The ‘overtourism’ that has gripped France this summer is prompting a number of local authorities to cap the number of people visiting the most popular attractions.
Near Marseille, particularly attractive beaches are accessible only by pre-booking. Otherwise it would be standing room only. In Normandy, the Étretat cliffs may have to be closed on some weekends as tourist numbers overwhelm the site. This year two women fell to their deaths while taking selfies.
Parisian hotspots have become even hotter during the heatwave but tourists have not been deterred from swarming around the usual venues.
Among the reasons for the surge in tourist numbers are the ending of coronavirus travel restrictions, bucket-list tourism, and Instagram.
It’s time Monaco did the same as the most popular French attractions and limited numbers. Otherwise daily life will become unbearable for the locals and also unfulfilling for the tourists themselves due to the weight of bodies, as illustrated by the monstrous snaking lines to access the Cafe de Paris in order to tick another place off the list.
A less cynical person than myself might imagine that Monaco is already sufficiently exclusive. A night or two in the Hotel de Paris would put me off, only because it’s not cheap by any standards, and getting to Monaco by any means other than helicopter is pretty close to hell on earth – clogged roads and standing room only on the trains.
Last week I couldn’t get into the American Bar because I wasn’t an overnight guest. Silly me for assuming I could just walk in to meet my pal.
The irony is that just a few metres away from the “have to tick it off the list” and otherwise unbearably overcrowd choke points, there’s plenty of room. My friend and I sauntered down ave des Spelugues and made ourselves very comfortable at the Pacific. Lots of empty tables, no queuing and great service.
Nor is it enough of a deterrent to tourists even with the nightmare of air travel and the routine humiliation of airport security.
Earlier this week my son flew from UK to Nice. Ahead of him in security was a woman who had to step into one of those awful plastic cubicles, put her arms in the air and be X-rayed.
The official told her that her feet were not far enough apart, which seemed not to be the case at all.
“But I can’t,” said the lady. “Yesterday I had an operation.”
“Then why are you flying today?” The man without manners asked.
Meanwhile, back in Monaco, how long will it take for SBM to take seriously the problem of overtourism? For everyone’s sake. I am not holding my breath.
Any views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the publishers. Monte-Carlo Diary is published in the interests of editorial diversity.