How to get there
· Option 1: Fly to Nice and Helicopter to Monaco
Average price: $1,200 for the Delta roundtrip, plus 120 Euro each way on HeliAir
Only Delta offers nonstop flights from the United States to Nice. It's a seasonal service on a 767-400 from New York-JFK, beginning again on March 31, 2014. From Nice's Côte d'Azur International Airport, HeliAir Monaco offers a chopper transfer directly to the heliport in Monaco-Fontvieille, which is a quick taxi from the center of Monte-Carlo. It begins from 120 Euro, and guarantees a picturesque 7-minute flight. If you're a family or group of 5, you may charter the entire helicopter from 705 Euros. Helicopters run every 30 minutes, so it's actually quite a popular option for travelers to Monaco, not to mention the convenience. If you want to go further, HeliAir also offers flights from Monaco to places like Lausanne, Switzerland and Olbia, Sardinia.
· Option 2: Fly to Paris (or connect in Paris on to Nice) and trains to Monaco
Average price: $1,100 for Air France plus about 80 Euros for the TGV each way and 10 Euro each way for the SNCF trains into Monaco.
Our first visit to Monaco happened in this way, with some days in Paris before catching the TGV high-speed train to Nice. From Nice, it's all the regional SNCF service (and under 5 Euro each way) between Nice and Monaco-Monte Carlo station.The 3-hour TGV means Monaco is a plausible weekend side trip if you've enough days planned for Paris, or France in general.
· Option 3: Fly to Milan and trains to Monaco
Average price: $1,200 for flights into Milan (unless you catch a crazy deal, of which there are many), 40 Euros each way for Trenitalia trains from Milan to Ventimiglia, and about 7 Euro for the SNCF train from Ventimiglia to Monaco.
This was our choice most recently. Be prepared for four hours on trains each way, between Milan and Monaco. First you must get to Milano Centrale, and catch the train to Ventimiglia. This is the border city for Italy and France, and once in Ventimiglia (Vintimille in French), you'll buy tickets for the SNCF French trains, which will carry you over the border, pat the town of Menton, and into Monaco-Monte Carlo.
· Option 4: Fly anywhere in Europe with connecting service to Nice or Marseille, then train to Monaco.
Average price: $varies, depending on airline and season. Budget around 40 Euros each way for taxi fare from the airport to the main train station of Nice or Marseille, then another 10-20 Euros each way for the SNCF trains into Monaco.
This offers the most flexibility, since Nice Airport has a variety of daily flights to a variety of other European destinations. These numbers shoot up in the high season of summer, of course, so you're really only a quick flight away from Monaco in most major cities.
The station at Ventimiglia, on the Italian-French border
[Photos: MsRebecca/Jaunted & Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]