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Q&A by Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I am a recent university grad who wants to visit Monaco. I heard you should have enough money to enjoy yourself there. Is this true? And if it is are there any cheaper ways to have fun there?

A: Stay away during high season which the Monaco Tourism Office reports is spring and summer. This is when you’ll be paying heftier fees than usual. And seeing that the handful of hotels here cater to the rich and famous, there are no deals below let’s say $350US for a hotel room. So why not stay on the outskirts?

Daytrips into the world’s smallest country after the Vatican can be easily done independently or via tours. For independent travelers, daily train services and buses arrive to Monaco.

The Monaco Tourism web site www.visitmonaco.com has a Travel Agent locator where you can plug in Ontario and select your specialty. Topics include art, cruise, culture, events, honeymoon, sightseeing and more.

For attractions, several sites are free or fairly priced. For 15 Euros ($30), you can get the thrill of your life and walk around the swanky Monte Carlo casino. The Cathedral where Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier are buried receives visitors daily where the gorgeous film queen receives fresh cut flowers daily.

The views around Monaco are to die for. Just walk along the boardwalk and capture the million dollar yachts of the world’s biggest tycoons. Some gizzillionaire yachts known to frequent the harbor include parking lot tycoon Sir Donald Gosling’s Leander, Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga’s Aussie Rules, Harrod’s Mohamed Al Fayed’s Sokar on which his son Dodi and Princess Diana spent their last days among many more.

For 1.45 Euro (2 bucks) hop aboard the city bus and go from one of the two ports up to the casino and venture through the streets where the famous Monte Carlo Grand Prix makes its historic annual race.

Another free experience is to watch the changing of the guard ceremony at the palace. This daily exhibit starts at 11:55AM and showcases the longstanding guards who shimmy from the portico to the centre of the plaza, hail their rifles skyward, then quickly click their heels and walk in opposite direction where they stand stone face for hours.

Lined with batteries of cannons cast during the reign of Louis XIV, the Place du Palais offers a unique panoramic view overlooking the Port and Monte-Carlo, stretching as far as Bordighera in Italy, Fontvieille and Cap-d’Ail. Food is expensive so brown bag it. It’s great to pick up local delicacies from the South of France like nearby Nice where the markets are always popular. A baguette, cheese and a bottle of wine make the perfect intro to this famous city.

Lastly, travelers seeking bargains in Monaco should visit www.MonacoAuction.com for packages and deals at up to 70 per cent off retail.

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