TRAVEL

Monaco:

Green is the New Glam

October 16, 2018

Overlooking the Principality of Monaco and the Maritime Alps: one of the ranges of the Western Alps which forms part of the border between France and Italy

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

ADVERTISEMENT

A small principality that is known for its glittering blue seas, jet-set lifestyle, impressive line-up of luxury yachts, and of course, for being the home of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix; Monaco may not be the first place that comes to mind when we think of sustainable tourism destinations.

 

For most visitors, the aim is to visit some of the most iconic attractions, to watch the people go by and to drink in the atmosphere and get a feel of a lifestyle that many of us can only dream of. However, under the surface of this fizzing, champagne-popping Principality lies a hive of creative activity and ideas that are designed to meet stringent green targets and create a sustainable environment that protects the inherent beauty of this incredible section of the French Riviera. This commitment has led to a boom in sustainable tourism in Monaco with a raft of tourism organisations that have taken the sustainability message on board and are now wholeheartedly embracing it.

 

 

The Prince Albert II Foundation

 

Monaco is taking a top-down approach to their sustainability ethos - quite literally. The push is being supported by the work of Prince Albert II via his Foundation. Established in 2006, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation sets out to promote sustainable development on a global scale. It supports the initiatives of public and private organisations; in particular, those that focus on new technologies, research and development and socially aware practices.

 

The Foundation follows on from the work of Prince Albert II's great-great-grandfather Prince Albert I, who was a keen traveller and a well-renowned scientist who instituted the tradition of environmental concern and conservation behaviour.

 

The Foundation’s main geographical focus is, as one would expect, on the Mediterranean

basin, however it also turns its attention to the polar regions and the least developed countries, particularly those across Africa. With its main principles surrounding the promotion of renewable energy, the safeguarding of biodiversity and the management of water resources, it is easy to see why it has become one of the driving forces in this area of environmental support.

 

Various initiatives and projects have been undertaken by the Foundation including a number of environmental and climate change summits and sponsorships. These are designed to inform, inspire and implement relevant changes on a worldwide basis to achieve their goals.

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Nestled at the foot of the Rock of Monaco, Port de Fontvieille is one of the most sheltered ports in the region

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Green is the New Glam

 

With this backdrop in mind, it is hardly surprising that Monaco as a nation has followed many of these same environmental principles and has incorporated it into their day-to-day lives and activities. This has been highlighted by the recent “Green is the New Glam” campaign - a campaign which emphasises the importance of responsible tourism and is aimed at bringing worldwide attention to the impressive efforts being made by this tiny country and the huge impact it is having on the European and global stage when it comes to sustainable tourism.

 

Established by the Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority, the new initiative is focused mainly on bridging the gap between luxurious and responsible tourism. The campaign recognises that Monaco is set beside the sea and relies on this invaluable resource for its tourism industry and the subsequent revenue stream. Monaco acutely understands that the protection of the marine environment is a precondition to realising socioeconomic gains as a country and that's why it is keeping it high on its list of priorities.

 

The Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority works closely with the Principality's Energy Transition and follows the objectives set out by the mission which aims to cut the Principality’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% before 2030 and to reach total carbon neutrality by 2050. Through a number of wide-ranging initiatives, they are bringing on board all kinds of tourism-related businesses including hotels, restaurants and attractions. By building on the already clear and obvious environmental attributes inherent in the area, it is able to harness the ability to improve and evolve on this basis.

 

The campaign also recognises that the environmentally-friendly measures undertaken may possibly come as a surprise for some tourists, however, they are being seen as an opportunity to highlight these measures and to appeal to a more environmentally aware subset of tourists - one that is consistently growing and expanding. By establishing itself as an ecotourism destination for both business and leisure visitors, Monaco is able to secure its reputation as one of Europe's most progressive sustainable tourism destinations.

 

The Green is the New Glam campaign focuses on local gardens and parks, transport and hotels and restaurants - each with the potential to create new and exciting sustainable ways of improving their offerings and services. This is evidenced by the number of Green Key, Green Globe and Planet 21-awarded hotels and restaurants that already exist in Monaco.

 

This is then supported by a programme of educational awareness and local recycling to ensure that all citizens are well and truly on board with the plan. This avant-garde approach is winning the hearts and minds of locals and visitors alike and is already setting Monaco apart as an ecotourism destination that is also able to walk the talk. Make no mistake about it: this is not a half-hearted approach by any standards.

 

Monaco hopes to achieve sustainable and impactful development of their tourism industry without taking anything away from the glamorous and luxurious reputation it has already built. It is a tall ask, but one they are already achieving with the help of some of their most popular tourist attractions, along with new initiatives, policies and innovations. So what are some of the best sustainable and environmentally friendly places and practices you might come across the next time you visit Monaco?

 

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Jardin Exotique de Monaco (the Exotic Garden) brings together a wide variety of succulent plant species

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Parks and Gardens

 

Monaco is famous for its beautifully manicured gardens and parks. With year-round good weather set against the backdrop of azure blue skies and seas, the introduction of public gardens was an inevitable step. Many of these gardens were established by the Monarchy themselves, following in the tradition of their own global explorations, which cemented in their mind the need for preservation as the first priority, while still achieving beauty and practicality for the enjoyment of the local community All of the parks and gardens are expertly managed using eco-friendly principles, which includes the careful management of water, reduced use of pesticides and a commitment to planting, maintaining and preserving

flora species from the area and their dependent ecosystems.

 

Fontvieille Park is probably the most famous of the Principality’s parks and is settled in the centre of the city as a haven for families and (often!) protection from the summer sun. Not only can visitors enjoy the botanical delights, but they can also gaze upon a number of works of art along the meandering pathways. There is also a children’s playground, a landscaped pond and free-range ducks and geese. The park features an educational kitchen garden and a prodigious variety of Mediterranean plants and trees.

 

 

 

 

The Princess Grace Rose Garden is beautiful and filled with rich fragrances

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Also set within the Fontevieille Park is the Princess Grace Rose Garden with its English garden layout, enhanced by Mediterranean olive trees. Opened in 1984, the park features a statue of the late Princess Grace and as many as 315 different rose bush varieties separated into 7 themes. The Princess Grace Rose Garden was awarded the Espace Végétal Ecologique (EVE) certification by Ecocert due to its careful maintenance and the activities offered throughout the year that focus on sustainability issues.

 

Princess Antoinette Park was designed as a park for children and is certainly a fun place to spend any afternoon. As you'd expect, the park is carefully maintained and the recent addition of a 'Zen Space' offers a place of serenity away from the bustling city. However, it is the sports grounds, table tennis, badminton courts and the mini-farm that bring many families to this relaxing location. Oh, and let's not forget the cafe that serves food and drink to parents while their children play happily.

 

Drawing on the natural landscape, the Exotic Garden and Observatory Cave houses a huge variety of succulent plants and cacti. Opened in 1933, the gardens and caves are situated high above the city; offering visitors an impressive view of the Mediterranean. The planting makes use of a number of species from arid parts of the world and therefore is perfect for this warm climate. Additionally, these plants require very little water - which subsequently reduces the level of maintenance and care needed. For the brave, guided cave tours are offered and these celebrate the beauty of the rock of the surrounding cliffs and the unique animals and insects that dwell in its depths.

 

Centered around the love of the exotic, the Japanese Garden was first opened in 1994 and is founded upon the strictest principles of Zen garden design. Featuring a pond, a waterfall, lanterns and bridges, as well as a tea house, the garden is an oasis of calm and tranquillity. The garden is overseen by renowned Japanese landscape architect Yasuo Beppu, who comes to visit regularly to ensure it is retaining all of its quintessential Japanese charm.

 

 

A paraglider sails over Monte Carlo Country Club on a beautiful summer's day

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Outdoor activities and tourist attractions

 

Being a waterfront nation, there is a colossal focus on the availability of outdoor activities such as watersports and water-based tours in Monaco. As well as a number of boat tours, the more adventurous can explore the Mediterranean itself and experience firsthand the beauty of these famous clear blue seas as well as the animals that make it their home. Land lovers can explore walking paths and cycle trails while drinking in the diversity of the local flora and fauna - not to mention the breathtaking sea views.

 

Monaco is split into districts - each with its own unique personality. These include Monaco town, Monte-Carlo, La Condamine, and Fontvieille. Monaco’s ability to live within the strict confines of the sea and the mountains is no more evident than in the Fontvieille area. This district has been almost entirely artificially reclaimed from the sea using modern technology and it now houses high-tech and non-polluting businesses and is set to become Monaco's first Smart City.

 

With a strong naval tradition, it is not surprising that many events surround the ocean and these are now being combined with a sustainability message. The Monaco Yacht Club holds a number of events throughout the year, as well as courses for young sailors and those wanting to pick up the skills. One of the most popular events is the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation-supported Solar & Energy Boat Challenge - a race between different clean energy sources. Showcasing innovations in watersports, this event takes place during the summer months and features the young engineers of the future: those that use clean energy technology to design the yachts that Monaco hopes to see embracing its shores in years to come.

 

 

Larvotto Beach is undoubtedly Monaco's most popular sandy beach and a must for sun worshippers

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

While Monaco is entirely on the seafront, opportunities for a beach holiday are limited due to the magnificent harbour that occupies a great deal of the seafront. However, Larvotto Beach certainly more than makes up for this. Covering two coves and stretching for around 400 metres, the easy access beach is designed to make it easy for tourists and locals to enjoy the crystal clear waters. The beach features a playground area, a number of restaurants and even a beach volleyball site.

 

The beach welcomes people with disabilities with access ramps and even an audio-beach facility that allows the blind to navigate the beach and the water with safety. Other beaches nearby include the private Crique des Pêcheurs, a rarely visited stretch of narrow beach with a gravel finish. As this is a beach for the experienced swimmer, it is a little more dangerous than most. The Solarium Beach is an artificial bathing area and is only open when the seas are calm. The water is very deep, but the outlook is, as to be expected, most beautiful.

 

For the past nine years, the Monaco Tourist Authority, along with the Monaco City Hall and the Société Monégasque d’Assainissement, have been promoting the Monaco Plage Propre campaign with the aim of cleaning up the local beaches. Free portable ashtrays which double up as small disposal bags are available and they've even established a special no-smoking zone. But this is much more than your typical clean beach initiative. Personnel are employed to engage with the public on the ground level in order to help raise awareness and provide more information about the importance of looking after our environment.

 

 

 

The 'Whale Room' (Salle de la Baleine) at the Oceanographic Museum offers eye-popping views of marine skeletons

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Monaco is one of the very few countries that you can explore entirely on your feet. It takes just 45 minutes to walk from one side to the other - although you will certainly be distracted along the way. For tree lovers, the Heritage Tree Trail offers a complete understanding of the green heritage of the region. The trail was established to link with the Tree Code that was adopted in 2011. The code allowed some trees to be classified as "remarkable" trees under three categories: biological (age, height), botanical (the rarity of the species) and social/environmental (the history of the tree and its planting). The trail takes the walker on a

pleasant journey to discover these remarkable trees and each includes an information plaque to give a bit more background.

 

For lovers of the ocean who prefer to keep their feet dry, the Oceanographic Museum is the perfect day trip for families. Founded by Monaco’s great reformer Prince Albert I, this museum is more than a century old and features more than 6,000 specimens from the marine world. Visitors can take a trip through aquariums that showcase coral reefs and the marine life of the Mediterranean. In the museum, displays highlight fossils, diving equipment and curiosities to delight and intrigue.

 

The museum was founded on the principles of science and was designed to promote the growth and development of oceanography. As part of this commitment by Prince Albert I, the Institute of Oceanography was founded in 1906, and is the very first oceanographic institution in the world, with none other than a certain Jacques Cousteau frequenting as a student at the facility.

 

The Oceanographic Museum has recently launched a new interactive exhibition entitled Monaco & the Ocean. 700m2 of floor space is dedicated to over 100 years' commitment of the Princes of Monaco to protecting the marine world. Collaborative games allow people to work together on the current major issues facing the oceans, whilst hands-on experiences engage visitors to discover the Principality’s unique and special relationship with the marine world - with the ultimate aim of raising some much-needed awareness of the necessity of protecting our oceans for future generations.

 

With more than a nod towards the monarchy’s interest in science, the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology is yet another attraction founded by Prince Albert I. His vow to “conserve traces of early humankind exhumed in the Principality and neighbouring regions” is one that has been upheld in the century that followed and the result is a museum of far-reaching proportions. First used to house the results of excavations from the nearby Grimaldi Caves in 1902, the museum is situated in the Exotic gardens and is home to a world-class exhibition of artefacts from the French Riviera. The museum is still involved in fieldwork and excavations, such as in the Observatory caves, plus they produce an annual scientific bulletin. The most popular exhibit is the woolly mammoth skeleton, however, visitors can enjoy a great number of temporary exhibitions as well.

 

 

Aerial view of the Grimaldi Forum

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Sustainable business tourism

 

Monaco now has a growing reputation as a place of excellence for the business community with a number of impressive venues suitable for conventions and high-level business meetings. This partly comes down to the actions of the Monaco Convention Bureau and the mandate handed down by the Monaco Tourist and Convention Authority.

 

Its mission is to offer a one-stop shop destination with a single coordinator for all M.I.C.E. needs, and they're certainly not letting business tourism play second fiddle to Monaco's mainstay tourism industry when it comes to sustainability.

 

Monaco has recently been inaugurated into the Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index as the representative destination from the Principality of Monaco. The Index recognises the efforts of its members to improve its commitment to sustainability by listing them on an index of comparison with other destinations. Many businesses use this index to assess the sustainability of possible partners and it has quickly become an invaluable tool for the meetings and events industry.

 

And with Monaco offering 100% green functions and official government support for all events held within its range of convention spaces, visitors can expect to be wowed by some of the world's finest and most sustainable venues.

 

The Grimaldi Forum Monaco is one such place. It is one of the first European Convention Centres to be awarded the coveted ISO 14001:2004 environmental management certification, and can host events, meetings, conventions, trade fairs and more from its 35,000 m2 space with ease. This impressive structure with its glass-enclosed atrium is a modern space designed to offer flexible areas for the needs of international clients. With a restaurant and its close proximity to local hotels, the Grimaldi is fast becoming favourite amongst convention organisers.

 

But it is not just the convention centre that sets Monaco apart as a sustainable option for business travellers, the infrastructure lends itself to the needs of all visitors.

 

 

 

The Monaco Electric Bicycle Service is a self-service electric bike system helping to cut down CO2 levels

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Cuisine

 

Many of the hotels and restaurants in this small Principality boast Michelin stars and some of the world’s most renowned chefs specifically choose to work in the area. With 170 restaurants, most types of cuisine are catered for, and all work to the sustainability principles you would expect. This includes a commitment to locally-sourced food, Fair Trade products, careful management of water and electricity and the continued development of local staff talent.

 

While fine dining may be on the menu when visiting Monaco, there are also many examples of simple and reasonably priced restaurants that are perfect for families or business travellers alike. Monegasque cuisine (the food of Monaco) includes Barbagiuan - a savoury chard and ricotta filled pastry, similar to a fried ravioli. Most families will have their own version of this national dish and it is most often eaten on the National Day of Monaco on November 19th. There is even a festival in honour of this delicious pastry.

 

Transport

 

Despite the country's long-standing reputation for hosting high-speed races, it is a somewhat surprisingly more sedate pace that welcomes tourists. And while it is certainly an enjoyable pleasure exploring Monaco on foot, taking advantage of the transport system couldn’t be easier. Thankfully the country has placed sustainability right at the heart of their transport system.

 

Since the start of 2007, bus tickets were reduced drastically in price, culminating in a 20% increase in the use of public transport. This has been supplemented by an electric bike scheme, which are available for use free of charge. Visitors can use these cycles on the local green trail or one of the many permanent cycle paths that Monaco has to offer.

 

More recently, visitors have been witnessing small and very cute electric vehicles taking to the streets. This boom in e-Mobility currently boasts around 1750 vehicles and electric vehicles drivers benefit from reduced parking charges and free use of one of the 600 charging stations. The government has offered a huge number of incentives to electric car owners to encourage their use and this is further enhanced by a vehicle sharing scheme known as Mobee which offers 50 cars throughout the Principality, and their sights are very much set on future expansion.

The luxurious five-star Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo is immersed in an authentic Belle-Époque décor

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Hotels

 

Despite its size, Monaco has a plethora of hotels ranging from luxury through to standard business fare. In recent months all Monaco hotels have signed up to a sustainability pledge designed to ensure they stick to common basic environmental principles. This means that as well as encouraging they responsible use of resources such as water and electricity, they support local initiatives on recycling, renewable energy and promoting green tourism to their patrons. This is sustainable awareness at its very best.

 

The Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo has to be one of the most recognisable hotels in the world, being featured in many movies (including no fewer than two James Bond movies). It is also one of the most luxurious with an almost legendary feel. Built in 1864 and located on the Place du Casino, the 107-room luxurious hotel features a 3 Michelin-star restaurant and is considered to have one of the best stocked wine cellars in the world storing a mind-boggling 350,000 bottles.

 

In recent months the hotel has been undertaking a programme of renovation work in a bid to meet the needs of the discerning modern luxury traveller. The aim of the renovation work is to meet the dream of creating a hotel that surpasses all others. This will include a garden courtyard, a new spa, fitness and pool area, a rooftop villa suite with a private garden and pool and will increase the number of rooms in the hotel to a staggering 200. The hotel will maintain its iconic facade while bringing the infrastructure into the 21st century.

 

The Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo is yet another example of the luxury that this nation can offer. With a smaller and more intimate feeling, the hotel is a few moments from the nearby luxury shopping areas and offers yet another Michelin-starred restaurant. The hotel offers a Winter Garden, a terrace with far reaching views and easy access to the beach and beach club - perfect for families. Business travellers are also catered for with a large function room and state of the art technology for all requirements.

 

For those wanting something less traditional and a little more contemporary, the more relaxed Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort is the perfect antidote to our busy lives. The location and setting of this hotel offers a family resort feel with a lagoon, indoor and outdoor pools, an on-site casino along with suites and duplexes for that perfect family holiday. Sustainability is exceptionally high on the agenda for the hotel. They are actively involved with local climate and energy efficiency projects and have received a wide range of awards, including Green Globe Gold and the SMEG e+ Trophy.

 

Once again, visitors can enjoy a Michelin-starred restaurant that fuses Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisines. The seafront bar offers the perfect wind down at the end of the day, watching the sun as it slowly disappears over the horizon.

 

The Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo is yet another wonderful place to lay your head and is intent on taking sustainability to a whole new level. The hotel has established a Green Committee comprising of 20 staff members. The objective of this team is to create initiatives surrounding key areas such as energy and water saving, recycling and the use of green and fair trade products.

 

The Monte-Carlo Beach offers an eclectic mix of a contemporary experience with the spirit of the French Riviera's golden era. Utlising 100% renewable energy, and upholding the strictest standards of sustainability within the hospitality industry, it's certainly a hotel which knows exactly which direction it wants to go in. The hotel's resident restaurant Elsa is the first gourmet restaurant in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region to have obtained the “Organic” certification in the 3rd category by the certifying body Ecocert. It's also the first ever all-organic restaurant in Europe to be awarded a Michelin star. Executive chef Paolo Sari, otherwise known as "The Bio Michelin Chef", offers deletable locally-produced organic cuisine through a varied seasonal approach.

 

 

 

Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo offers the ultimate luxury spa experience

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Wellness Spas are one of the most important aspects of Monegasque tourism and there are a number of respected branded spas available including Le Spa Metropole by Givenchy, the Cinq Mondes Spa and the Green Globe-certified Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo.

Many of these are housed within hotels or resorts, however, they can usually be used by any visitor and are an essential way to relax, rejuvenate and pamper yourself.

 

For those wishing to experience the excitement of a night out in Monaco, the Monte-Carlo Casino has to be the place to visit. Built in 1893, this exquisite building houses the Opera Hall which is decorated entirely in red and gold. It is here that operatic performances, ballets and concerts take place, however, it is best known for its “gaming rooms” where the architecture may surprise (and delight!) more than the vast sums of money won and lost. Visitors who wish to soak up the atmosphere can do so as part of one of the daily morning tours. It is closed to tourists from midday so that gaming is not disturbed.

 

 

Les Ballets de Monte Carlo is known for its elegant and visually-stunning classical story ballets and is widely considered to be one of the finest dance companies in the world

IMAGE: Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority

Perhaps it could be said that luxury and sustainability are two diametrically opposite concepts, but time and again Monaco has proven otherwise. While many countries are only just starting to get to grips with the concepts and challenges of incorporating sustainability into contemporary society, Monaco has been embracing them for well over a century. The vision of Prince Albert I has trickled down through the generations, and given the current climate of environmental sensitivity; is stronger today than ever before.

 

That's why Monaco doesn't just work hard to preserve these important traditions, but it is forever looking to innovate and challenge the status quo of sustainability in all its various guises. The country understands that true sustainability is a journey and not a destination. Which is why any unerring sustainable tourist would be hard pressed to find a better choice than Monaco.

 

 

 

Something is always happening in Monaco. So get the most out of your next trip abroad by visiting the official website of the Monaco Tourist and Convention Authority:

 

www.visitmonaco.com

 

 

RELATED STORIES:

Monaco's Energy Transition

Dedicated to accelerating the energy transition across all sectors

Sustainable Food in Monaco

The Principality is an inspiration when it comes to healthy and sustainable food

© Sustain Europe 2021. All rights reserved. Powered by 100% Green Energy. Our pledge to the Environment.