While living in Nice, we’ve taken the scenic 45 minute bus ride to Monaco multiple times. But experiencing Christmas in Monaco is an entirely new adventure. The Monaco Christmas Market or Le Village de Noël de Monaco is huge. Much bigger than I would have expected. It is a tiny country, after all.
Each year the Monaco Christmas Market depicts a new theme. This years Russian theme, un Noël Russe, is truly magical. Huge Christmas trees are surrounded by figures in traditional Russian garb, two large Russian palaces grace the market entrances and life-size Matryoshka nesting dolls adorn the area as picture perfect props.
My kids were fascinated by the two scenes representing the traditional tales of “The Firebird” and “Peter and the Wolf.” The wolf was bigger than me!
My favorite time to visit is after dark. Christmas lights cover the port and a brightly lit Ferris Wheel at one end helps to illuminate the market below, providing visitors with a great view. A carousel type ride is at the opposite end for kids to enjoy.
The ice skating rink is conveniently located near all the food and beverage stands. The kids can skate while the adults drink hot wine and eat traditional Savoie cuisine. We loved La Tartiflette, which is mashed potatoes and bacon topped with thick slabs of melted cheese – YUM!
At specific days and times, the ice skating rink is converted into an ice kart course. The kart electrique sur glace is a unique event where you can “drive” sliding go kart type cars around a track. We didn’t try it even though K begged for a chance. It was fun just watching the kids swoosh these karts around the rink.
Don’t miss the chance to make your pocketbooks a little lighter by shopping at the 25 chalets in the Christmas Market. Find traditional French decorations, jewelry and gifts. You won’t go hungry with the many stalls selling churros, crepes, hot chocolate, fries, chestnuts, and the Savoie cuisine. Oh yes, it’s delicious! High in the French Alps, you need hearty dishes to help stave off the cold winter weather!
There are tables throughout the village that you can sit at while enjoying a treat or meal. Just don’t be like me and walk around eating. It’s very American 😉 The Europeans stop and savor their food. We visited the market with French friends. After I finally got my order, they insisted I sit and eat. I insisted on walking and eating as everyone else had already finished. I won the debate, but quickly realized I was the ONLY one walking with food in my hands. I just ignored the countless stares and kept up my walking, talking and shopping as any good American would 🙂
Check the schedule for live events happing throughout the month. The village will feature live music, ice shows, puppeteers, a treasure hunt, photos with Père Noël aka Santa Claus and more. Little ones will enjoy the free workshops in the afternoon on Wednesdays and weekends.
The price for the Ferris Wheel is extremely reasonable. Just 5€ for adults and 4€ for kids 10 and under. The price to ice skate, including skate rental, is 6.40€ and kids under 5 are free.
The 2015 Monaco Christmas Village was from December 4, 2015 – January 3, 2016. The village opened at 11am and closed at 9pm Sunday – Thursday and 10pm Friday and Saturday. Hopefully this timeline can help you plan your Monaco Christmas visit for this year (2016).
While visiting the market, save time to explore the rest of Monaco. Head up the mountain to Monaco Ville where the Prince’s Palace is located. Walk the streets and get a birds eye view of the port and city below.
Next, walk around the other side of the port to the Monte-Carlo Casino. The kids were exhausted and we almost didn’t make the 20 minute trek. I’m so glad we did! Although we didn’t go in the casinos, the Christmas decorations were spectacular! We even snapped a few cute family pics while there.
The 16th edition of the Monaco Christmas Village was awesome, and we fell in love with the decorations throughout the city! We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to see what theme they come up with for 2016.
Have you been to Monaco in December? I highly recommend adding the Monte Carlo Christmas Market to your list for next year. Don’t miss experiencing Christmas in Monaco as you explore Europe in the winter.