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Monte Carlo Cruises

The independent principality of Monaco is famous as the playground of the Cote d'Azur. With spacious beaches, elegant hotels and a vibrant nightlife, this tiny domain is a favorite haunt of the jet set. In the possession of the Grimaldi family for almost 700 years, a treaty with France guarantees Monaco's independence as long as the throne is occupied by one of the Grimaldis.The principality numbers only about 50,000 citizens and is smaller than New York's Central Park, but it boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

In addition to its luxury hotels and beautiful beaches, Monaco is noted for its mild climate and magnificent scenery. Once an exclusive wintering stop for Europe's aristocracy, today there are more than two million visitors annually. Of the principality's four sections - Monaco, La Condamine, Monte Carlo and Fontvieille - it is Monaco and Monte Carlo that rank highest on every visitor's must-see list.

Sitting on a rocky peninsula, Monaco-Ville is the old city and the seat of Monaco's government. Narrow streets lead to the Prince's Palace high above the sea. The 19th-century Romanesque cathedral contains impressive works of art and the tomb of Princess Grace, while the Parliament building and the Oceanographic Museum, under the auspices of the Jacques Cousteau Society, offer additional points of interest. The Grand Casino is perhaps Monaco's most outstanding attraction. For more than a century, the principality's livelihood was centered beneath the copper roof of this splendid establishment. The resemblance to the Paris Opera House is less than accidental since they share the same architect, Charles Garnier. Also facing the square are the famed Hotel de Paris and the more modest Cafe de Paris. The latter features souvenir shops, slot machines and a sidewalk cafe.

Monte Carlo spells sophistication; it is the epitome of elegance and glamour.Year after year, the rich and famous of business and entertainment gather here to bask in the sun, gamble at the world's most opulent casino and attend spectacular parties. The most splendid hotels, several fine theaters, museums and excellent restaurants cater to the world's elite. Nothing typifies more the elegant lifestyle of the Cote d'Azur than glamorous Monte Carlo.

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