Monte Carlo, Part 2

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

In the short time Sommer and I were in Monte Carlo, we absolutely fell in love. Monte Carlo is the perfect mix of the excitement of city life with quiet old town charm. There’s stunning views hidden in narrow, cobblestone shopping streets, gorgeous beaches, fabulous food, gardens, spas, larger-than-life hotels, and everything in the air just seems magical. We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing last day in Monaco.

If you missed it, be sure to check out part one of our weekend in Monte Carlo! :)

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

We started the day at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, the current and official residence of the Prince of Monaco (and also where Princess Grace lived). Every day at exactly 11:55am the changing of the guard takes place here.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

We explored the narrow alleyways of Old Town Monaco, established in the middle ages, weaving their way up the hill towards to palace.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

I could’ve spent all morning shopping (and eating!) here!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The palace is set atop a rocky boulder overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

There were panoramic views everywhere we turned as we made our way back down the hill.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

As we made our way back into Monte Carlo, the buildings turned hip and modern.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The beaches of Monte Carlo are gorgeous! There was a HUGE inflatable waterslide that I was DYING to go on. It had to have been 10 stories high. Next time for sure!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

If you are in Monte Carlo, be sure to walk through the Japanese Tea Garden!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Photo via Sommer.

Such a peaceful garden.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

After a full morning of walking all over Monaco, we were so excited to see a Ladurée macaron shop! How beautiful is this all-white carousel?

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Loved all these fun pastries!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

My favorite Ladurée macarons are vanilla, salted caramel, and strawberry candy. If you only get a few, those are totally my recommendations. But they have TONS of fun flavors!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

That afternoon we had lunch at the Michelin-starred L’Hirondelle at the Thermes Marins spa. We started with these prawn fritters with mango, avocado, tomatoes, and ponzu dressing. We also had the Fishes “à la plancha”, with fried zucchini blossoms, wild sea bass, organic salmon, and Mediterranean prawns. Seriously amazing!!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

We could not pass up this strawberry chocolate dessert. The perfect lunch overlooking the harbor!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

After lunch we had spa treatments at Thermes Marins, Monte Carlo’s state-of-the-art spa and haven of luxury and tranquillity. It was one of the most unforgettable spa experiences I have ever had.

It started with a full body, lavender-scented, exfoliating sea salt and argan oil scrub on a water bed. That pink massage table you see is actually a water bed. The bed shapes exactly to the body, minimizing pressure and allowing the muscles to fully relax. It was like floating on a cloud.

That was followed by a citrus-scented bath and hydrotherapy massage, a detox (water weight eliminating) cocoon-like mud wrap, and finally a Mediterranean massage using *PURE GOLD FLECKED* olive oil. I’m not making this stuff up.

I left with the softest skin ever with faint sparkles of pure gold all over.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

After our spa treatments we were ready for a night in Monte Carlo. We HAD to check out the famous Monte Carlo casino! Unfortunately this is all I can show you because there are no photos allowed inside, but I can say that while it was much smaller than I imagined it to be, it is SUPER swanky.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

This is the view right across from the casino. You can actually see a reflection of the casino in the circular mirror in the middle. This round garden is the Place du Casino, the heart of Monte Carlo. Around this circle are many famous sites in Monte Carlo, like the Casino above, as well as a few other sites below…

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Like the ultra swanky Monte Carlo Shopping Promenade. This is luxury shopping at its finest. Seriously a one-of-a-kind outdoor shopping experience!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

There’s Cafe de Paris and its casino.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Photo via Sommer.

And the legendary Hotel de Paris.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

We checked in for the night here. They automatically transferred our luggage from the Hotel Hermitage, so we didn’t have to do a thing.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Loved this lobby!

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Our room was gorgeous.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Loved this peaceful seating area.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Photo via Sommer.

But we spent most of our time out here…

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

…On our balcony overlooking the Place du Casino.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

With our decadent afternoon snacks! Homemade marshmallows, strawberry Linzer cookies, and chocolate-covered candied orange peel.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Here was the view from our balcony.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

We could see all the shoppers at the Monte Carlo Shopping Promenade.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

We had a direct view of the Monte Carlo Casino and all the major sites around the Place du Casino. I could sit out here and people-watch all day! The balconies of the Hotel de Paris are the place to see and be seen in Monte Carlo.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Photo via Sommer.

That evening was our last night in Monte Carlo, so we had a special dinner at the Michelin-starred Blue Bay restaurant.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The weather in Monte Carlo was gorgeous all weekend, so we ate every meal outside. Such a treat. When we first sat down, they brought around a huge basket with tons of gourmet bread offerings. It was hard not to fill up on all the fabulous rolls! And how precious is this — all the restaurants we ate at in Monte Carlo brought out these cute little footstools for our purses.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

This was our view as the sun set over our last night in Monte Carlo.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Dinner was phenomenal. The chef had prepared a special tasting menu just for us. Everything was amazingly fresh, delicious, and utterly gorgeous.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

For dessert, they brought out an iPad for the menu. As we were savoring the last bites of an exception meal, the neatest thing happened.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

A truly unbelievable fireworks show started to go off over the bay. I have honestly never in my life seen a fireworks show this amazing before. So many lights and colors. Disney comes close. But this was incredible. Towards the end I just had to put my camera down and watch in amazement. The perfect ending to the perfect weekend.

Best Things to See & Do in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The next morning we got up early for our next adventure. We started the day with room service pastries on the balcony. I am still dreaming about those crispy, buttery croissants.

Stay tuned for our next adventure in the French Riviera! :)


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Monte Carlo Night!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

After Kevin and I spent a week biking through the French countryside, my sweet friend Sommer met me in France for a fun girls week on the French Riviera! I hopped on a quick flight from southern France to the Nice Côte d’Azur airport to meet her there.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

I seriously could not get over the stunning views as we were flying into Nice!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

Our first stop was… Monte Carlo!! From the airport, you can get to Monte Carlo by taxi or train, but by far the most fun way is a helicopter!! It’s only a 7 minute ride, and it doesn’t cost that much more than a cab. I had never ridden in a helicopter before, so I was ALL OVER this!! :)

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

It was so fun! It wasn’t too loud, and we didn’t have to wear headphones or anything.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

The views flying into Monaco were amazing!!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

This was seriously one of the highlights of the trip, and it only went uphill from here.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco! Photo via Sommer

We stayed at the amazing Hotel Hermitage in Monte Carlo.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

If you want pure luxury, the Hotel Hermitage is the place to be!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

The hotel was gorgeous. It was like a museum!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

I am so completely in love with our room. I wanted to move in!

Hotel Hermitage in Monte Carlo, Monaco

And the bathroom. Oh my word. Just look at that tub!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

They had two dozen long-stem white roses, bottles of water, and Ladurée macarons waiting for us.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

And how incredible is this view??

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

Here’s a panoramic look at the view outside our window.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

Our balcony overlooked the Monte Carlo Harbor.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

Loved waking up to this view!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

We also had a special invitation waiting for us, handwritten in calligraphy.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

It was inviting us to be a part of the Monte-Carlo Shopping Promenade, celebrated with live music, luxury shopping brands, and gourmet food trucks run by Monte-Carlo SBM’s eminent chefs. That is the famous Monte Carlo Casino you see in the background!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco! Photo via Sommer

Everyone got a fun straw hat from this cute blue car!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

Of course we had to check out the food trucks! Our first stop was at the Buddha-Bar truck. All the trucks represented restaurants around Monte Carlo, and were run by the executive chefs of the restaurant. Buddha-Bar had AMAZING sushi!! I guess I was not expecting to find sushi in Monaco, but it makes sense since they are on the water! It was honestly the best sushi I have ever had. I am still dreaming about this sushi! If you are ever in Monte Carlo, you HAVE to go to Buddha-Bar!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco! Photo via Sommer

Our next stop was at Le Vistamar. Le Vistamar is a restaurant inside the Hotel Hermitage. We actually had dinner reservations here later that night!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

Le Vistamar had mini lobster rolls. So good!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

They also had a Strawberry Pavlova dessert. To die for.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

Next we hopped on this fun mini train to the next stop! There was live music and incredible food everywhere. Such an unforgettable night. Monte Carlo knows how to throw a party!

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

That night we had a phenomenal dinner at the Michelin-starred Le Vistamar restaurant inside the Hotel Hermitage. Fish, lobster, risotto, ravioli. Everything was incredible. And gorgeous. We ordered the bigger version of the Strawberry Pavlova we tried at the food truck, since we loved the mini version so much. We also ordered the “Signature Vistamar”, a strawberry cream cake with strawberry sorbet and violet granita. It was here we learned that if there is ever a strawberry dessert on the menu in Monte Carlo, you order it. Just don’t even ask questions.

Best things to do in Monte Carlo, Monaco!

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel. The Hermitage has an impressive breakfast buffet with pastries, tons of cereal options, meats, cheeses, eggs, and sausage. They also had a crepe bar! America has omelette bars, Monte Carlo has crepe bars! Of course I had to start the day with a Nutella crepe. ;)

Stay tuned for day 2 in Monte Carlo!! :)


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Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

A few weeks ago Kevin and I spent a week biking through the warm and sunny south of France. I shared part one of our trip last week. Be sure to check it out for more photos of the breathtaking French countryside! :)

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

On our third day biking through picturesque villages and sprawling wheat fields, we stopped for lunch in beautiful town of Laguépie. Laguépie is a teeny tiny village on the Aveyron river with a population of less than 800 residents.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

We stopped for a picnic lunch along the banks of the river with the ruins of this medieval chateau as our view. The water was warm and shallow enough for wading to cool our feet after riding all morning.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries) Top left photo via The Global Trip

After lunch, we hopped back on our bikes and rode some more. And this is why you should always pay attention to road signs, my friends. See that teeny tiny sign in the top left photo? We were riding through honestly the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but gorgeous scenery and golden wheat fields to be seen for miles. We came to this tiny road sign, and above it was an even tinier sign that said “Sorbets” with an arrow.

Well, when you’re in the south of France, in the middle of nowhere, and you come to a sign that says “Sorbets” you obviously follow the arrow. So we did, and we came to this small, ghost-town-like village. There were no shops, no restaurants, no people, just homes. Like a tiny country neighborhood. We thought there’s no way there’s a sorbet shop here… And even if there is, there’s no way it’s open! We kept going though, and eventually saw another sorbet sign! With another arrow! We were encouraged and kept following. And sure enough… After a few more minutes we came to this little house with a sorbet sign out front. There was even the cutest pink couch outside for sitting and eating sorbet.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries) Top right photo via The Global Trip

We peeked inside, and basically it was like an artist’s studio, filled with arts, and crafts, and hand-painted postcards from the artist herself. She spent her days living and painting in the French countryside, and selling her homemade organic sorbet to those who happen to wander through. It was honestly one of the neatest experiences I have ever had. What an amazing life!

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

I got strawberry and raspberry. Amazing!!

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries) Top left photo via The Global Trip

Late that afternoon we made our way to Cordes-sur-Ciel. In 2014 the French people voted this small hilltop town their favorite village in France. And I can totally see why. This was such a fun stop. I am so glad we got to spend a night in this beautiful village. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it! There are fun, colorful shops along the narrow, cobblestone streets. There’s endless wandering and relaxing to be had. There’s even a museum fully dedicated to chocolate! They had samples and of course a gift shop where we bought some souvenirs. ;)

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries) Top left photo via The Global Trip

Cordes-Sur-Ciel literally translates to “Cordes on the sky”. This small village sits on the highest hill in the area, and it feels like you’re in the sky because you can look all around you and see the vast surrounding French countryside beneath you.

We stayed at the Hostellerie du Vieux Cordes, and had an amazing dinner on the terrace at sunset. Loved the profiteroles for dessert!

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

The next morning I had a warm baguette, hot and fresh from the oven, with European butter and this stunning view of the French countryside below.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

We spent a little more time exploring this beautiful, colorful town before hopping on our bikes and heading for our next destination. We found an ice cream shop with hazelnut, salted caramel, and Biscoff, so of course I had to try. ;)

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

We rode through so many beautiful villages, with tons of stops to explore. It was like we had the entire village to ourselves.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

We cycled through farms and countryside among shining golden wheat fields.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

On our final evening we came to the medieval city of Albi.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

Albi was much larger than any of the other small villages we had previously been, but still relatively small, with a population of around 50,000 residents.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

In the picture of us above, we are standing on this bridge, built in 1035. It still stands nearly 1,000 years later.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

This was the panoramic view of the city from our hotel.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

We visited the cathedral and of course found gelato along the way. ;) That’s the good thing about biking 25 miles a day. It makes ice cream taste so. darn. good. ;)

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries)

We had a lovely last meal at La Table du Sommelier.

Summer Bucket List!! Biking through the French Countryside. (Click for travel tips and itineraries) Photo via The Global Trip

The next day Kevin headed back home to Alabama, and I hopped on a quick flight to meet up with my amazing friend Sommer for a fabulous girls week in the French Riviera.

First stop… Monte Carlo. :)

Until next time! xoxo


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