Monaco is a principality on the Mediterranean coast, close to the border between France and Italy. Its casino has been featured in many James Bond movies, and it is a vacation place for many rich and famous. It is also famous in not such a flashy way for its "Musée Océanographique" who used to be home to the late Jacques Cousteau, as well as its "Jardin Exotique".
"An independant state in the heart of Europe, the Principality of Monaco offers investors and businessmen an exceptional and secure lifestyle while simultaneously offering them all of the advantages of an attractive fiscal system. In 1997, Monaco was dressed up to the nines for the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Family Dynasty. " 1
Since I was visiting this area of the Cote d'Azur, this was a great opportunity to have another look at the very extensive collection of cacti and succulents from the "Jardin Exotique" and take some photos.
Although the Jardin Exotique itself was created in 1933, the collection of cacti and succulents was started in 1895, years before. The collection was then moved to the garden as it opened and now contains 7000 species of plants.
I convinced wife and kids that admiring cacti was not what they wanted, particularly since baby strollers were not allowed in the garden, that it would be a much better idea for them to go and visit the numerous museums of the old city, and leave me there with my camera.
The garden is build on about 3 acres (11,500 m2) of very steep terrain overlooking the rest of the principality. The southern exposure and the proximity of the sea, insure the very mild winter climate.
From my experience at midday in this day of early June going up and down the steep paths, bridges, and grottos to have a look at their great succulent collections, I can tell you that it was warm enough to grow anything I can think about. I guess that is why even with 300,000 visitors per year, this day there was little crowd to share the trails with me.
I was extremely happy to reach the bottom of the garden where a small outfit sells refreshments, icy sodas and bottled water
From everywhere in the garden, the view on the coast is phenomenal, with all Monaco exposed as well as parts of the French and Italian Rivieras, and traveling through the garden, your eyes are always jumping from the remarkable plants to the outstanding panorama.
Many plants are mature and of large size. They are artfully integrated in the rocks and ridges of what is the largest rock garden in Europe. The labeling of the plants is fair with about 50% of the plants having a readable label. I was able to get the name for most of the photos I took.
All in all, Monaco's Jardin Exotique is a must see, probably one of the most beautiful succulent garden in the world when you consider, the setting, the variety of plants as well as their maturity.
Open all year except November 19 and December 25. From April 15 to September 15, hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; from September 16 to April 14, hours are 9 a.m. to sunset (about 6 p.m.).
Adults, 40F; children 6-18, 19F (under 6 free).
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