The good folks over at Monte-Carlo SBM invited me and Natalie to visit so we could help promote their 150th anniversary. Back in 1863, they were the company that brought gambling to Monaco. It was formed by François Blanc and he called it Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers à Monaco. But since that name is way too long to roll off the tongue, even for the French, they changed the company name to Monte-Carlo SBM. Today, they not only run the casino but Hôtel de Paris, Café de Paris, Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, Monte-Carlo Country Club, Golf Club, Monte-Carlo Beach, Hôtel Hermitage, Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, Jimmy’z and the Buddha-Bar Monte-Carlo.
Our trip began by flying Air France from Toronto to Paris to Nice in economy (here’s my story). When we landed, we walked about 50 yards from baggage claim to Heli Air Monaco where we checked into our flight. We went through their security check, hung out in their small waiting room and then got shuttled out to the helicopter pad, adjacent to the runway with three other passengers.
TIP: If you want the good seats (front or back windows) either make a b-line to the helicopter when they wave you on so you can be first or be the last one to board. We did the opposite so we got sandwiched in the middle in the back of the four-seater helicopter. There were two seats up front but the captain just allowed one … a pretty girl. Hmmm …
The ride to Monaco was smooth and quick, just seven minutes. But don’t take it to save time, unless you’re trying to avoid rush hour or unless you’re traveling during the popular summer months because when we landed, we had to wait over 20 minutes for one of their drivers for the free shuttle ride into town. In the end, it wasn’t really any quicker than driving from Nice to Monte Carlo. But if decide to take the helicopter transfer, do it for the experience and the spectacular aerial views of Nice and Monaco. Even on a cloudy day, it’s beautiful.
Heli Air Monaco operates the shuttle service every 15 minutes between 8:30am and 8:15pm. They have 48 flights a day and according to their website, they’ve been doing for 32 years and have transported 1,650,000 passengers safely.
Good To Know: On the way back to the Nice airport, Natalie and I took a van set up by the hotel and it took only 25 minutes. We left at 7:30am on a Thursday morning.
Monaco-Nice 120EUR ($157)
Nice-Monaco 130EUR ($170)
Return trip 230EUR ($301)
Monaco-Nice 100EUR ($130)
Nice-Monaco 100EUR ($130)
Return trip 200EUR ($260)
Monaco-Nice 60EUR ($84)
Nice-Monaco 85EUR ($111)
Return trip 140EUR ($185)
BABIES (0-2 years):
Hi Johnny! I’m a SoCal girl who lived in France and Monaco for a while. (Don’t ask me why I moved back to the States; I just might cry about it.) Flying Heli-Air from NCE into Monaco is my favorite way to go. I’ve traveled to and from the airport by car, bus, and train; nothing beats the helicopter. Luckily, I’ve never had a major delay – no more than a few minutes – for the helicopter from NCE or for the shuttle in MC. I’ve also been pretty lucky because I’ve even had the delight of only sharing the helicopter with the pilot. Here’s a tip for you and other travelers to MC: If you join the Club Diamont Rouge via the Monaco Tourism Bureau in NY, you can score a free one-way helicopter ride from the airport plus, you get lots of great deals (many are FREE) for local attractions. Hope this helps!