightly further away from the beach there are tables outside and also in a covered area inside. But the water… oh the water. My friend started to tuck in to their Tuna Salad alone, bored of waiting for me to stop snap snap snapping away at the water. It was so beautiful and still warm enough to dust off the old two piece and get a little Autumn colour on.
I ordered the Quinoa Buddha Bowl with cabbage, tomatoes, hummus, free range chicken and salad and my friend had the Tuna nicoise with a piece of tuna the size of 6 iphone 6plus’ piled up top of each other. Protein intake was for achieved for the day with that gigantasaurous piece of fish. I washed it down with a glass of rosé which was a nice treat as Rosé season in London has well and truly passed. It’s time for heavy full bodied reds and cosy fireplaces back in Blighty right now.
They do good bread here, small baguettes peppered with fragrant olives, and large car wheel sized focaccia/pizza base flatbreads flavoured with rosemary and sea salt. I do try not to gorge on bread, but with these two fine carby specimens sitting on my lunch table, I could not help my self. I went in. All in.
2. The Ports and the Super Yachts
After lunch, I set off on foot along the port. Initially it was so peaceful aside from the lapping of the water on the sides of the boats as they gently bumped and pushed against each other and the occasional roar of a Lamborghini, Ferrari or Maclaren F1 in the back ground until I reached the heliport which has a chopper land and take off every 5 minutes. The Dillbar is the largest privately owned yacht by Gross tonnage (weight) and the fourth largest by length in the world. I tried to get this big beautiful behemoth to fit in the frame of the iPhone but it wouldn’t. It is 156 metres long or (512ft in old money. Remember waiting to do the 100m track race at school? Well yes, that long and then half again. Or 15 London buses.
3. The Architecture
I love the way this building which houses the Museum of Oceanography, is built right in the cliff face.
The architecture is mostly French but there are lots of new builds everywhere too. And I am a sucker for an instragrammable doorway.
4. The fishermen
There was something so peaceful about watching these men chatting away with their fishing rods hanging over the railings trying to catch dinner. They weren’t decked out in all the kit. They just looked like people who had just finished work and who had come down for some early evening man-banter and free ocean food.
A couple of metres back from where the fisherman were, is one of the borders between Monaco and France, so I straddled two countries for a few minutes and then carried on with my walk.
5. The gym and the running tracks
The next day early morning I headed to World Class Gym to pump some iron after a day off. Even when I am travelling I hunt out a gym as a gym routine is a huge part of me. I Love that a gym can serve Croissants AND protein shakes. The gym was beautiful; incredibly clean, extremely well equipped, light and bright. It had every piece of equipment you could ever wish for from Squat racks to a boxing ring to dumb bells heavier than most of us would ever be able to pick up. Monaco is a small and compact place and this gym is actually in France, but it still makes this list of my 10 best in Monaco.
I have to include this quirky little number. Through this park and along much of the first port areas that I walked, there is the red spongy bit in the centre of the pathways. It ‘gives’ a little more than the darker red section making it perfect to save the knees of runners. Genius!
6. The Ariston coffee bar and restaurant
After the gym we headed to The Ariston to refuel. I have just started drinking coffee this year and I am quite fussy about it. I usually have an espresso or a Ristretto, which is half the volume of an espresso but the same amount of coffee, but the waiter suggested I try the Café Noisette, which is a shot of espresso with a dash of milk. It was a good smooth coffee, but much like my clothes and my car, I prefer to have my coffee black. I knew today was going to be a big day eating so I went small on breakfast with a three egg white perfectly-cooked omelette and a green salad. I am not big on salads as they taste so bland. But with this one the produce was super fresh and tasted as if it had just been pulled from a garden out back.
7. The beaches and the cloud porn
8. Marcos ristorante
Bread, of which I ate alot. Again.
Warm Octopus Salad with green beans potato and thyme. Without question the best octopus salad I have eaten.
Grilled prawns with veg and pasta with pesto.
Pasta with truffle and Parmesan.
Tarte Tartin (Posh French apple tart). Marcos is right near the border of Monaco with Italy so the restaurant, the food and the staff here are all Italian.
9. Chapelle Saint Dévote
After driving around Monaco and going to Hotel De Paris and to the Rock where the Palace is, we came across this gem. If you have ever watched the Monaco Grand Prix you may have heard of the Saint Dévote corner which is the first turn of the F1 circuit. I am not a Roman Catholic but I do find so much peace in sitting in a church silently, eyes closed and having a short meditate. I find that ” The answers to life’s quandaries come when the mind is still”
10. The sunsets
And then each night it’s always a thing for me to find a different place to watch the sun slip into the sea.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. I know it may not be on everyones bucket list yet, but have you ever wanted to visit Monaco? Which part of my visit do you think you would have enjoyed the most. Let me know in the comments.
Have a lovely day
Big love Lorraine.
Ps: If you see any typos in the post just let me know in the comments and I will correct them. Thanks!