Bedazzling Monaco

  • slide 1

    Monaco-Ville, The Old Town

    Located nearly 600 miles south of Paris and 32 miles northeast of Cannes, you'll find the tiny country of Monaco, contained within a 1.2-square-mile area. But don't let the size fool you; this tiny country packs a big punch, especially when it comes to luxurious experiences.

    Photo courtesy of Monaco Press Centre Photos

  • slide 2

    Gambling - A Monte Carlo Favorite

    While residents of Monaco are forbidden from entering the gambling rooms of the casinos, the capital of Monte Carlo has become nearly as synonymous with gambling as Las Vegas. Jackets and neckties are the dress code in the evening, and it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to find yourself rubbing elbows with members of Europe's aristocracy over a game of craps or the roulette wheel.

    Photo courtesy of Zdenko Zivkovic

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    Monte Carlo Casino

    The fictional casino where James Bond plays in a high-stakes poker game in Casino Royale was inspired by the Monte Carlo Casino, and the city of Monte Carlo featured in GoldenEye and Never Say Never Again. What better place to try your luck than this shrine to gambling housed within a beautiful 19th century Beaux-Arts architecture building.

    Photo courtesy of Monaco Press Centre Photos

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    Prince's Palace

    As a sovereign nation, Monaco is ruled by the Prince of Monaco, and the royal family plays a part in day to day politics here. In 1956, American actress Grace Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco at the time, making her the princess consort -- a symbol of Monaco's glamorous nature that lasted long past her death.

    Photo courtesy of Monaco Press Centre Photos

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    Luxury Travel Paradise

    Monaco is home to six five-star hotels, including the historical and prestigious Hotel de Paris, located on the grounds of the Monte Carlo Casino. The hotel is also home of Le Louis XV, Alain Ducasse's three-Michelin-starred French restaurant. The rooftop pool at the Fairmont Monte Carlo is one of the best in the world, enjoying breathtaking views over the city and harbor below.

    Photo courtesy of Fairmont Monte Carlo

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    Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

    One of Monaco's best attractions is one you might not expect, the Oceanographic Museum. Inside, you'll find some 100 tanks and pools where thousands of fish, 200 invertebrate species and 100 coral species call home. The aquarium opened in 1903, making it one of the oldest in the world. Make sure to spend some time enjoying the collection of artifacts collected Prince Albert I in the gallery upstairs.

    Photo courtesy of Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

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    A Strong Maritime Tradition

    One of the first things you'll notice in Monte Carlo is the harbor full of yachts. With some many wealthy visitors, it's no surprise that sailing is somewhat of a pastime in Monaco, and every year, the Yacht Club de Monaco hosts the Primo Cup, the biggest yachting event in the Mediterranean. More than 1,000 sailors from around Europe show up to open the international racing season.

    Photo courtesy of Monaco Press Centre Photos

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    Jardin Exotique - A Touch of Natural Beauty

    If you need to get away from all that glitz and glamour, spend an afternoon communing with nature at the Jardin Exotique. The hillside gardens date back to Prince Albert I in the 19th century, and today, it's known for a stunning cactus collection. Plants are flowering throughout the year, and the garden's view of the city below is fantastic.

    Photo courtesy of provenza

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    Day Trip to the French Riviera

    Since Monaco is located so near to France (and French is the national language), it's easy to spend some time soaking up the sun on the beaches of the French Riviera during your stay. Drive 11 miles west, and you'll find yourself in Nice, a city full of pebbled beaches, cocktail bars, world-class museums Michelin-starred cuisine.

    Photo courtesy of Oiva Eskola

About Lydia Schrandt

Lydia, photo editor and Readers' Choice Production Manager for USA TODAY 10Best, has traveled to more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North and South America, and has lived in Albuquerque, Galveston, Austin, Thailand, Korea, China, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and now Spain. When she's not at her computer in a cafe, she's out photographing the city, writing fiction or cheering on Barça.

Read more about Lydia Schrandt here.

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