This glamorous destination in the Mediterranean may be an independent state but it’s quintessentially, typically and undeniably French in many, many ways. From the hedonistic lifestyle of its affluent residents to the extension of classic French cooking in the local cuisine, or from their laidback Laissez Faire attitude to their love of good wine and champagne, Monaco is a place that’s very much been shaped by the French way of life. And let’s not forget that this self-ruling nation is also located along the famous stretch that is the Cote D’Azur French Riviera coastline – and it doesn’t get any more French than that! But the microstate’s close proximity to Italy also means that Monaco takes on some cultural influences from the Italians and with so many F1 fans from around the world and the rest of Europe laying their hat down for the summer season, there’s no denying that Monaco is a cosmopolitan symbol of Pan-European multiculturalism.
Famed for its prestigious Grand Prix motor racing as well as its glitzy Mediterranean coastline, Monaco has become an entertainment haven for those who want to indulge, pamper and splash the cash. The yacht lined harbour sets the scene and the extravagant hotels and resorts will make you feel truly extravagant. And to top it off, there’s a world of shopping to be enjoyed in Monte Carlo with everything from small, elegant boutiques to big designer labels. Plus with a sumptuous mix of both French and Italian restaurants, and endless rows of classy champagne bars and chic cafes, great nightlife is guaranteed every day of the week. Gambling fans will also love Monaco’s great choice of casinos and sun worshippers will the famous Larvotto Beach to be nothing short of glamorous.
Whilst the nightlife scene in Monaco attracts the young, rich, hip and famous from all around the world, Monaco is actually very family friendly. It’s an exciting destination if you take an interest in international festivals or fine dining, and having a base in Monaco allows you to explore the rest of the French Riviera. Car hire in Monaco can be a more cost-effective alternative to public transport; although if you do decide to travel with kids on public transport, you’ll find well-organised bus, train and Bateau Bus links that will make getting around super easy. There are more than 10 major taxi ranks and public elevators make it much easier to walk around the Principality’s steep hills.
The food of Monaco draws a lot of influence from classic French cooking, whilst also taking inspiration from Italy. The coastal location of Monaco means that fish and seafood dominate the menu and you will find that some key ingredients and flavours used include olives and olive oil, butter and garlic, various fresh herbs and lots of fruit and vegetables. The food is typically Mediterranean and some local dishes include the famous national dish of Barbagiuan (a sweet pastry filled with cheese, leeks and rice), Fougasse (a decorated bread topped with nuts and aniseed), Socca (pancakes made with chickpea flour), and Stofaci (dried cod cooked in tomato sauce). There are also many places to enjoy wine tasting due to the Cote D’Azur being home to so many award winning vineyards.
It could be said that the culture of Monaco is a hybrid of both French and Italian culture, although it lends itself more to the French way of life. The local cuisine is typically Mediterranean and shows influences from both French cooking and Italian cooking, and some of the most notable features of Monegasque culture in modern times is the annual Grand Prix motor racing, taking place on the Circuit de Monaco. The languages spoken in order of popularity are French, Monegasque, Italian, English and Occitan – with the local dialect of Monegasque being a mix of both Italian and French. Monaco also has a strange relationship with the rest of Europe; with it not being a part of the EU officially but practicing the same EU border customs so there’s free movement with France.