5 Must do things in Monaco

Wow, the little place that packs a punch……

Recently I had the pleasure of going to the south of France to celebrate a friends birthday. The south of France cote dAzur is fast becoming my favourite go-to destination for close to home travel, with a flight time of just 2 hours from the London.

Monaco Map at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

On my whirlwind trip, I visited Monaco. Monaco is next door to Nice, France and is a short train ride from Nice Ville or 7 minutes via helicopter from Nice airport.

Monaco, a tiny independent city-state on France’s Mediterranean coastline and is known for is its supercars, upscale casinos, yacht-lined harbour and the F1 Grand Prix race. With 38,000 residents, it is the second smallest country in the world (after the Vatican) and the most densely populated. It is a tax haven and Forbes.com states that just over 30% of residents are millionaires. Monaco is one of the safest countries in the world with a police officer for every 60 people. There are lots of things to do in Monaco for it visitors and getting around the city is easy on foot, but it is hilly, so wear flat comfortable footwear.

Prince Albert II is the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco and head of the princely house of Grimaldi. He is the son of Prince Rainier III and the American actress Grace Kelly.

Here is my list of 5 must do things when you come and visit.

Monaco Map of the city at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

1) Visit Le Palais des Princes de Monaco.

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco is the official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. Built in 1191. Based in Monaco City (French: Monaco –Ville) is a ward of Monaco and Nicknamed the rock.

A must do, is to watch changing of the guards at 11.55am each day, arrive at 11.45am to get the best viewpoint.

 

You can also visit the State Apartments at the Palace (from April – Mid October each year). You can also visit the Private Collection of Antique cars.

ADMISSION COST

Prince’s palace: State Apartments*
Adults: 8 euros, Children (6-16 years old): 4 euros.
Double ticket: State Apartments + Private Collection of Antique cars
Adults: 11.50 euros, children (6-16 years old) 5 euros.

*The State Apartments are not accessible to those in wheelchairs. Access only by stairs.

Also located nearby,  in walking distance Saint Nicholas Cathedral, The Oceanographic Museum, The courthouse and other government buildings.

 

2) Take the mini train around the city

Monaco Tours Train at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk
Mini Train

Also based in Monaco –Ville and starting opposite the Oceanographic Museum, the mini train is great, with tickets costing just €10 each for adults and €5 for children. The tour is available in 12 languages and leaves numerous times throughout the day.

The 40-minute tour takes you around the principality.  It is great to do before or after the changing of the guard.  It allows to you see most of the city and you can then work out where else you would like to go and see.

Monaco Tours at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk
In the carriage
Monaco Tours map at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk
Map of the tour

 

3) The frame

The Frame, Monaco at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

You will pass the frame if you take the mini train.

The frame is great for photo opportunities and is located also located in Monaco-Ville. If you walk back down into the city follow the road down the hill from the train stop and the Oceanographic Museum for a few minutes and stop to take photos in the frame with part of the famous Port de Monaco in the background.

 

4) Monte Carlo Casino

The Monte Carlo Casino is world famous, it is also one of the greatest places to spot supercars. Inside the casino and view the beautiful marble and chandeliers. The Casino was built in 1893 by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera House. Its marble paved “atrium”, surrounded by 28 Ionic columns made of onyx. If you’re feeling lucky why not have a little gamble too.

Restricted access – over 18’s only and proof of identity may be required.

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5) The F1 Grand Prix Circuit 

The Grand Prix track if like me you love F1 you will love the city of Monte Carlo as you are practically walking around the track. I was lucky enough to visit Monaco at the beginning of April and the city is also already preparing for this year’s Grand Prix with hoardings and seating going up in preparation. It takes weeks to prepare for the Grand Prix, the Monaco Grand Prix is the last weekend in May.

 

Other things to do in Monaco;

  • Saint Nicholas Cathedral (Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco are buried there)
  • The Oceanographic Museum
  • Sainte- Dévote Church
  • Watch a football match at the Monaco stadium.
  • Charter yacht
  • Take a boat trip, in summer months you can also take a trip to Monaco via boat Nice.
  • Cafe de Paris
  • Go shopping

 

*All photos are by myself or friends unless stated.

5 Must Do Things in Marseille

I recently spent a wonderful week in Marseille, France.  Marseille is France’s second city and is located on the coast in the south of France.  I stayed in central Marseille at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Port de Vieux.

There are lots of things to do in Marseille, I wanted this trip to be a mix of relaxing by the pool mixed with some sightseeing.  Here is my list of 5 must do things to do when out and about.

1) Go to Notre-Dame de la Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde translates ‘Our Lady of the Guard’ is a catholic basilica and is the best know symbol in the city.  Built on the foundations on an ancient fort at the highest point on Marseille in 1864. The basilica replaced the church of the same name that was built-in 1214. The basilica has a bell tower that supports a statue of the Madonna and Child that is covered in gold leaf. There are great views of the city and well worth a visit.

Cost: Entry is free, but take circuit 1 of the mini train from the old Port of Marseille for a fun trip the mini train costs €8 for adults & €4 for children return. Trains leave every 10 minutes throughout the day.

2) Take the world’s shortest ferry

Walking from one side of the port to the other can take some time about 20 minutes, so if you’re feeling tired or in a hurry you can take a short cut. The little ferry-boat runs from Marseilles town hall to the other side running daily every 10 minutes.  The Little Ferry boat is eco-friendly with an electric solar propeller.  The ride across the port takes a couple of minutes making is the world shortest ferry trip.

Cost: 50 cents one way.

3) Boat trips

There are numerous boat trips that you can take from the port in Marseille you can take a trip to the National park de Calanques (Calanques translates to creeks). There are several different trips to the national park de Calanques. The National Park has many Calanaques which are really beautiful calm tranquil places with beautiful rock formations and there are a number of different options of daily boat trips.

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Cost: There is a small circuit which is two hours and 15 minutes and costs approximately €23 four adults and €18 for children or you can get family tickets for €74. The large circuit is three hours and 15 minutes and is €29 for adults and €22 for children and €92 for the family ticket.

There is also a trip on the larger circuit three hours and 45 minutes which includes 30 minutes swimming time only take this option if you’re strong swimmer as life jackets are not provided.

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There are also trips throughout the day to the Frioul archipelago is a group of 4 islands located off the Mediterranean coast of France, approximately at 4 kilometres from Marseille.

4) Watch the sunset

The sunsets in Marseille are beautiful. You can watch from a high view-point or while at dinner in the ports.  Don’t forget to take a photo or two.

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Cost: Free of charge or the cost of an alfresco dinner

5) Alfresco Dining

Have dinner at one of the many restaurants at the Marseille Vieux Port.  Spend time people watching or watching sports or live music.

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There are hundreds of restaurants in Marseille, check out our next post (coming soon) about the best places to try.

Have you been to Marseille? I so, what were your favourite places? Leave a comment below.

How to spend 72 hours in London-Day 2

There is so much to do in London.  But if you only here for a long weekend or a long layover, here are the best things to do in 72 hours.  London is known for its history, beautiful buildings, shopping and changeable weather. Click here to read Day 1’s adventures.

Day 2 is a mix of sightseeing and shopping, so make sure you have comfortable shoes and check the weather forecast as it is London so you might need an umbrella or some shades or both.

I have selected 2 routes you could follow. The Red Route for all purses and the Blue Route where money is no object.

Day 2 – From the Map

72 Hours in London Day 2 at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

Day 2 – Sightseeing & Shopping

Red Route:

1)  Leicester Square

Starting the day off the day in central London at Leicester Square, the tube line is on the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line (Black) and the Piccadilly Line (Navy).

Leicester Square is famous for its cinemas such as the Odeon Leicester Square, Empire and Leicester Square which are frequently used for film premieres.  Nearby is also the Prince Charles Cinema is known for showing cult films, sing-a-longs and marathon film runs. The square is a popular tourist attraction, and also host events for the Chinese New Year as china town is just behind the square to the north.

Leicester Square also has popular stores, M&M world and Lego Store which is the largest Lego Store in the world.

Fact: Lego store has exclusive sets you won’t find anywhere else in the world

2) Piccadilly Circus  

Piccadilly Circus is a short minute walk from Leicester Square.  It is well-known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, it is London’s equivalent of Times Square.  However They are currently being updated and are switched off until the Autumn of 2017.  Piccadilly Circus is also the place where the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue is although most people mistaken the statue for Eros.  Piccadilly Circus a busy but popular meeting place.

Here the route splits continue reading for the red route or read further down the post for the blue route.

Shopping

Next take a walk up Regent Street named after George, the Prince Regent (later George IV). The street runs from Waterloo Place in St James’s at the southern end, through Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, to All Souls Church.

The street was completed in 1825. The street is known for its flagship retail stores, including Liberty, Hamleys, Jaeger and the Apple Store. Regent Street is approximately 0.8 miles. Everyone has their own taste with regards to shopping so take your time and enjoy yourself.

Tip: If you’re from outside the EU make sure you keep your receipts and claim back your tax.

There are a couple of stops you have to make on Regents Street, Hamleys and Liberty’s.

3) Hamleys & Carnaby Street

Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world.  It is named after William Hamley.  Hamley’s has had a few homes over the years but it is now situated at 188-196 regents street. Hamleys’ flagship store has seven floors, with different categories of toys on each floor.  The store is a popular destination for tourists and there is always a que’s outside the door during the run up to Christmas.

Parallel to regent street and behind Hamleys lies Carnaby Street  (highlighted in red on the map below).

72 Hours in London Day 2 at Carnaby Street www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in Soho in the City of Westminster, Central London. Close to Oxford Street and Regent Street, it is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques.  Carnaby Street derives its name from Karnaby House, which was built-in 1683 to the east.

72 Hours in London Day 2 Carnaby Street at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

By the 1960s, Carnaby Street was popular with followers of the mod and hippie styles. Many independent fashion boutiques, and designers such as Mary Quant, Marion Foale and Take Six. Bands such as the Small Faces, The Who, and Rolling Stones appeared in the area to work (at the legendary Marquee Club round the corner in Wardour Street), shop, and socialise, it became one of the coolest destinations associated with 1960’s Swinging London.

There are loads of places to eat around this area, so take a break for lunch and get ready for the afternoon of lots more shopping and photo opportunities.

 4) Liberty of London

While Liberty’s isn’t technically on Regent Street it is just off Regent streets on Great Marlborough Street. Liberty’s is a department store which sells luxury goods including women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, cosmetics and fragrances, jewellery, accessories, home wares, furniture, stationery and gifts and is best known for its floral and graphic prints and silk scarf’s.

Started with a £2,000 loan from his future father-in-law, Arthur Liberty accepted the lease of half a shop at 218a Regent Street with only three staff members.

5) Oxford Circus / Oxford Street

Oxford Circus is the intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street in the West End of London. It is served by many bus routes.

Tip: It is often a great place to take a picture of London’s famous red double-decker buses in a row.

It also has Oxford Circus tube station directly beneath the junction itself which had the Victoria line (turquoise blue) and the Bakerloo line (brown).

Oxford Circus has the highest pedestrian volumes recorded anywhere in London. At the busiest times, over 40,000 pedestrians per hour pass through the junction. The Circus was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century, the area is famous today for it many flagship shops, TopShop, Miss Selfridges and Nike Town.

72 Hours in London Day 2 St Christopher's Place at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

 

From Oxford Circus take a walk west down Oxford Street towards Marble Arch.  On route to our next destination you will pass many shops and department stores John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams.  Just before you reach Selfridgew look out for this Clock  on the right hand side of the road, and the a narrow alley way. St Christopher’s Place has small boutiques and lots of great restaurants.

 

 

 

6) Selfridges

72 Hours in London Day 2 Selfridges at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

Selfridges, also known as Selfridges & Co was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The flagship store on London’s Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK (after Harrods) and opened 15 March 1909.

It is also believed that Harry Gordon Selfridge coined the globally known phrase “the customer is always right” and Selfridge used it regularly in his advertising.

72 Hours in London Day 2 Selfridges & Co at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

 

 

Selfridges’ windows have become synonymous also with the brand, and to a certain degree have become as famous as the company and Oxford Street location itself. Selfridges has a history of bold art initiatives when it comes to the window designs. The windows consistently attract tourists, who marvel at the current designs and styling and fashion trends.

Harry Gordon Selfridge’s success was his relentlessly innovative marketing, which was elaborately expressed in his Oxford Street store. When launched Mr Selfridge tried to make shopping a fun adventure and a form of leisure instead of a chore.  Emphasizing the importance of creating a welcome environment, he placed merchandise on display so customers could examine it, moved the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor, and established policies that made it safe and easy for customers to shop. These techniques have been adopted by modern department stores around the world.   The shop’s early history was dramatised in ITV’s 2013 series Mr Selfridge.

I think this is the best department store in London and I am a little (well a lot) biased as I used to work for Selfridges head office for 3 years but enough about me.

You can spend hours shopping here are there are loads of restaurants where you can take a break.

Blue Route:

 

Shopping on the blue route

3) Fortnum & Masons

Fortnum & Mason often shortened to just “Fortnum’s” is an upmarket department store in Piccadilly, London.  It was established in 1707 by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason.

In April 1951, Canadian businessman W. Garfield Weston acquired the store. In 1964, he commissioned a four-ton clock to be installed above the main entrance of the store as a tribute to its founders. Every hour, 4-foot-high (1.2 m) models of William Fortnum and Hugh Mason emerge and bow to each other, with chimes and 18th-century–style music playing in the background. Click here to see the video of clock via The Londonist 

Founded as a grocery store, Fortnum’s developed into a department store, it stocks a variety of exotic, speciality and also ‘basic’ provisions.  It is also the location of a celebrated tea shop and several restaurants.  Fortnum & Mason is famed for its loose-leaf tea and its world-renowned luxury picnic hampers.  Their hampers contain luxury items such as Stilton cheese, champagne, quails’ eggs and smoked salmon are very popular, especially at Christmas time, and start from £55 to £1000.

Random Fact: In 1886, after having bought the entire stock of five cases of a new product made by H.J. Heinz, Fortnum & Mason became the first store in Britain to stock tins of baked beans.

 4) Burlington Arcade

The Burlington Arcade is a covered shopping arcade in London, that runs behind Bond Street from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens. The Burlington Arcade was built “for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public”.

The Arcade opened on 20 March 1819 the arcade is for pedestrians only.  Its smart uniform shop fronts under a glazed roof, have always been filled with upmarket retailers. It is also patrolled by Burlington Arcade beadles in traditional uniforms including top hats and frockcoats.

5) Bond Street

72 Hours in London Day 2 Bond Street at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

Bond Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London. It links Piccadilly in the south to Oxford Street in the north and has been popular for retail since the 18th century, being the home of many fashion outlets that sell prestigious and expensive items.

Bond Street has the highest density of haute couture stores anywhere in the world, attracting the rich, the famous and many tourists. So you may be able to do some celeb spotting.

The nearest tube stations are Green Park in Piccadilly which have the Victoria line (Turquoise blue) and the Jubilee Line (Grey), and Bond Street station in Oxford Street which have the Jubilee Line (Grey) and the Central line (red) . Despite its name, Bond Street station does not directly connect to either New or Old Bond Street.  Bond Street is the only street that runs between Oxford Street and Piccadilly. The entire street is around 0.5 miles (0.8 km) long.  Many of the shop frontages are less than 20 feet (6 m) wide.

Prestigious and expensive shops sit alongside auction houses Sotheby’s and Bonhams. At one time, Bond Street was best known for top-end art dealers and antique shops, some dealers and antique shops remain, but many of the shops have come to be occupied by fashion boutiques, some branches of global designer brands. The street still has a reputation as a fashionable place for shopping, including the flagship stores of Ralph Lauren and Cartier. Fenwick have had a department store on Bond Street since 1891.

 Regent Street

Next take a walk up Regent Street named after George, the Prince Regent (later George IV). The street runs from Waterloo Place in St James’s at the southern end, through Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, to All Souls Church.

72 Hours in London Day 2 Regent Street at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

The street was completed in 1825. The street is known for its flagship retail stores, including Liberty, Hamleys, Jaeger and the Apple Store. Regent Street is approximately 0.8 miles. Everyone has their own taste with regards to shopping so take your time and enjoy yourself.

Tip: If you’re from outside the EU make sure you keep your receipts and claim back your tax.

Follow the map on to Regents street and make sure you pay a visit to a couple of stops to Hamleys and Liberty’s as you join back to the red route.

6) Hamleys & Carnaby Street

Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world.  It is named after William Hamley.  Hamley’s has had a few homes over the years but it is now situated at 188-196 regents street. Hamleys’ flagship store has seven floors, with different categories of toys on each floor.  The store is a popular destination for tourists and there is always a que’s outside the door during the run up to Christmas.

Parallel to regent street and behind Hamleys lies Carnaby Street  (highlighted in red on the map below)

72 Hours in London Day 2 at Carnaby Street www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in Soho in the City of Westminster, Central London. Close to Oxford Street and Regent Street, it is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques.  Carnaby Street derives its name from Karnaby House, which was built-in 1683 to the east.

72 Hours in London Day 2 Carnaby Street at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

By the 1960s, Carnaby Street was popular with followers of the mod and hippie styles. Many independent fashion boutiques, and designers such as Mary Quant, Marion Foale and Take Six. Bands such as the Small Faces, The Who, and Rolling Stones appeared in the area to work (at the legendary Marquee Club round the corner in Wardour Street), shop, and socialise, it became one of the coolest destinations associated with 1960’s Swinging London.

There are loads of places to eat around this area, so take a break for lunch and get ready for an afternoon of lots more shopping and photo opportunities.

 7) Liberty of London

While Liberty’s isn’t technically on Regent Street it is just off Regent streets on Great Marlborough Street. Liberty’s is a department store which sells luxury goods including women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, cosmetics and fragrances, jewellery, accessories, home wares, furniture, stationery and gifts and is best known for its floral and graphic prints and silk scarf’s.

Started with a £2,000 loan from his future father-in-law, Arthur Liberty accepted the lease of half a shop at 218a Regent Street with only three staff members.

8) Oxford Circus / Oxford Street

Oxford Circus is the intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street in the West End of London. It is served by many bus routes.

Tip: It is often a great place to take a picture of London’s famous red double-decker buses in a row.

It also has Oxford Circus tube station directly beneath the junction itself which had the Victoria line (turquoise blue) and the Bakerloo line (brown).

Oxford Circus has the highest pedestrian volumes recorded anywhere in London. At the busiest times, over 40,000 pedestrians per hour pass through the junction. The Circus was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century, the area is famous today for it many flagship shops, TopShop, Miss Selfridges and Nike Town.

9) Selfridges

72 Hours in London Day 2 Selfridges at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

Selfridges, also known as Selfridges & Co was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The flagship store on London’s Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK (after Harrods) and opened 15 March 1909.

It is also believed that Harry Gordon Selfridge coined the globally known phrase “the customer is always right” and Selfridge used it regularly in his advertising.

72 Hours in London Day 2 Selfridges & Co at www.mywonderfulworld.co.uk

Selfridges’ windows have become synonymous also with the brand, and to a certain degree have become as famous as the company and Oxford Street location itself. Selfridges has a history of bold art initiatives when it comes to the window designs. The windows consistently attract tourists, who marvel at the current designs and styling and fashion trends.

Harry Gordon Selfridge’s success was his relentlessly innovative marketing, which was elaborately expressed in his Oxford Street store. When launched Mr Selfridge tried to make shopping a fun adventure and a form of leisure instead of a chore.  Emphasizing the importance of creating a welcome environment, he placed merchandise on display so customers could examine it, moved the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor, and established policies that made it safe and easy for customers to shop. These techniques have been adopted by modern department stores around the world.   The shop’s early history was dramatised in ITV’s 2013 series Mr Selfridge.

I think this is the best department store in London and I am a little (well a lot) biased as I used to work for Selfridges head office for 3 years but enough about me.

You can spend hours shopping here are there are loads of restaurants where you can take a break.

Where is your favourite shop in central London?

Click here to read Day 1 of 72 hours in London.