Although the French Riviera remains the darling of the rich, famous and the fashionistas, but it’s about time we took another look.
You may be surprised (and delighted) to learn that there are pockets of exquisite beauty in – hold your breath – Monaco that are refreshingly affordable and well worth the visit!
Monaco Revisited: Glamour, Glitz and Completely within Reach
A plane trip to the pristine sands of Monte Carlo and surrounding areas is not likely to be on the low side, but if you avoid Spring and early Summer when the Grand Prix is underway and temperatures soar, you should be able to bag yourself a decently-priced flight if you plan well ahead (as far ahead as your airline will allow).
If you’re traveling Monaco on a budget, finding a bargain hotel might be tricky if you do broad google searches or go via travel agents. The rule of thumb here is avoid the main streets and the actual coast.
Rather, seek inland oases like Gassin or even nearby villages like Ca d’Ail which are home to gorgeous country houses that do not cost the earth – and with enough fine toothcombing you can stumble upon Bed and Breakfasts that are priced as low as €20 a night if you.
A handful of days in Monte Carlo doesn’t mean being obliged to have elaborate dinners and lunches. Go self-catering and take advantage of the sumptuous bakeries that lines every street for breakfast, with Monagasque twists on sweet treats like their Tresse, a plaited brioche filled with almond cream.
A takeaway lunch for the beach could be no more complicated than asking the boulanger to slice and fill a fresh baguette your choice of cold cuts, cheese and all the trimmings.
For dinners, browse the local fish markets and butchers for astoundingly fresh fish and mouthwatering beef. Coming to this neck of the woods certainly does not mean any kind of suffering when it comes to food!
Evening strolls along the promenade will give you the strongest sensation of really being in Monaco. The entertainments in the area range from local funfairs to elegant bars that are perfect for people-watching, but if you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, a visit to the Grand Casino of Monaco is a must.
A €10 entry fee will see you plunge into a 19th century themed casino hall with regularly hosted events, including the annual Poker Stars Championships that tends to attract all the industry celebrities (so even more people-watching, basically).
Another big event on the coast is of course the Cannes Film Festival where Hollywood’s A listers flock to debut their films before a global audience.
Tickets are available to members of the public but you will have to join a long line of hopefuls, so make sure your smartphone is charged or your company is excellent. Scope out a AirBnB for the night to save pennies, or hunt around for an B&B a few months in advance to catch the action without busting the budget.
The Grand Prix
In the same breath as Cannes comes of course the life and soul of Monte Carlo’s jet-set scene: the Monaco Grand Prix that sees the world’s fastest race cars zipping down the notorious perilous Circuit de Monaco.
The 3.34-kilometer course has been going strong for 77 years and promises $100 million in prize money. Buying a ticket will set you back a lot and ironically you won’t get to see much pressed up against the fence.
Scope out a paranomic view of the entire course for precisely no cost whatsoever.
You needn’t rock up to one of the world’s most glamourous countries and find yourself leaving significantly worse off. A little planning and lateral thinking will give you the dreamy experience you’ve been craving.
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Photo credits: Monte Carlo by Julien REBOULET & y.becart. Monte Carlo Casino by Dennis Jarvis. Pinterest image casino at night by Glen Scarborough.
I absolutely love Monaco. I found that while you can spend millions, it’s not necessary, and this article points out why and how. Visiting Monaco is such a great chance to see the jet set life in action.
Absolutely – last time I was there I “donated” 25 Euro to the casino lol mainly just to say I had played there! Definitely don’t have to have millions on hand to enjoy the destination, and as you’ve said, witness / daydream after the jet set life :)
Big fan of Monaco and have walked the whole length of the country taking in all the sights (this does take a long time to do the 4-5 mile route). Love Old Monaco more than Monte Carlo as I love the old Riveria feel. Wish I could fly in via helicopter, that is always the dream :P
Impressive that you’ve walked the country length! Even though it’s a long walk, probably one of the very few countries where it’s possible to say you’ve done walked to the other end :D!
If we win the lottery at any stage, I’ll shout you a trip to Monaco in a helicopter :D
Monaco is a fairytale country because it’s so far from the realities of daily life for ordinary people
Totally agree – and it’s nice to know that you can visit on a budget and see that jet set life that we all dream of in action!
Such great info! I have yet to make it to Monaco but if/ when I do this info will be great to have!
Glad we could help :) Feel free to reach out if you have any questions during your planning stage X
Wow! This place hasso many great things to see. Grand Casino of Monaco sounds amazing and the Grand Prix. Plus I always enjoy a good challenge to find an affordable and nice accomodation in countries and cities where everything is quite expensive. So challenge accepted!:) Will be visiting Monaco soon.
Absolutely – it’s quite a rush when you find good value for money in a destination known for an expensive and lavish lifestyle – definitely feels like a win!
Let us know how your trip goes! Happy travels :)
I miss hoping to visit in July … I now have faith I can afford to! Thanks Meg!
Have a fab trip Lindsay! Absolutely, it doesn’t have to be expensive as the reputation would have you believe :) Let us know if you have any other questions in the lead up to your trip X
I would not have associated Monaco with budget travel. But I am always happy to see those who do manage to explore a luxury location and manage to do some on a budget. It looks a beautiful part of ‘France’.
Glad we could change your perspective! Haha don’t let anyone in Monaco let them hear you call them part of France :D
Monaco on a shoestring budget seems an oxymoron :) However after reading thru your article I agree with everything you say. We almost planned to be in Monaco this summer and found it to be extremely expensive, so cancelled it . Wish I had seen this post before.
It does, doesn’t it! Sorry to hear that you cancelled your trip this summer :( Now that you have an idea of how to make it a bit more affordable perhaps you can reschedule the trip :)
I’ve never been but I’m happy to see it can be done on a budget! I’ve always heard how expensive it is. The photos are gorgeous- I definitely want to visit sooner rather than later. I’ll make sure to pack lots of white clothes!
Hope you have the chance to travel soon! Glad we could help with some budget tips :)
Monaco is a destination everyone should visit once in their lives. The glitz, the glamour – not to mention the Grand Prix. And if I could do it on a bit of a budget using your tips, I’d be happy!
Totally agree with you on that! See you there maybe next Grand Prix :D!
Monaco always evokes images of an exotic and expensive destination. A hangout for the rich and famous. A place bustling with fast cars and ritzy casinos. But you have exploded the myth by showing that one can get to Monaco on a budget and no need to bust the bank! Now I need to plan a trip to Monaco in the near future.
Glad we could inspire you to plan a trip! Definitely doesn’t have to break the bank – it’s a beautiful destination which can be affordable if you know how to plan it out in advance :)
I had no idea you could stay in a bed and breakfast for as lows as 2o Euros in Monaco–that’s amazing. And I love your idea for making your own affordable lunch spread from a boulangerie. Another great way to get to Monaco without spending an arm and a leg is on a cruise. I spent an amazing day meandering through the city streets and taking pictures with all of the fancy cars outside the casino!
Absolutely – places like Gassin and nearby villages like Ca d’Ail are great places to stay if you’re looking to avoid the excessive prices of Monte Carlo.
Great tip on visiting as part of a cruise itinerary – also a fabulous way to spend a day exploring without having to cough up the regularly associated costs :)
Great article it’s a fantastic place with a bit of all sorts going on and not too mention the diverse characters wandering the streets……. I have been many times but always working at the race, staying in mention on the sea front is a good option and there is a really good train service to the centre of Monaco. The casino is a must but I love the charm of the old town and not expensive.
Always happy to hear from a fellow Monaco fan! It’s definitely a place with a way of making you fall in love :)
Awesome that you have the opportunity to work at the race – sounds like a cool job!
Monaco for the budget travel your have choose the best topic with outstanding detail that how to travel within the budget. Thanks for the info.
Glad the post was helpful Eric – happy travels :)