It was late in the afternoon when we came to the hilltop where the Prince’s Palace of Monaco is perched. We only had less than two hours to roam the area because the shops and other establishments were closing for the day. Pity, because I liked this area more than the casino area where we spent most of the time.

It’s calmer in this area, and you can see down to the high rise luxury houses and see gardens on rooftops. That’s a dream apartment for me: a condo with a rooftop garden.

We didn’t go in the palace, so we could only judge it from its facade. It didn’t look so royal, compared to other huge palaces. It even looked quite modern. But perhaps it was because much of it was renovated during Prince Rainier III:s (Grace Kelly’s hubby) time.

But it is built from an old palace. It is the only palace of the ruling Grimaldi family since the 13th century. While other European rulers built several palaces, the Grimaldi family didn’t bother to build extra, but instead built extra wings, towers and the like in the same palace.

During the time of the French Revolution, France annexed Monaco and took over the palace. It was during this time that many art collections and furniture in the palace were plundered. There was also a princess from Monaco that was guillotined at that time. Monaco bird Monaco mussels Monaco palace guard Monaco Prince's palace 2 Monaco Prince's palace 3 Monaco Prince's Palace

But oh Monaco and the Grimaldi family had a reputation for being louche, decadent. That’s because the wealth of the royal family and this tiny nation came from the casino. Monte Carlo was (and is still) the playground of the rich. So Great Britain’s Queen Victoria (the lady who inspired Victorian morality) snubbed the country. She refused to rub elbows with the Grimaldis.

Now finally there was this lady, Alice Heine, who became the second wife of Prince Albert I (easier to remember as the great grandfather of Prince Rainier the III.) Alice Heine had ambitions of wiping out the bad risqué reputation of Monaco. She wanted Monaco to be one of Europe’s great cultural centers with its opera. And she really did have projects towards that goal.

She even wanted to turn the casino into a home for the poor. But this didn’t push through because she and her hubby separated. It turned out she was having an affair with a composer and thus got slapped by the prince in public.

But Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly did lots to change Monaco’s image. So the story goes.

How we got to Monaco:
We took a bus. There was a train strike in France, so we were forced to take a bus. But damn, the bus was crowded! But since this is not Sweden, they let as many people in as the bus could take.
My six-year old daughter got dizzy, luckily I had an abanico and fanned wildly.

Positive: It was nice to see the coastline.

We hopped off after the casino, walked around the area for hours and then down to the grand prix circuit where we found a restaurant offering moules mariniéres (that’s tahong) then ascended up the hill to the palace – on foot!