After our stay in the Provence the next destination for my mother and I was the Italian riviera. The shortest drive to Italy is via the Cote d’Azur, so we had the perfect opportunity to revisit some of my favorite cities at the Mediterranean: Monaco and Menton.
Last time I did not get to visit the Jardin Exotique, but absolutely loved a similar garden in the hilltop village Eze, so I knew we had to make a stop at the Jardin Exotique in Monaco. This garden overlooks Monaco and the Mediterranean Sea and is mainly vegetated by cacti. You follow a path through the gardens which goes up and down the hills of Monaco and get truly spectacular sights. I don’t understand why it was so quiet when we visited, but absolutely loved the relaxed vibe. The garden costs € 7 to enter for adults and there is a parking garage nearby, which costs about € 3 for 1,5 hours.
When in Monaco it is also a must to go to the Monte Carlo area and take a stroll around the casino and on the seaside. I am not a gambler, so I did not enter the casino, but it is sure worth it to admire the stunning architecture from outside. We even parked right underneath the casino, which was not expensive at all (first hour is free). If you visit early in the morning (9AM-12AM) you can pay € 10 to enter the casino just to have a look at the casino itself. In the morning you also have to dress properly: no shorts for men and no flip-flops.
The best secret of Monaco is displayed right behind the casino: the art installation by Victor Vasarely. Victor Vasarely is one of my favorite artists; his works are super colorful and often feature optical illusions. He has an enormous art installation right next to the Mediterranean, if you take a stroll behind the casino you will no doubt run into it.
One of the most fun things in Monaco is driving in Monaco itself! The traffic is quite relaxed, the roads are well indicated, so driving around is a good way to enjoy the high buildings and bizarre cars.
Menton is only a short drive from Monaco (15 minutes), so after our visit to Monaco we made a stop in Menton to have a quick bite and a glass of rosé. Menton is located right at the sea and has a lovely beach. Definitely one of the best spots to take a dip in the deep blue sea. When you go to one of the beach clubs, you can hire a chair and enjoy the sea in front of you and the colorful houses of Menton on your right. As the old-town of Menton is built on a hill, you will have amazing views of the town from the sea! During my previous visit to the Cote d’Azur we stayed in Menton longer and also enjoyed the colorful alleyways which are slowly making their presence known on Instagram 😉 The vibe of Menton is very different to Monaco, it is really beachy and not dressy at all. There are hardly any expensive shops and just a really relaxed atmosphere overall. We would have loved to stay longer, but Italy was calling!