Would you say that it was crazy to fly down to the French Riviera for only one night? Maybe, maybe not. But apart from all the hassle, those 24 hours on the sunny side of life were just the beautiful kick that I was longing for on this mini weekend retreat in Monaco.
It is actually not that big of a deal to get there as most full-service and low-frills airlines fly into Nice airport several times a day. We took the early bird from Munich on Saturday and stayed until the last flight on Sunday evening at 6:50pm to make the most out of the timeframe that we had. And it was awesome!
I had rented a car via Budget to bridge the distance between Nice and Monaco. The drive along the beautiful Seaside coastal road takes around 45 to 60 minutes or as long as you need if you want to stop in between to catch those gorgeous landscape views onto cute little bays, stunning villas and breathtaking yachts anchoring on the azure blue water.
It is much cheaper though and a little less stressful (driving in Monaco is hell due to the narrow streets and bad signage) to take the local bus right from Nice airport into Monaco. Or you can take the train from downtown Nice to Monaco train station. Monaco itself is well accessible by feet and you do not have to worry about where to park your car overnight. Wherever parking was not as costly as I had expected it to be (in the end we paid 30€ for a day and a half, which is really a fair deal considering to be in one of the most expensive cities in the world!).
The hotel that we had been put up in lied directly on the bottom of the beautiful castle and most of the sights were easy to reach and in walking distance. As we did not have so much time for sightseeing, we stayed in the Southern part of the city and explored the area around the Palace and towards the Oceanographic Museum which thrones majestically on the edge of a cliff. To its feet, there is a small secret garden left to it which you can reach via a staircase. Down there and close to the roaring Mediterranean lies a little cantina style bistro with an outdoor terrace which served delicious Moules Frites (clams with french fries) and is a calm little paradise with a wonderful view and very reasonable priced.
Between the castle and the oceanographic museum lies Vieille Monaco, the old part of town. The area is quite touristy, but it still was nice to walk through the small romantic alleyways and catch some shadow from the merciless sun.
The Jardins de Martin with all these beautiful flowers and palm trees are also a great spot to find some rest in between while a visit to the close-by Monaco Cathedral is also a must to have a quick glance onto the grave of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier.
From the square in front of the palace you can enjoy the most marvelous views over Monaco, Monte Carlo and the port itself. A walk by the Marina is also quite a fun thing to do to watch all these glamorous yachts and cars which are docked and parked quite self-evidently as if there was nothing more natural. I am used to have high-end automobiles around me in Munich, but once you start adding the value of all these cars that you may pass, the total amount will definitely make you speechless! But this is Monaco. Money does not matter.
We finished the evening with a beautiful light Mediterranean dinner in one of the restaurants around Rue Princesse Caroline before the Sunday was completely reserved to the ship visit of the beautiful Seven Seas Voyager by Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Read everything about it here.
On the way back, we once again enjoyed the breathtaking vistas along the seaside road. If you have time, make sure to make a short detour onto the peninsula Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat right between Monaco and Nice. It is packed with beautiful houses, small lagoons and beaches and if you wanted to, you could also pay visit to the gorgeous gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.
As it was awfully hot and time was running, we decided to continue towards Nice though. There, we parked the car in a public garage for 30 minutes, changed quickly into our bathing suits in the car and hopped into the refreshing Mediterranean. That was the highlight of the moment.
The return of the car went hassle free and by the time the plane lifted off into the glowing orange sky, we both agreed that this weekend was simply crazy. And worth it every single second. Sometimes it is these short offbeat trips that make you experience things way more intensely. And that life is beautiful and must be savored every second.