Introduction to Monaco
The Principality of Monaco is a constitutional monarchy located along the French Riviera, near the Italian border. Monaco is the name of the country and the capital city (the only city in Monaco). It is comprised of five main areas, the largest of which is Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo is the pinnacle of elegance, luxury and nightlife (including high stakes gambling). The Rock (a limestone peninsula seven hundred meters long, sixty meters above sea-level) is where the Grimaldi Palace is located. The Grimaldis are Monaco’s royal family and have ruled since 1297. La Condamine is the port district and the Fontvieille quarter (a neighborhood that was built out over the sea) is known for its sports stadium. Lastly, The Moneghetti is home to Monaco’s famous exotic garden. The area of Monaco is just under 2 km² with a population of almost 33,000. Monaco is famous for being a tax haven and rich foreigners (including Paul McCartney and Bono) comprise the majority of the population (close to 85%).
Passports & Visas
Passports are required to enter and leave both France and Monaco. Visas are not required for US citizens for visits of less than 90 days. For longer visits, contact the nearest French embassy.
Passports are necessary to enter and exit France.
For more information contact:
Consulate General of France
4101 Reservoir Rd. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Obtaining a US passport
The US Government Website is where to start.
For local Consulates, look under Consulates on the Website
Provides consular assistance to U.S. citizens
US Embassy in France
2, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris Cedex 08
Switchboard: +33 1 43 12 22 22
Fax: +33 1 42 66 97 83
Monaco Tourist Information
Currency in Monaco
Monaco’s currency is the Euro.
Travelers checks are not as accepted by vendors in Monaco as they were in the past. They are a hassle and usually have a terrible exchange rate and/or service fee.
There are ATM machines all over Monaco; usually they are connected to a bank. Check the logos on the back of your card and try to find an ATM with the same logo to ensure low/no service charge. Before leaving on your trip, make sure to alert your bank to the fact that you will be traveling overseas so that they do not put a hold on your card once they see the first few European transactions go through.
Credit cards are also a convenience for hotels, restaurants, and souvenirs. Some taxis will even take credit cards. Be prepared that credit card companies often charge a service charge or percentage as well as deducting for the exchange rate they think is appropriate.
Be sure to keep your credit card information (card number and number to call) in a safe place (not with you) when you are walking about. (We keep ours in the room or hotel safe along with our passports and airline tickets) That way, if your card is stolen you can report it easily. If you are a couple traveling together, by each of you carrying a different card, you will have at least one valid card if one gets stolen.
Driving in Monaco
Driving in Monaco is not difficult. Rental cars are readily available from both international and domestic companies.
The minimum driving age is 18 for cars and 15 for motorcycles under 125cc. Speed limits are posted along the side of the road. All passengers must wear seat belts.
Electricity in Monaco
Monaco is on a 220-volt system. You can buy converters to bring with you so many of your 120-volt appliances will work in Europe. These typically cost around $30-40 if they are universal converters that work in several European countries.
Be sure to check that your appliance is the type that works well with a particular converter.
Most computers work on both 120 and 220 volts. When shopping for other appliances (hair dryer, curling iron, etc,) look to see that they are for use on both voltage systems (many are). Then you just need to turn a lever on your dryer or curling iron to convert it or it might do it automatically. You will still need to bring along the two-prong adapter so it will plug into the France-style outlet. Adapters are very inexpensive (just a few dollars). Remember, the small adapter will not convert the voltage so be sure your appliance is OK for 220 volts before plugging it in, or you’ll see the sparks fly.
Emergency Numbers in Monaco
Etiquette in Monaco
A handshake is a common form of greeting in Monaco. However, friends often greet each other by lightly kissing on the cheeks, once on the left cheek and once on the right cheek (or more, depending on the region). In general, the French tend to be more formal when first meeting someone than most Americans would be. Always use “madame,” “mademoiselle,” or “monsieur” followed by the person’s last name. First names are typically reserved for family and close friends. You are expected to say “bonjour” or
“bonsoir” (good morning and good evening) followed by “monsieur or “madame” when entering a shop and ‘au revoir’ (good-bye) when leaving. Avoid eye contact when passing people on the street or on public transportation, such as the Metro.
Monaco Tourist Board
Public Hours in Monaco
In Monaco, banks are typically open from 9:00am to 4:30pm-5:00pm, Monday to Friday. Certain banks close from 1pm to 3pm, and some are open Saturday mornings. Banks in small towns are usually open from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 4:30pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Post offices are usually open from 8:00am or 8:30am to 5pm or 6pm in the cities on weekdays, and Saturdays from 8am until noon or so.
The usual opening hours for shops are 9:00 or 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Outside of Monaco, most businesses close between 1pm to 3pm, although it is becoming more common for shops and supermarkets in larger towns and cities to stay open during this time. Most shops are closed on Sunday, although outdoor markets are typically in full swing, and some supermarkets are open in the morning. Most museums are closed on either Monday or Tuesday, and many museums close for lunch and hours change with the seasons. The majority are closed on national and religious holidays.
Violent crime is incredibly rare in Monaco. Pick-pocketing is the most common crime. Always keep your wallet concealed and be aware of your surroundings. Distracted tourists make ideal targets! Petty criminals frequent places that tourists are likely to be found in such as airports, train stations and trains, beaches, hotels, restaurants, museums, and monuments.
Useful Country Codes:
USA and Canada 1
Monaco is in the Central European Time (CET) zone. (GMT + 1 hour).
Tipping in Monaco
As in many European countries including Monaco, the tip is included in the bill in restaurants and bars. If service is exceptional, a 10-15 percent tip is appropriate. Porters and Valets should be tipped 1-2 euros per bag. Taxi drivers are not typically tipped.
Weather in Monaco
Along the Mediterranean coast, one can expect hot, dry summers, mild and humid winters, and a small number of rainy days during the year. The average temperature is 7 deg C (45 deg F) in January and 23 deg C (73 deg F) in July.
Getting Around Monaco
Getting Around by Air
There is one airport in Monaco, Monaco-Fontvieille Heliport. The closest international airport is Cote d’Azur International Airport in Nice, France.
Getting Around by Water
Many visitors from in and around Europe arrive to the principality by ship. The ship terminal is on the new south jetty of Port Hercule.
Getting Around by Rail
The train station is at top of the Sainte Devote Valley (above the church in the north east corner of the Port). All trains running from France to Menton and/or Italy and beyond (and vice versa) are obligated to stop in Monaco. It is important to note that the Nice Airport does not have a train station. For more information on trains to Monaco from France, see www.sncf.com
Getting Around by Car
Like in the US, traffic in France and Monaco drives on the right. Motorways (autoroutes) are marked with an ‘A’; some are free while others are toll roads (autoroutes à péage). National roads (routes nationales) are marked ‘N’. Minor roads are maintained by the French départements (departments) rather than by the government and are classed as ‘D’ roads.
Car rentals are available from international and domestic companies. It is easiest to rent a car at the Nice airport.
Regulations: The minimum age to drive a car in Monaco is 18 and 15 for a motorcycle under 125cc. The minimum age for renting a car in Monaco ranges from 21 to 25. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas, 110kph (68mph) on dual carriageways separated by a central reservation, and 130kph (81mph) on motorways. In the south of France and Monaco, random breath tests for drinking and driving are common. The maximum legal alcohol to blood ratio is 0.5g (against 0.8g in the UK). All passengers must wear seat belts. Children under 10 may not travel in the front seat.
Emergency breakdown service: Tel: 17 (from roadside boxes in France).
Documentation: A national drivers license is acceptable.
Typically, one does not hail a taxi in the street in Monaco. It is necessary to go to a taxi rank (list below) or phone one.
Casino – Avenue de Monte Carlo
Fontvieille – Columbus Hotel – Avenue des Papalins
Train Station – lower exit St Devote
Train Station – top exit – Avenue Prince Pierre
Hospital – Avenue Pasteur
Larvotto – Beach Plaza Hotel – Avenue Princess Grace
Metropole Hotel – Avenue de la Madone
Monte Carlo Grand Hotel – Avenue des Spelugues
Place des Moulins
Port – Avenue President JF Kennedy
Port – New jetty – cruise terminal
Post Office – Square Beaumarchais
Phone: (+377) 93 15 01 01
If you need a taxi to take you to the airport, it’s a good idea to book at least a day ahead. A taxi to or from the Nice airport costs approximately 80 euros.
No permit is required to carry medication in your luggage. However, you should pack your medication in its original containers and/or have your doctor’s prescription with you. Customs officials will have to be satisfied that you are not importing more than would be necessary for your personal use, taking into account the drug type and length of stay (for no more than three months).
Lodging In Monaco
Monaco offers every type of lodging from couchsurfing, to hostels and agritourism , to 5-Star resorts.
Main Sights in Monaco
The famous Casino of Monaco is adjacent to the world- renowned Grand Hôtel de Paris, which was established in 1864 by Charles III of Monaco. In the main hall of the Grand Hôtel de Paris, there is a bronze statue of Louis XIV. Gamblers hoping to win (or increase) their fortunes rub Louis’ knee for luck before going to the casino. Monte Carlo is also where one can find most of the Circuit de Monaco, on which the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix takes place each year. Monte Carlo also hosts events such as fashion shows, world championship boxing bouts, the European Poker Tour Grand Final and the World Backgammon Championship throughout the year.
The Cathedrale de Monaco is where Grace Kelly (former Princess of Monaco) is buried alongside the former princes of Monaco, under a tombstone bearing the inscription Grazia Patricia, the name given to her when she married Prince Ranier III on April 19, 1956. Prince Ranier III, who died in 2005, is buried alongside her.
The Rock (a limestone peninsula seven hundred meters long, sixty meters above sea-level) is where the Grimaldi Palace is located. The nearby Moneghetti is where Monaco’s famous exotic garden is located.
Public Holidays in Monaco
1 Jan New Year’s Day.
27 Jan Saint-Devote’s Day.
5 Apr Easter Monday.
1 May Labour Day.
13 May Ascension.
24 May Whit Monday.
3 Jun Corpus Christi.
15 Aug Assumption.
1 Nov All Saints’ Day.
19 Nov Monaco National Day.
8 Dec Immaculate Conception.
25 Dec Christmas Day.
Returning to the US
Customs,VAT & Duty Free
Value Added Tax (VAT or IVA) Refund Information
To benefit from a VAT (valued added tax) refund, the unitary purchase price inclusive of tax from any single store must be at least 175 €. At the time of purchase the salesman can either refund VAT immediately, either collect the tax directly and wait for the reception of the stamped “export sales invoice” from Customs to be refunded at the departure airport. In both cases, an “export sales invoice” (“Bordereau de Vente” in French) will be given to you. Look for shops with a duty free stickers in their windows.
If you are a U.S. or Canadian resident, you may qualify for a personal exemption which allows you to bring goods of a certain value into the country without paying customs duties, excise taxes, or Value Added Tax.
Individuals over 17 may also purchase and import certain duty-free items from Monaco and France up to a certain limit. This includes tobacco and alcoholic beverages, motor fuel, and medications. Fragrances, coffee, and tea may now be imported into the EU with no restriction on amounts, as long as the value does not exceed the monetary limits listed above. Limits for other items are (be sure to check and make sure these limits are still the same before you leave):
Cigarettes: 200 units
Cigarillos: 100 units (max. 3 grams each)
Cigars: 50 units
Still wines: 4 liters
Beer: 16 liters
Spirits over 22 degrees volume: 1 liter
Fortified wines, 22 degrees volume or less: 2 liters
Medications: Varies according to traveler’s health requirements
Motor fuel: Quantities equal to that found in a normal full fuel tank, or in an emergency can, not exceeding 10 liters.
Duty and tax exemptions are strictly individual. You cannot apply them to a group.
Money and currency
Since 2007, travelers carrying more than the equivalent of 10,000 Euros in cash or traveler’s checks into or out of the EU must declare the funds with customs officials, as part of anti-terrorism and money laundering controls.
For more detailed information on French customs regulations, including information on bringing pets, plants, or fresh food items into and out of France, consult the French Embassy Customs FAQ page.