Port Hercule, Monaco map

Monaco and Port Hercule seen from above

A panorama of just about all of Monaco including Port Hercule, taken from La Turbie. Photo by Tobias Alt.

Port du Monaco aka Port Hercule

Two sides of Port Hercule are lined with a variety of bars, cafés, and restaurants – some of which are inexpensive, but beware ‘mistakes’ in the bill! – which would offer excellent views over the pricey waters of the Principality but for the fact that Monaco sees many events and exhibitions which inevitably result in massive tents and marquees being erected all along the quayside, so you end up with a busy road on one side (the start of the Condamine district) and a wall of shining white on the other.

Monaco, Port Hercule

Port Hercule, aka Port du Monaco, with Monaco-Ville, aka The Rock, in the background.

This shot is taken from approximately above the famous Monaco Grand Prix race tunnel port exit. To the right is an interesting new construction; it’s a fair size, 4/5 storey job built to look exactly like a small cruise ship or a large private yacht, complete with decks, external stairways and masts.

On the opposite side of the port is Monaco-Ville, aka the Rock, home of the Grimaldi family who captured it – by stealth – from the Genovese in 1297. Though they didn’t hold it for very long. . .

Port Hercule views

Monaco, Port Hercule, looking to Monte Carlo

From below The Rock looking towards Monte-Carlo.

On this occasion the event was Classic Boats which meant not only multi-masted yacht racing but also exhibitions and sales of classic boats such as the Riva speedboats in the photo, so loved by the Top Gear team.
Having seen the polished wood and heard the tuned and unsilenced V8 engine of that Riva driving away, I can attest to the attraction!

Huge private yachts in Port Hercule, Monaco

That is definitely the biggest private yacht I’ve ever been close to, even compared to the port at Cannes!

This port has been occupied for thousands of years by powerful Mediterranean maritime nations, notably the Phoenicians and Romans in early times, and it was the latter who called the port Portus Herculis Monoeci. The port, along with The Rock that controlled it, were captured by François Grimaldi in 1297.

Monaco Map

Getting to Monaco

By Car

Fast and simple, the journey from Nice and its airport takes little more than half an hour on the A8 autoroute.

Time required from other Côte d’Azur destinations is not much greater, mainly depending on the time it takes to reach the A8 (for example, getting to the A8 from Cannes beach at the wrong time of day (4. 30pm-6. 30pm) could take longer than the drive to Monaco).

Another enjoyable option would be to take one of the two other corniches running from Monaco to Nice, Moyenne or Basse.

The Moyenne Corniche is a driver’s road that is brilliant in an open car as it’s beautiful and half way up the mountainside, quite fast but curving, with rock cliffs straight up on one side and straight down on the other and few stoppages. Passengers who get travel sick beware!

The Basse Corniche runs low down near the sea and is narrow and winding but interesting, but slow as it goes through many small towns with redolent names, such as Villefranche and St Jean Cap Ferrat.

The start of the Basse Corniche is easy to find as it runs up the hill north from the narrow part of the port (Blvd. Carnot), basically on the same road as Promenade des Anglais with a wiggle around the port.

The A8 is easy too as it’s well signposted.
Roads are not signposted as Moyenne Corniche etc, just town names (same possibly for Sat Navs, though I see that Google maps list the Corniches if you search specifically for them), so try heading for the town of Eze as that’s exclusively on the Moyenne Corniche or Beaulieu for the Basse Corniche.

See our Nice map and look for the start of all three corniches!

By Train

If there’s a station near you and you are a patient type then taking a SNCF train to Monaco would be very relaxing and offering panoramic views. It runs beside the sea so sit on the right side going from Nice-Monaco for sea views. The other side will be mainly cliff. SNCF trains to Monaco are frequent.