Monte Carlo was the third port of call on our most recent cruise aboard Oceania’s Riviera visiting the Italian and French Riviera.
Monaco is one of the world’s smallest countries only measuring one square mile. Monte Carlo, its only city, is well known for its magnificent Palais Du France Casino and the Grand Theatre for drama and ballet.
We have visited Monte Carlo several times as well as other areas of the French Riviera, so we chose to take the train from Monte Carlo Station (30 minutes’ walk from the pier) to Villefranche. Our ship was privileged to get the only berth at the pier as most ships anchor off using tenders. Before setting off make sure you get accurate instructions and map from the tourist authorities normally in attendance on the pier if not on your ship.
The train journey takes around 30 minutes and costs around 6 euros return. Be prepared to cope with auto ticket machines at the station – a kind French business man took pity on us!
Villefranche is one of the most picturesque old fishing ports on the Cote D’Azur and
the town features a hilltop fortress and medieval churches. Beside the sheltered harbour you will find narrow streets overshadowed by various attractive buildings painted in bright colours. There are plenty of boutiques for shoppers and an array of cafes to sit at and enjoy a snack or coffee giving you the chance to enjoy the splendid view of yachts and fishing boats in the bay. Some of the larger cruise ships call at Villefranche itself using tenders – this can lead to quite a long wait on board depending on the size of the ship.
The old Town at Monte Carlo
The old town (Monaco-Ville) can be easily reached on foot by stairs and lift and along an attractive terrace promenade, then up more stairs and escalators. Vieux Monaco has many old streets and buildings situated on the top of cliffs with views to the harbour. This area includes St Nicholas Cathedral, Prince’s Palace and the Oceanographic Museum.
Tour Monaco in 30 minutes
We took the Monaco Tours Little Train ride (from outside the museum) equipped with commentary in various languages for a quick 30 minute ride round the town including passing the Palais Du France, cost 9 euros. Although very busy there was little queuing with plenty of ‘trains’ available to cope with demand. I did notice hop-on-hop-off buses along from the cruise terminal but be aware that if very busy you hop off and then find you can’t hop on when you wish as the bus is full!
Contact Simon at Designer Travel Tailor-made Holidays & Cruises
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Photo: Villefrance (RG) 154