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Photographer's Note

at the top of Monaco, overlooking the port of Fontvieille is Monaco's excellent cactus garden, le Jardin Exotique, or Exotic Garden. You have to be interested in cactuses, or plants, to enjoy this garden, but to my mind this is one of the most interesting attractions in Monaco.

The gardens hold more than 10,000 plants and about 3,000 species of cactus and other succulents, arranged attractively in rocky beds, and navigated in a fairly steep set of paths that wind down the mountainside. There's no lift so remember you'll have to walk up again to get out. There are roughly 300,000 visitors a year to the garden. Once inside the gardens, however, you will mostly likely to be able to wander around on your own, only occasionally passing another group, as the area covered is so large.

The Mediterranean climate is very good for growing cactuses and succulents, which are sent from all parts of the world. The garden was started in the 1930s. There is a great variety on show and some specimens have grown very large indeed. Many of the cactuses flower in the winter and if you know anything about cactus flowers you'll know the blooms are very vivid.

There's a grotto, or natural cave form, at the bottom of the garden, although this often seems to be closed. The underground water here is connected to the same water source that supplies much of Monaco's drinking water

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