The Casino de Monte-Carlo may be the most famous gambling establishment in the world. It’s not the largest or the wealthiest casino, but everyone has heard its name. Lucille Ball paid a TV visit to the casino in the 5th season of I Love Lucy when she (Lucy Ricardo) and Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz) passed through the casino, and Lucy accidentally won a big prize at the roulette table.
The real casino’s most famous big winner was Englishman Joseph Jagger, who broke the bank in 1881. He discovered a flaw in one of the mechanical roulette wheels. Charles Wells repeatedly broke the casino’s roulette table bank a few years later.
And everyone knows that Bond, James Bond, loved to visit the casino when he was chasing enemy agents or pursuing beautiful women.
Adding to the legend and mystique of Casino de Monte-Carlo was the legendary roulette streak of 1913 when the ball landed on black an improbable 26 times in a row. Players at the table reportedly bet millions of francs against the ball landing on black, believing in the Gambler’s Fallacy that the wheel’s last spin made the next spin’s outcome less likely.
Whether you win big or lose big, there’s more to do in and near Monaco than gamble for real money.
Prince’s Palace Tour
The Palais Princier de Monaco, or Prince’s Palace, was built by the Genoese (Italians) in 1191 as a fortress. The Genoese Grimaldi family captured the fortress in 1297 and have lived there ever since. After winning their freedom from Genoa, the Grimaldi family negotiated with France and Spain to maintain their independence. Throughout several centuries they rebuilt and renovated the fortress that eventually became their palace.
The palace’s fortunes rose and fell with the ambitions and wealth of the Princes of Monaco, who played essential roles in some of Europe’s most troubling conflicts. The Prince’s Palace is the only royal European residence to be its occupants’ sole home for over 700 years. As such, the palace boasts many architectural styles from numerous expansions and renovations.
The palace garden hosts occasional open-air concerts, and state rooms welcome public tours during the summer months. The palace serves as Monaco’s seat of government as well as the Grimaldi family home.
Tours allow visitors to see into the home of Monaco’s princely family as well as its functioning government. Guides explain the history of the palace and Monaco, which are closely connected.
Although Monaco’s territory includes less than one square mile of land, it contains more than a palace and a city. Although Monaco’s rulers were often drawn into wars or spent years at the French court in Versailles, many of them engaged in renovation and expansion projects for Monaco’s public needs and defense.
Guests may walk through the garden or visit the tea house. The garden includes a waterfall, bridges, a large koi pond with islands, and many beautiful plants. Guests are free to walk out over the pond and take pictures. The garden’s layout creates an illusion of depth from certain angles.
The grounds cover .7 hectares or about 1.7 acres.
Garden hours of operation extend into the early evening, depending on the time of years.
The Grimaldi forum serves as Monaco’s cultural center and congress hall, hosting many types of events. Visitors stroll along a boardwalk or enjoy concert performances from Europe’s most famous artists.
The forum also has a TV studio and Webinar facility, hosts hybrid events, and serves as home to Theatre Princess Grace.
Grimaldi Forum overlooks one of Monaco’s most popular tourist destinations, Larvotto Beach. The Japanese Garden sits on the forum’s western side, and the Princess Grace Botanical Garden sits on the forum’s eastern side.
The forum thus affords visitors a panoramic view of Monaco’s most beautiful landscapes.
Europe’s five “postage stamp” nations are among the world’s smallest countries, usually called micro-nations. Unlike the land-locked countries of Andorra, Lichtenstein, San Marino, and Vatican City, Monaco’s Principality has been able to expand its borders peacefully by reclaiming land from the sea. Prince Ranier III began the tiny nation’s land reclamation program by creating Larvotto Beach in the 1960s.
The Larvotto Beach and nearby Fontvieille industrial district enlarged Monaco’s size by 20%. Additional projects since then have expanded the country’s boundaries even further into the Mediterranean Sea.
Because it abuts a promenade filled with shops, restaurants, and beach clubs, Larvotto Beach attracts many tourists throughout the year. Visitors to the Grimaldi Forum enjoy an intimate view of the beach as well. And the eastern end of the beach contains a children’s’ garden.
Chapelle Sainte Devote
Saint Devota is the patron saint of Monaco. According to her legend, she lived on Corisca in the 3rd century CE. Martyred by a brutal Roman prefect, who ordered her cremation, Devota’s fellow Christians preserved her remains.
A Christian priest and his aides took her body away in a boat that landed at Les Gaumates in present-day Monaco. Christians built a chapel there to honor her devotion.
The chapel has been renovated and restored many times and plays a traditional post-wedding role for the Grimaldi family. The chapel’s name marks the first corner in the Grand Prix race.
The chapel appears in many legends about Saint Devota, who is said to have protected what is present-day Monaco for over 1,000 years.
The Palace Guards
Monaco has the third smallest army in the world. Its most famous military unit is the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince, the “Company of Carabiniers of the Prince.” Originally an infantry unit, the Palace Guards replaced the former Guards Company disbanded in 1904.
Because the Palace Guards play an active role in Monaco’s defense and protecting the princely family, their daily ceremonial changing of the guards is more than a mere tourist attraction.
The Palace Guards include many select units, some of which assist civil authorities or provide escort and security for civil officers and dignitaries. The company also has a brass band. Twenty-six members serve as musicians in the band, in addition to their other duties.
Since 1997 the Sovereign’s Color Guard of Honor have presented arms every National Monaco Day (November 19), Fete National, and special events. One officer and 14 enlisted men make up the particular unit.
The Princess Grace Botanical Garden
Hollywood actress Grace Kelly ended her film career on a high note when she married Prince Ranier III in 1956. Their marriage and family life became legendary, surpassing all other romantic stories among aristocrats and wealthy families in the 20th century.
The garden’s central feature is a full-sized bronze statue of the princess. Monaco expanded and updated the garden twice since its opening. It now includes a terminal by one of the entrances where visitors can view a detailed map of all the garden bushes.
The garden overlooks the Mediterranean Sea from a terrace in the Fontvieille district.
Enjoy the Attractions Near the Casino Monte Carlo
There is more to see and do with gambling in Monaco than can be listed here. Situated on the European Riviera (the “coastline”) just east of Nice, France, Monaco abuts both the French and Rivieras.
The city is famous for racing, its size, the Grimaldi family’s historical prominence, the Casino de Monte Carlo, and many other things. It is one of the few places in the world where everyone can freely roam close to a reigning monarch, in relative terms.
The Queen of England’s Sandringham estate covers nearly 8,000 hectares of land. Monaco covers about 80 hectares. You won’t get to see much of Sandringham when you visit Great Britain, but you can both gamble and see nearly all Monaco in one trip.