Monaco: The Basics

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

Monaco is a very unique place. It’s mainly known for its wealth. 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.

This is one of several Monaco guides on Iconic Riviera.

A Visual Overview of Monaco

Monaco: The Essentials

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

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.)
a suite at hotel metropole, in monte carlo, overlooking the casino

To be a resident of Monaco, you must rent an apartment (rent starts at about €5000 per month for the smallest required) and prove that you have at least €500,000 (per resident) in a Monaco bank account. But most comfortable apartments start at around €10,000 per month, and some apartments rent for as much as €1 million per month. 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 and Russian. The currency is the same as the rest of the European Union, the Euro €.

Monaco’s 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. Consequently, several hotels that are not in Monte-Carlo still use the words ‘Monte Carlo’ in their name, so be careful to check a map before booking, or you may end up walking 30 minutes to Monte-Carlo from your ‘Monte Carlo’ hotel!

The rock (old town), facing the port of fontvieille

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).

Monte Carlo, and other wards within Monaco (tra
Monaco neighborhoods

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

  • 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

The Prince’s Palace
H.S.H. Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene

The Monaco government is what’s called a ‘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.”

Safety and the Monaco Police

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.

Documentary: An Insider Look at Monaco

For one year, the cameras for this documentary followed the Prince in his daily head of state and family, behind the scenes of princely palaces and abroad. You’ll see his personal office atop one of the towers of the palace to the most private rooms where he always meets with the family, sports events in charitable prestigious galas, political obligations very personal passion, Monaco or abroad, the ruler of Monaco sharing for the first time his public and private life.

More Travel Guides to Monaco and Monte-Carlo

Like art? To find the art in the Principality, check out 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 guide to Monaco’s parks for more.

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

For the best shopping experiences, see this guide to Monaco’s shopping centers.

Wondering about the royal family? Check out our guide to the history of Monaco.

And check Iconic Riviera regularly as we add more travel guides every week!

Important Numbers

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