Monaco is best-known for those shops where they put one item in the window – a necklace, a shoe or a frock – and neglect to add the price-tag. If you have to ask, you’re out of your league.
Such outlets gather by the Casino, in what’s known as the Cercle-d’Or (Golden Circle). So much the better. They add to the place’s pizzaz even (especially) for those who hardly dare even window-shop.
But there’s also more reasonable shopping – including a lively little market, a couple of regular supermarkets and a few speciality shops. See my advice on some of the key places to shop below:
(Place du Casino district)
Difficult to deny that seeing signs like Dior, Yves St Laurent, Gucci or Prada gives one more of a buzz than wandering past Wal-Mart. If you want to contemplate or – who knows? – even buy the world’s most expensive couture and jewellery, make for Avenue de Monte Carlo, Avenue des Beaux-Arts or the Allées Lumières centre.
Galérie du Métropole
(Ave des Spélugues)
Just down from the Casino Square, this is the sort of luxury, top-end arcade where shopping comes on as a cultivated leisure activity. Among recent additions to the 80 or so shops is an outlet for Barbara Bui, the Franco-Vietnamese couturière at the top of the fashion tree. Young German designer Phlipp Plein also opened in the arcade last year.
Fontvieille Commercial Centre
This is where you go for normal shopping. There's a proper Carrefour hypermarket, just like in France, and other shops that people actually need. Also McDonalds and other snack eateries which will furnish you with a cheap lunch - taken outside on the terrace, if the weather's fit. (There’s another supermarket right on the port, which will be handier if you’re based in the Monte-Carlo district.)
Traditional and lively Provençal market, open every morning. Improvement works are due any time now, but shouldn’t disrupt what is a key centre of Monégasque social life. If you don’t want to shop, take a seat at one of the cafés in the square and watch normal life pass by.
Boutique de la Manufacture de Monaco
(17 Avenue des Spélugues)
Your chance to get hold of porcelain and tableware from the official suppliers to Monaco’s Royal Family.
Chocolaterie de Monaco
(Place de la Visitation)
Up in the old town, this chocolate shop has been going for 90 years – so they’ve got the basics sorted. Probably Monaco’s best.
Boutique du Rocher
(1 Avenue de la Madone)
A royal-class charity shop, opened by Princess Grace in 1960. Proceeds from arts, crafts and toys go to good works.