Monaco Gardens you Should Visit
Greenery and open spaces are not the first things that come to mind when you think about Monaco. Gardens are rare in the tiny city-state where most people live in apartments but there are several beautiful public spaces to be enjoyed and they all have their own distinctive characteristics. We put on our trainers and took a stroll.
The Jardin Japonais (Japanese Garden) comes as a surprise when you head towards the famous beaches in the Larvotto district. This lovely miniature landscape nestles between the Grimaldi Forum (a conference and congress centre) and what is currently a building site, yet somehow its magic still operates. The smallest of Monaco gardens covers 700m2 and was designed according to Zen principles. Admire the waterfall, beach and mountain and gaze at the Koi carp swimming among lotus flowers and lilypads in the ponds. The wood used to build the tea house and bridge comes from Japan, just like Yasuo Beppu, the landscape architect who created this oasis of peace in 1994.
Casino Gardens and Terraces
The luxuriant gardens close to the Monte Carlo Casino provide a shady place to sit and relax in this busy district where many Monaco property investments are made. Known as Little Africa, these beautiful gardens are full of magnificent trees and subtropical plants. They run parallel to the manicured gardens that slope down to the casino itself. Behind the legendary building is another area that is well worth exploring and is often overlooked by tourists. The terraces of the casino will take you to a park area with some interesting, very photogenic sculptures. From here, admire breathtaking views over the Mediterranean and, to your right, the Old Town perched on its majestic rock.
Saint Martin’s Gardens
Saint Martin’s Gardens hug the southwest face of the Rock, the promontory on which the Old Town stands. These lovely gardens opened in 1816 and were created to provide work for the Monegasque people when famine struck the Principality. Spectacular views across the sea can be enjoyed from the steep paths that wind through lush Mediterranean and exotic plants and trees. Among the sculptures dotted across the gardens is a bronze work by Francis Cogne depicting Prince Albert I looking out to sea. Prince Albert I is the great-great grandfather of Prince Albert II of Monaco and is known as “the navigator prince” because of his passion for the sea and his pioneering work in oceanography. He also founded the Oceanographic Museum, a Monaco must-see close to Saint Martin’s Gardens.
Parc Princesse Antoinette
The Parc Princesse Antoinette has long been a favourite haunt for families in Monaco. Perched high up in the Jardin Exotique district, this public space with its centuries-old olive trees is perfect for children but is also a great spot for sitting down and admiring the views. Children will love the sandpit, swings and mini-zoo, with its rabbits and goats. Older kids will enjoy playing table-tennis, badminton, basketball or mini-golf.
The Jardin Exotique clings to a cliff high above the rest of the Principality and the Mediterranean sea and is probably the most spectacular of Monaco gardens. It owes its name to the exotic plants that grow between its steep winding paths. You can admire more than 1000 species of cacti and other succulents from the Americas, southern and eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Over the years, many have grown to impressive proportions. If you wander around the Jardin Exotique on a hot day, you’ll probably be happy to cool off in the prehistoric caves at the foot of the gardens. After descending the steps leading to the caves, you are greeted by the first of several caverns with their beautifully lit stalactites and stalagmites. Admission and a guided tour are included in the entry fee for the gardens.
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