Time Zone: Central European Standard Time = GMT+1, Central European Summer Time = GMT+2
Tipping: Tips are not compulsory and in France there are no generally established rules, although it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service you have received.
There are only two small countries in the world, one of them is the Vatican and the other is Monaco, a stunning resort located along the beautiful French Riviera. What it lacks in size, Monaco certainly makes up for in the glitz and glam stakes something you'll no doubt discover on coach holidays to the French Riviera.
Driving in Monaco is not advised as you will be using up valuable sightseeing time in search of a suitable parking space, instead the authorities here advise that you explore by foot or hire a taxi. Monaco is fully accessible for walkers although the gradients can vary somewhat particular at the Exotic Gardens where a gentle stroll can turn into a vigorous hike so be wary of this if you have mobility problems. To aid walking in Monaco, you will come across several public escalators and elevators (free of charge) that will help you to navigate some of the slopes.
When in Monaco on coach tours, you should make a bee-line for the beautiful Port Hercule as it is here where elegant private sailing vessels, such as stunning white yachts, are moored up by their owners. Many visitors to this part of Monaco will sit back, have a drink and admire the yachts, possibly dreaming that one day they will own one. Port Hercule and Port Fontvieille also act as embarkation points for cruise ships so you may get to see one of these mighty vessels up close too.
The area has become a haven for sports enthusiasts as this is where the Monaco Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Rally take place every year. The Monaco Grand Prix is referred to by many as one of the most prestigious motor races in the world and attracts thousands of people who descend upon the area whenever the race comes to town so if you're not a motor-racing fan, it would be best to avoid it.
There is a combination of historic and modern when it comes to sights to see whilst holidaying in Monaco with wide range of museums, palaces, shopping malls and casinos. To get about more easily, why not learn where all the short cuts are in Monte Carlo and Monaco by purchasing a map from news vendor stands for a small charge. Step back into Medieval Times with a visit to Monaco-Ville, a village that is known locally as 'the rock' where you can explore Prince's Palace, the Cathedral and Saint Martin Gardens. Throughout the day, there are guided tours of the Palace where you can also enjoy panoramic views of the Port and Monte Carlo. If you get to the Palace before 11.55 AM you will be able to see the 'Changing of the Guard' which takes place at the same time every day.
If your purse strings allow, why not try your luck in the Grand Casino? You will need your Passport to enter the Casino and do note that entry fees vary depending on which room you intend to visit. You can visit the Casino without gambling but a nominal fee will be charged. You should also be aware of the strict dress code where men must wear jackets and ties. There are many other sights to see whilst staying in Monaco so do make time to visit La Condamine, the Monaco Opera House and the Exotic Gardens. Shopping enthusiasts will love Monaco but please note that the shops tend to be exclusive and are no place for those on a tight budget, be prepared to max out that credit card or simply window shop and dream!
Tour packages to Monaco will usually include either return flights or coach travel and accommodation for the duration of your stay. Some of the breaks will include excursions as well as time at leisure to explore the area. There may also be a programme of optional excursions to complement your break.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in France, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
When visiting France you should always ensure you have a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC isn't a substitute for travel and medical insurance, however it does entitle you to state-provided medical treatment should it become necessary during your trip. Any treatment is on the same terms as the French nationals. The EHIC does not cover medical repatriation, on-going treatment or non-urgent medical treatment, so you should always make sure you have adequate travel insurance in addition to the EHIC and also access to funds which can cover the cost of any medical treatments and also repatriation.
As with a lot of destinations, common sense applies. Always take sensible precautions against car and street crime and do not keep your passport, money, credit cards and valuables in the same place. Inside pockets and compartments of bags can be useful also. Always try to carry your bag across your body rather than on one shoulder. Do not be distracted close to tourist attractions and be observant when using cash points. Pickpockets can work in groups; one person might try to distract you whilst another goes into your bag, and always keep your belongings close by when in bars and restaurant.
Pickpockets and thieves operate on the Paris underground system and also on the R E R lines. There have been a number of victims of serious assault on line B of the R E R, which serves the major tourist hubs; Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and also Paris Gare du Nord Eurostar terminal. There have also been assaults on line D of the RER, which serves the Stade de France.
Please also note that drinks served in bars and restaurants overseas often have a higher alcohol content than those in the UK.
Local Laws and Customs
In France concealing your face in public places is illegal, which includes full veils, balaclavas or any other mask or garment that conceals the face. Failure to comply with this ban can incur a maximum fine of €150. Under this law, if you force someone to hide their face, you may be entitled to year's imprisonment in addition to a fine of up to €30,000. The sentence will be doubled if the it is a minor who has been forced to hide their face. The law doesn't provide any exemption for tourists and visitors, so beware if you're visiting in the winter.
If your passport is that of a British Citizen you do not need a visa to enter France. However, if you are another type of British nationality it is advised to check the current entry requirements French Foreign Ministry website prior to travel: diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/france/coming-to-france/getting-a-visa/article/foreign-nationals-holding-ordinary. When staying up to 3 months your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay; you do not need to have any additional period of validity beyond this.
Any other nationality looking to visit France must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
For further information on France please go to the Official Tourism Website: uk.franceguide.com/
Although Monaco is a small country, there are a number of fabulous sights to see and places to explore during your time here. Here are just a few that should appear on your sightseeing 'to do' list:
Louis XV Restaurant, Hotel de Paris
If you fancy splurging the cash when it comes to gourmet dining, you'll do no wrong with a visit to this luxurious Michelin 3 star restaurant. Each meal is exquisitely prepared by Alain Ducasse but it will come with a hefty price tag. The restaurant is also home to one of the world's largest wine collections, its cellars contain 250,000 bottles of wine, some of which are priceless! Reservations are a must and the dress code is very strict.
Jardin Exotique (Exotic Gardens)
There are many gardens to visit in Monaco, but you should make a point of visiting the Exotic Gardens where you will be treated to a display of thousands of rare plants that have been collected from around the world such as cacti and subtropical species. You will get to see these plants on a guided walking tour that regularly take place every hour. Do note though that the tour is in French and the area is elevated at different altitudes.
A popular place to visit when holidaying in Monaco where you can admire the many luxurious yachts that line the marina. You may have the opportunity to visit the Condamine Market as well as enjoying the beautiful varied landscapes. Sample local specialities such as socca and pissaladieres then head to the esplanade and take in the scents of the wonderful Herb Market.