Monaco Travel Guide: The Basics

Welcome to the prestigious Principality of Monaco and the renowned Monte-Carlo in the French Riviera.

Monaco is a unique sovereign city-state (“principality”) on the French Riviera, surrounded by France but only 30 minutes from Italy. Monaco is about the size of New York’s Central Park.

It is so wealthy that it doesn’t even measure poverty rates. There are no homeless or poor people. In fact, to live comfortably in Monaco, you’ll either need a hefty trust fund or an income of at least €250,000 per adult.

Monte Carlo, Monaco’s glitziest and most famous district, is filled with five-star uber-luxury hotels, exotic supercars, high-end designer boutiques, and the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo.

With this Monaco and Monte-Carlo travel guide, Iconic Riviera will give you a sneak-peek of the opulent lifestyle the Principality offers, as told by a resident of Monaco.

We’ll also fill you in on some background info, like the names of neighborhoods, currency, and other must-know information. This is one of several Monaco guides on Iconic Riviera.

Monaco: The Essentials

Monaco is a small country (principality) on the Mediterranean coast in the area of the French Riviera. It is completely surrounded by France, but very near (about 20 minutes’ drive from) the Italian border.

With just 200 hectares and less than 40k population, it is the second-smallest country in the world (only the Vatican is smaller). But what it lacks in size it makes up for in attitude.

The population of the nation in 2020 is about 38,000. Within it, 47% are French, 16% are Italian, with 21% having moved here from 140 other countries. Only 16 percent of the population is Monagesque (the native-born citizens of the Principality.)

To be a resident of Monaco, you must rent an apartment (rent starts at about €5k/month for the smallest required) and prove that you have at least €500,000 (per resident) in a Monaco bank account. Still, there are robust social programs, including housing subsidies and free education and healthcare systems.

French is the official language. Still, most people understand and speak English and many also speak Italian. A number of old people still speak Monagesque. It is both the traditional and national language and is taught in the local schools. About 4000 people speak it.

The currency is the same as the rest of the European Union, the Euro €.

MONACO: THE neighborhoods

Before we go any further in this travel guide, we will explain the difference between Monaco and Monte-Carlo. Many seem to confuse one with the other.

monaco (travel guide) cote d'azur

Monaco is the country or city-state. Whereas, Monte-Carlo is one of the neighborhoods within. There are nine other neighborhoods within the city-state. A reclamation of the sea has been done in the past (for Fontvieille) and is underway currently.

There is Monaco-Ville with its other name Le Rocher (The Rock) which is the oldest area and houses the Palace. Then there is Fontvieille, the newest area reclaimed from the sea. La Condamine, on the other hand, is the area known for the old port (Port Hercule).

Here, you can see the list of the ten neighborhoods as mapped (the numbering is for illustration purposes only).

Monte Carlo, and other wards within Monaco (tra
Monaco neighborhoods
  • 01 – Monte-Carlo / Spélugues
  • 02 – La Rousse / Saint Roman
  • 03 – Larvotto / Bas Moulins
  • 04 – La Condamine
  • 05 – Monaco-Ville
  • 06 – Fontvieille
  • 07 – La Colle
  • 08 – Les Révoires
  • 09 – Moneghetti / Boulevard de Belgique
  • 10 – Saint Michel

How monaco is governed

H.S.H. Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene

The Monaco government is Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy. It is an independent City-State (Monaco is not part of France). A hereditary constitutional monarchy sets the Head of the State, and the Sovereign Prince is the head of the government. The Consultative Constitutional Assemblies assist in governing. H.S.H. Prince Albert II reigns as the current monarch.

Monaco is a full voting member of the United Nations and part of thirteen UN organizations, such as UNESCO and WHO. The Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861 officially recognized Monaco as a sovereign state.

Despite Monaco’s independence and separate foreign policy, its defense is the responsibility of France. However, Monaco does maintain two small military units.

Monaco is predominantly Roman Catholic. It is also the state religion. Still, the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. The motto is ‘Deo Juvante’. In English, it means “With God’s Help.”

Monaco: Safety

With nation-wide video surveillance, three police stations, and one police officer per 100 residents, Monaco has safety standards so strict that it is known as the safest square mile in the world.

The 519 police officers, who must go through a two-year intensive training program. They don’t mess around: the rules are extremely strict and the court system in Monaco almost always pronounces maximum sentences. So behave yourself!

the main police station, in port Hercule(the Condamine), Monaco

Monaco has a system of 24-hour video surveillance spanning the entire surface area of the Principality, including the majority of residential building lobbies, a transmitting system worthy of the best armies in the world, the possibility of blocking all access in and out of the Principality in several minutes. And we mustn’t forget the surveillance teams inside of the Casino and in all of the gambling establishments and hotels.

This works well for residents and tourists, as you won’t need to worry about your diamond bracelet or designer bag being stolen, or your child going missing. If your child wanders off, the police will be able to track him/her with facial-recognition video tracking and find your child in a matter of minutes.

More Travel guides to Monaco and Monte-Carlo

Like art? To find the art in the Principality, please see this travel guide to Monaco’s art scene.

The Principality has many beautiful parks and gardens perfect with picturesque and Instagram-worthy views. See this travel guide to Monaco’s parks for more.

And, are you curious how billionaires live a life of luxury in the Principality? Take a look at this billionaire-life travel guide.

For the best shopping experience all around the Principality, see this Monaco shopping center guide.

Always watch out for more travel guides coming soon here in Iconic Riviera!


European emergency number (from a mobile phone):
Doctor and pharmacy on duty:
116 or 117
Healthcare: Princesse Grace Hospital
Standard : +377 97 98 99 00
Urgent : +377 97 98 97 69
Poison control center (Marseille):
+33 4 91 75 25 25
Lost and found:
+377 93 15 30 18
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