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Monaco, Monte Carlo

An intimate enclave of castles and mansions perched high on a sun-washed ledge above the blue waters of the Mediterranean, the mile-wide principality of Monaco is the glittering jewel of the French Riviera.

At its heart is the glamorous city of Monte Carlo, playground of the rich and famous. World-renowned for its chic gambling casinos, luxurious hotel and beach resorts, and elegant restaurants and boutiques, Monte Carlo rose to fairy tale stature in the 1950's with the romance and wedding of its sovereign ruler, Prince Rainier II, to Hollywood movie star Grace Kelly, the much beloved Princess Grace of Monaco.

The city's most dazzling residence is the vast Royal Palace, home to the Grimaldi family of Prince Rainier and the late Princess Grace. The majestic Italianate structure with its pink walls is one of the world's most recognized landmarks. The daily changing of the guard, which takes place every morning at precisely 11:55 AM is a regal display not to be missed.

St. Nicholas Cathedral, an imposing building in the Byzantine-Renaissance style, is where the world-captivating storybook wedding of the Prince and Princess took place in 1955, and is now the hallowed site of her tomb.

In contrast to the sacred chapel is the spectacular Grand Casino. Try your luck at the roulette table, soak up the ambiance of its belle epoche salons and gaming rooms, and stroll the casino's exotic and colorful public gardens.

Unique in themselves are the seaside resorts of Nice and Cannes, Monte Carlo's glamorous neighbors on the fabled French Riviera. Elegant hotels, villas and outdoor cafes look out over the white sands and the blue sea of Cote d'Azur, while each year, Cannes' famous film festival draws celebrities from across the globe. To fully appreciate the area's harmony between land, sky and sea, climb the hill to the quaint village of Eze for it's breathtaking views, sightsee along the Golden Corniche and the yacht-filled harbor of La Condamine.
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