Just before noon on a brilliant Riviera day, two columns of guards line up smartly in front of the Prince's Palace, gold braid glinting on their full dress uniforms, vivid blue helmets rivaling the azure sky.
A bell tolls as the guards put on what may be the world's most glamorous shift change, marching and presenting arms with practiced precision as a crowd of tourists standing just feet away Instagram the moment.
The best part? Watching this piece of royal pageantry won’t cost you a sou.
Sure, Monaco's known as the “millionaire’s playground,” and it’s easy to see why, from the multimillion-dollar penthouses and high-roller casinos to the fleets of Bentleys and Ferraris roaming the narrow streets. But you don’t have to break the bank at Monte Carlo to have fun in Monaco. Here are some things to do that will cost you as much as Monegasques (as the locals are called) pay in income tax. Which is to say, zero.Take a drive:
After you’re done with the guards, follow the signs to the Monaco Cathedral nearby. Here you'll find the tombs of past members of the ruling Grimaldi family including those of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (4 rue Colonel Bellando de Castro; free admission outside of religious services 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m., 6 p.m. in winter).A good bet:
Also free, taking a picture beside one of the posh cars to be found parked outside the ornate, Belle Epoque building. Check out the sculpture, “Sky Mirror,” facing the casino, a large, circular mirror that reflects the building and nearby Caf de Paris.
Maybe you’ll go home feeling as cunning as old Francesco. After all, you’ve sampled the gilded streets of Monaco without parting with a copper.