Sunday trip to Monaco - the 'Monaco Shopping Experience'

Monaco and Monte Carlo, July 2008

View from the Palace Hill over the Port and out towards Monte Carlo. You can see the storms in the hills. The large outdoor lido or swimming pool is just visible in the centre left of the picture.

One of the leaflets I picked up in Nice Tourist office was promoting Sunday shopping in Monaco for the summer. "7 Sundays with a difference, from 20th July to 31st August 2008" Myself and the dear daughter are rather fond of shopping. The main shops in Nice are always closed on Sundays apart from the tourist shops and market in the Old Town and a few supermarkets.

For more information try and here plus this archived link.

We caught the 10;30am 100 TAM bus from the Gare Routiere so that we would be in time to catch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. That way, we could pretend it wasn't all about the shops. This is a 5-minute routine every day at 11:55am. Bus arrived at the foot of the rock at Place des Armes bus stop about an hour later so had plenty of time to stroll up the hill and eat our sandwiches before trying to see the guards. Large number of tourists already milling about in prime position so we just stood at the back and saw relatively little. I don't think we missed much, it's all a bit lame but the drums and the bell tower accompaniament was ok.

Changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. They have guns but they're skinny, I reckon I could take a couple.

Now for the shopping. Apparently you can take the buses all day Sunday for 1,50 euros, there's about 5 of them but the day was overcast, even a few drops of rain, so walking suited us fine. We headed towards Monte Carlo to look around the Center Commercial there. As part of the Sunday promotions, free eco-bags were being handed out at the malls. We couldn't find one anywhere but maddeningly, we saw plenty being toted all over Monaco. They are also given out in hotels on a Sunday morning and as passengers disembark the cruise ships.

On the way to Monte Carlo, we passed by the Olympic sized outdoor swimming pool or lido. Looking at the prices, it's quite good value, only 4,70 euros for the day.

Open air lido, open most days to the general public for about 5 euros

Walking up towards the Casino, it became apparent that Sunday shopping did not apply to the big names. All the real shops were closed; Hermes, Dior etc. The commercial centres were open though - most of the units within the Centre Commercial le Métropole were open, including a branch of Longchamps. This shopping centre is behind and to the north of Café de Paris by the side of the Casino. I suppoes if you had been stuck on the cruise ship with no shops for a day or two, it might have been an Aladin's cave but it wasn't much of a shoppigng experience in my humble opinion. Far better to while away a few hours in the Café de Paris.
Paused for an expensive boule of icecream (4 euros) from the Hagen Daz café in the Casino Park before catching the 100 back to Nice. It stayed fairly overcast and thundery later on, not really beach weather so the trip to Monte Carlo was not a bad choice. We popped into the Monaco Tourist Office before coming home to gather some info and the promotion crew were just returning from handing out all the free eco-bags so we managed to get one at the 11th hour. I wish I could say it was worth it, suffice to say Anya Hindmarsh will continue to sleep sound at night.

The Casino bus stop for the 100 back to Nice or the 100xpress Monday-Friday is at the top (north) of the casino gardens, not far from the Tourist Office. There is an arcaded area in front of the shops - les Allées Lumière for some welcome shade.

The Belgian double chocolate is highly recommended by my daughter.

Pocket-sized city spots guide to Monte Carlo, £4.79 from Amazon:

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