Surrounded by France and the Mediterranean, Monaco is home to mega-yachts, the Formula 1 Grand Prix and more supercars (Bentleys and Lamborghinis galore) than, possibly, Monégasque citizens. But this adult playground is also at the forefront of an inspiring environmental revolution, establishing itself as a world leader in sustainable tourism. From electric cars to forward- thinking hotels, here’s how you can minimize your footprint when you touch down and stay a while.
Drop your bags off at newly refreshed Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, the elegant 1864 Belle Époque palace now awarded Green Globe certification for its commitment to the environment and the social components. While rooms are lavish – velvet armchairs, silk throws, gilded mirrors, sea views – the hotel’s style does not come at the expense of sustainability. There’s a comprehensive recycling program in place, transportation is either electric or hybrid, and initiatives have been implemented to reduce CO2 emissions throughout. Another stay with a green attitude is Hotel Metropole, which prioritizes local suppliers. Following the law passed few years ago and like all the hotels in Monaco, the Hotel Metropole has banned plastic straws. It also has its own ‘green committee’ to oversee operations..
Cross Monaco’s yacht-studded Port Hercules by Bus Boat, the electric-powered boat shuttle that forms part of Monaco’s bus network and connects iconic Monte-Carlo with Le Rocher, Monaco’s atmospheric old town. Travelers visiting the Rock of Monaco who wish to go to Monte-Carlo can also cross the Saint-Martin gardens, descend via Fort Antoine, enjoy a pleasant crossing on the Bus Boat, then take a bus back to the Casino. The Bus Boat is another form of sustainable transport in line with Monaco’s goal to reduce the reliance on personal cars. Once off the shuttle, make the most of the facilities at the city’s smart bus shelters. These freshly minted depots offer interactive location displays, real-time transport information and free Wi-Fi.
Le Rocher thrusts skywards on a pistol-shaped rock, its strategic location overlooking the sea. Explore the neighborhood’s labyrinth of medieval lanes on foot, starting at La Condamine Market to pick up provisions for a picnic lunch. More than 120 years old, the covered space is a riot of colors and aromas, with delis and cheesemongers beside stalls where you can order grilled seafood and fresh pasta and taste the “Barbagiuan”, a monegasque speciality.
Still in Le Rocher, enjoy a short walk to the principality’s first public park, St Martin Gardens, opened in 1816. Wander along paths hemmed by pine and oak trees, and discover the new “Biodiversity Trail” then find a grassy perch to spread your picnic rug overlooking the ocean. This leafy haven adds to Monaco’s staggering amount of green space, which now represents more than 20 percent of the principality and some 23,000 plants.
Dust off the crumbs and stroll to the Oceanographic Museum, founded by reigning monarch Prince Albert II’s great-great-grandfather Prince Albert I, who created the space to watch over the oceans more than a century ago. Today, its 6,000 artefacts provide an important message about the preservation of global marine environments.
Leaving the museum, make the most of a new smartphone app. Download Citymapper to determine your nearest MonaBike, a network of electric bikes installed as part of the principality’s policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions while improving shared mobility and living conditions; the app will also allow you to plot the fastest route to your chosen destination, thanks to detailed options favoring environmentally friendly car- and bike-sharing schemes as well as walking trails and public transport. When you’re done exploring, head back to your hotel to check in and dress up for dinner.
Leaving Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, tap ‘Monte-Carlo Beach’ into your Citymapper app. This waterside hotel is home to one of the principality’s most well known dining rooms, with seasonal eatery Elsa (open daily from March through October) and one of the world’s only 100-per-cent organic, eco-certified restaurant. Mod-Mediterranean cuisine is masterfully crafted, with all produce sourced from organic farms located within a 150-kilometre radius.
There’s more time on two wheels this morning. While Monaco has enjoyed an extensive e-bike-sharing network for years, the “Monabike” fleet was completely upgraded recently: 390 state-of-the-art bikes are now available. These high- tech chariots come with pedal-assist technology – a must, given Monaco’s hilly terrain – and can be given a zap at 43 charging stations around town. Use Citymapper to find your nearest ride and plot your route to the upmarket southern suburb of Fontvieille.
Ditch your wheels and amble along Fontvieille’s Heritage Trees Trail. Among a handful of self-guided green walks across the principality, the trail was established to combat deforestation through different leafy neighborhoods (the other two being Monaco-Ville and Monte-Carlo). Download a map and tick off plants – there are more than 1,000 – protected by a ‘Tree Code’, classifying them according to age, height and species rarity.
It would be remiss to visit the principality and not enjoy a meal prepared by Monaco culinary stalwart Alain Ducasse, at the helm of two restaurants in Hôtel de Paris. With its three Michelin stars, the Louis XV – Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris is as delightfully surprising as ever. The most prestigious restaurant in Monaco is inspired by the Riviera and la dolce vita. Chefs Dominique Lory and Alain Ducasse have created a modern and contemporary menu. Through flavorful sauces, intense broths and fresh condiments, the chef creates and reveals flavors with exactitude and precision.
Monaco’s coastline may be small, but it’s certainly mighty, with ocean-loving HSH Albert II ensuring the principality’s waters are well preserved for future generations. Head to Larvotto Beach or the caves of Les Spélugues, both of which are protected marine reserves. If you’re planning to swim, be sure to bring a change of clothes to slip into before your Michelin-starred dinner.
Reserve a table on the terrace at Blue Bay, an applauded restaurant where flavours of the Caribbean and Mediterranean mingle on your plate. Chef Marcel Ravin’s masterful dishes include castagnole fish and cuttlefish from Mediterrannée, and his signature slow- cooked organic egg with cassava, truffle and passionfruit is bliss in a mouthful. Ravin also offers a vegan menu featuring produce from the kitchen’s gardens, planted in consultation with Terrae. This local crowd is behind some of the most groundbreaking urban organic fruit and vegetable gardens in Europe; it also offers agriculture classes and workshops, like a tasting of edible flowers and herbs. Forward-thinking and sustainable – this is Monaco in a snapshot.