Fishing for knowledge in Monaco's best museum.
'Oceanographic' means what it says. This is a museum of the seas. And it's a good one, reflecting the ruling Grimaldi family's long-running interest first in maritime exploration and discovery, more lately in conservation.
The monumental pile (it looks more noble than the Princely Palace) rises directly from the rock on the edge of the Old Town. Its soaring neo-classical aspect underlines a rather Victorian mission to educate. But it's also fun, and certainly Monaco's best museum by a street - though competition is not intense.
Downstairs there's a huge and engrossing aquarium, the tanks accompanied by more-than-usually interesting and informative texts in English. The shark lagoon is especially engrossing.
Up the terribly grand staircase, it's more old-fashioned, but in a good way. Cases display the collections - some of them notably bizarre - made by Prince Albert I in the early 20th-century. Centre-piece is a 90-foot whale skeleton which, if it rose from the dead, could swallow the principality whole.
Take your time over all this and you can easily make the visit worth the rather high entrance fee. And look out for temporary exhibitions which you wouldn't necessarily expect in what seems a slightly staid institution. Over summer 2010, the museum hosted a Damien Hirst show - including his half-sheep in formaldehyde.