Lay of the Land
The sovereign state of Monaco is a finger of land split into four districts. The best known of these is glittery Monte-Carlo. Perched on a hill to the east of the harbor, it is home to the Garnier-designed casino and opera house, old-world hotels and countless designer boutiques and jewelry shops radiating from the Place du Casino.
At sea level, the port area of La Condamine feels more like a residential neighborhood. Along the quay, the restaurants, art galleries and local Yacht Club are always buzzing, but you’ll also see simple wooden fishing boats unloading their catch of the day. The industrial lofts overlooking the harbor have been renovated to create a chic enclave, and the area is now home to Radio Monte-Carlo and to private ateliers for an international group of artists, including Fernando Botero, Sacha Sosno and Valerio Adami.
Above the harbor to the southwest is Monaco Ville, otherwise known as the Le Rocher—the Rock—a tiny medieval town of winding cobblestoned streets dominated by the Grimaldi Palais Princier. The inevitable tourist shops are designed for camera-toting royalty gawkers, but don’t miss out on the Rock’s spectacular gardens, the cathedral and an admirable oceanography museum.
Jutting into the Mediterranean, across the border from the French village Cap-d’Ail, Fontvieille is a residential and industrial sprawl of pricey modern concrete high-rises, along with a shopping mall and a pretty rose garden that was dedicated to the much-mourned Princess Grace. On the principality’s northeastern border is the Larvotto, known for its sandy beaches, boutiques and restaurants, as well as for the Sporting Club, where glittering galas and summer concerts are held.