Published on June 20, 2023Updated on June 29, 2023
Between the world-famous Rock, or “Rocher”, in Monaco-Ville, and Monte-Carlo, lies the Condamine district. Curled up behind Port Hercules, the Condamine is well-known to Monaco’s residents but relatively undiscovered by visitors. And yet, thanks to its proximity to the port, it is the shopping district par excellence. Today, Inspiration by Monte-Carlo guides you through the district’s picturesque streets and alleys, and in the very best of company: Fabrice Notari, an architect who was born in Monaco, shows us what to look out for to make sure we don’t miss any hidden details.
Fabrice Notari was born and grew up in Monaco. After studying architecture and spending several years working in Switzerland, he returned to Monaco and the family architecture firm, where he worked on major projects like the Grimaldi Forum and the renovation of the Casino de Monte-Carlo, to name a few. He is now also a member of Monaco’s National Council, President of the Commission for External Relations.
For Fabrice Notari, the Place d’Armes, with its market, café terraces and newspaper stands, is “the most typical place in Monaco”. This square has forever been a place to shop. In the past, with Monaco-Ville too small to welcome stallholders and their customers, little by little the Place d’Armes became the place to buy and sell. Its architectural style, with its arcades and almost uniform coloured facade, is typical of the Côte d’Azur. If you have already been to Nice, for example, it’s sure to be familiar!
After buying some fresh produce at the covered market, stop to drink a ristretto on one of the market square’s small terraces. At Barbiss, if you want to watch the comings and goings of curious onlookers and market life, or Monaco Bar, under the arcades, if you want to rub shoulders with the locals!
Next stop is Rue de Millo, just next to the Place d’Armes. Here, at the top of the street, is a building you could easily walk by without a second glance. Fortunately, Fabrice Notari stops us as it is “one of the rare 1930s buildings still standing in Monaco”. Notice its ribbon windows, vertical above the front door. The only building in the same style was the Sporting d’Hiver on the Place du Casino, which has since been demolished.
On Rue de Millo, numerous facades are typical of the Condamine’s style, with tall windows, cast iron balconies and very little decoration, a style dating back to the 1700s. Next stop is where Rue Terrazzani and Rue des Açores meet. Here, look up and see where property owners of the past have decided to add their own poetic touch to the local style, with four terracotta motifs, one on each side of the building, representing the four seasons. Stunning!
Back at the bottom of Rue de Millo, admire the villa belonging to the famous De Millo family, the oldest in the Condamine.
From the bottom of the street, turn round and admire the outstanding view… A line of traditional buildings, with the mountains standing over them in the background.
It is impossible to visit the Condamine without taking a stroll around Port Hercules… Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the view looking up at Monaco-Ville, the Prince’s Palace, Monte-Carlo and the surrounding mountains. In terms of architecture, one imposing building on Boulevard Albert-Ier caught the attention of our guide: the Palais Heracles, a piece of architecture that is “a perfect example of 1950s style” and can be considered “Monaco’s first skyscraper”. And a building that is an amazing achievement, says Fabrice Notari, given the seismic risks faced by the principality. Here, opposite Port Hercules, there is no shortage of great places to have lunch, whether you want something exotic or more traditional, a chic restaurant or just a quick snack.
When the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix takes place, there is no shortage of exceptional locations from which to watch the racing cars speed by, at our hotels or on the terraces of our restaurants. But when it comes to nightlife, one of them is truly unique: La Rascasse bar, where you can dance… on the racing track! Thrills guaranteed.
With its lively streets and squares, the Condamine district is the real Monaco, home to local families, perfect for walking, tasting local specialities like barbajuans and pissaladière, and window shopping. Enjoy your walk!