PV-Holidays: Self catering and the city: Monaco
As canny city break addicts are quickly discovering, the cheapest way to explore Europe’s finest cities is to check into a self-catering apartment.
Swapping an expensive hotel for a self-catering apartment doesn’t mean foregoing comfort or central locations. You’ll find a vast choice of clean, modern apartments in Paris to Rome, situated in the heart of the action.
And why not pack a glossy cookery book, forage in the markets for delicious local produce and whip up gourmet treats in the comfort and privacy of your own little home from home?
Each week, we’re featuring a city break destination with money-saving tips and the best self-catering apartment deals to ensure you get the most out of your hard-earned cash.
Monaco on a budget
Is it really possible to hang out with the private yacht and diamond encrusted Rolex wearing crowd in ‘ol Monaco? Unless you’re a model, a popstar, or simply have ‘loads a money’, your chances of entering the VIP lounges in this glam little principality are undeniably slim. But that’s not to say you can’t partake in many of the delights of this swanky playground – and live it up on a budget.
Follow our top tips for a weekend in Monaco that won’t break the bank.
Monaco is the second smallest city in the world, after the Vatican, so you can easily give the chauffeur time off and explore on foot! Strolling through the manicured lawns and parks with pristine fountains is just one experience that comes absolutely free.
Look out for the public escalators and lifts, which can transport you between road levels, and make a quirky way of climbing a hill.
Top tip: If you want to cross the water to visit Port Hercules, take the pedestrian only ferry, which costs just 1 euro and runs every twenty minutes.
Things to see:
A great base if this is your first visit, as it winds past some lovely cliff-side gardens and has gorgeous coastal views. There are also some key places of interest along here, including the cathedral, where the beautiful Princess Grace married Prince Ranier, and sadly also where she is buried.
Prepare for quite a few royal visits when in town, and talk to the locals for the latest gossip – they all have their own story, and their own link to the famed family. Stop by here to watch the changing of the guard, which takes place every day at 11.55am.
Tours of the palace can be expensive, but looking around the edges of the palace, and visiting the harbours each side will provide you with some beautiful photo moments free of charge.
Worth visiting, if only to marvel at the size of some of the yachts and daydream. Unlike most harbours, where you cannot walk near to boats that are moored, you can nosey around in Monaco’s glitzy hub.
Take a ring-side seat with the beautiful people on the terraces of the bars and restaurants overlooking the harbour and keep your eyes peeled for celebrities.
Casino de Paris
The grandest building you will probably visit during your stay, and also the place where it is more than likely you will lose your spare cash. Take in the famed architecture of the place too as grand gold-leafed ornaments are everywhere.
If gambling isn’t on your itinerary, then ten euros to enter this place will ensure some valuable entertainment. Watch in shock or awe the huge amounts of money that are gambled. Look out for the 500.000 chip on display, and guys must remember to wear a jacket and tie, or they won’t let you in.
To catch your breath, wander around this beautiful lush part of the city and take in the rare plants – it’s a welcome natural paradise in the thick of the urban action.
The change in ground levels as you walk around, and abundance of cacti also make you feel as if you’re in a desert. There is also a sweet little cave to explore too. Entry is 8 euros, or 3 euros if you are a student, or under 16.
The Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium
A world-famous attraction, and great because you can take the little ones in for free! Check out the 4.000 different types of fish and don’t miss the deadly piranhas and an eerie skeleton of a whale.
Grand Prix track
Any racing enthusiast will love a tour of the track, but it’s also a key path to follow if you want to whiz past the best sites in one go. To navigate easily, pick up a tourist map from the local tourist office and grab a free map.
Our tip is to start at Place Ste Devote.
Shoppers here usually lay down top-notch prices for their latest ensemble, but window shopping can be just as fun. Remember that shopping hours are from 9am-noon and 3pm-7pm.
To keep costs down, rustle up treats in your self-catering apartment. Do a big food shop as soon as you arrive to stock up on local produce and create tasty breakfasts, packed lunches and evening meals.
The marina also has a few simple cafes where the prices won’t make your eyes water. Try and eat at least one meal at a beach café, if only to experience the water misters that hover above you and keep you cool whilst you eat.
For those on a tiny budget, or looking for a cheap place to start your night out, try Stars ‘n’ Bars- an American style bar which opens till 3am, but serves huge portions of burgers, pizzas and sandwiches.
Our tip is to drop into Pizzeria Monegasque, to grab a slice of the most delicious pizza in Monaco, expect it to be busy at all times though – the locals love it!
Beware: drinking in Monaco doesn’t come cheap. Champagne is the drink of choice, with a single glass costing up to 40 Euros a pop, and beers can also break the bank, with some establishments charging at least 20 Euros.
If you don’t mind splashing some cash to mix with the rich and famous, treat yourself to one drink in Jimmy’z, the chic watering hole frequented by various members of the Grimaldi royal family. Or check out the Bar at the Columbus Monaco, which has a more laid-back vibe. David Coulthard is a co-owner, so expect to see some of his racing pals.
Where to stay
Choosing a self-catering apartment is a great way to establish a relaxed base to explore a city when you’re on a tight budget. P&V has two comfortable and low cost self-catering apartments in Monaco.
The Adagio Monaco Palais Josephine is just five minutes from the Monte Carlo casino and has a rooftop swimming pool.
For those who hope to indulge in a more active break, the Adagio Monaco Monte Cristo is near the biggest country club and golf course in Monaco and the beach. It also offers health and wellbeing services on site in its beauty salon.
P&V is currently offering a 20% discount on any stay on these properties. Find out more here.