Few places on Earth can rival the small principality of Monaco when it comes to luxury and exclusivity. Nestled between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as both the French and Italian Rivieras, and ruled by Prince Albert II, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world following Vatican City. In total, Monaco spans just three miles and would fit easily within Manhattan’s Central Park. Despite this, there are a total of four well-defined districts within its borders.
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The first of these areas is Monaco-Ville, home to the city on the Rock where Monaco originated, the Cathedral, the Prince’s Palace and the world famous Oceanographic Museum. Further towards the seafront you will find the Condamine, also known as the port quarter, and Fontvieille, a waterfront area, featuring a small water park. Finally, there is Monte-Carlo: a small yet mighty city known around the world for its extravagance. The casino, the shops, the gardens and the fanciest café you’ll ever visit in your life are all within a few yards of each other in this bountiful haven.
And you don’t need to be Monegasque to truly experience everything Monte-Carlo has to offer, all you need is a passport and some euros – and our great tips on what to pack this summer.
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Despite Monte-Carlo’s tiny size, there are twenty-three magnificent hotels to choose from. If you’re looking for true luxury, Hotel Metropole is the place to be. Situated at the heart of Monte-Carlo, Hotel Metropole is practically next door to Casino de Monte-Carlo and boasts its own heated swimming pool and three restaurants, two of which have Michelin stars – the Joël Robuchon and Yoshi. The hotel itself was partly designed by Karl Lagerfeld and has hosted some of the most famous celebrities in history. A night at Hotel Metropole this summer will set you back around €800.
If you’re looking for something a little less costly but still undeniably extravagant, then the Fairmont Monte-Carlo could well be your best bet. For as little as €350 a night, you’ll have access to a rooftop terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the Casino de Monte-Carlo, a heated pool, the Willow Stream Spa, a fitness centre, the Nobu restaurant and a complimentary shuttle service.
Alternatively, there are plenty of people letting their apartments on sites such as Airbnb. Rooms are currently going for as little as €50, though prices can go up to €5,850, so you’d be well advised to book early!
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There are a total of five casinos in Monaco, though the Casino de Monte-Carlo is by far the most famous. So why should you visit this casino as opposed to one of the many found on the Las Vegas strip, for instance? Well, although the ornate building that is Casino de Monte-Carlo has been featured in various James Bond films, cameras are strictly forbidden and so, unless you visit in person, you will never get to see everything it has to offer.
Founded by François Blanc, the Belle Epoque-inspired building was built over three years in the 19th century. Throughout its legendary halls, the Casino de Monte-Carlo offers European Roulette, Trente et Quarante, Black Jack, English Roulette and Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker, as well as various slots in the Salle Renaissance and the Salle Europe. Each year, the casino hosts some of the most prestigious poker tournaments on Earth, including the European Poker Tour where millions of euros have been wagered and won. In fact, four of the ten largest sums scooped in an EPT tournament have been pocketed in Casino de Monte-Carlo, including the leading prize amount of $3,196,354 won by Canadian player Glen Chorny.
To gain entry into the hallowed halls of Casino de Monte-Carlo, you must first ensure you are dressed appropriately: that means no shorts, sports shoes or flip-flops. Feel free to check out our piece on fantastic loafers for some appropriately fancy holiday footwear! Once you arrive, remember that admission costs €10 per person, as well as an extra €10 if you wish to enter private rooms.
Of all the cafés in Monaco, Café de Paris is our top recommendation by far. Situated on the left of the Casino de Monte-Carlo, Café de Paris is open to anyone who wishes to relax in extravagance. The décor resembles the casino’s Belle Epoque-style, which is reminiscent of Parisian bistros: bright and inviting. Whether you wish to go for breakfast, lunch, dinner or simply a coffee, Café de Paris is the ultimate Monegasque place to be. If you’re lucky, you may see a wedding, gala, private reception or party taking place. You may even catch a glimpse of Prince Albert II or one of the princesses!
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Monte-Carlo is home to two of the seven exotic gardens accessible in Monaco. Across from the Casino de Monte-Carlo are the appropriately named Casino Gardens and Terraces. Mostly made up of French-inspired lawns and fountains, these gardens also include the “Little Africa” exotic plant section at the top and the “Hexa Grace” designed by Vasarely at the bottom, near the sea.
Within walking distance of the casino on Avenue Princesse-Grace you will find the astonishing Japanese Garden. This 7,000-square-metre park features a mountain, a hill, a waterfall, a beach and a brook – all created around the concept of Zen. Both gardens are free to enter.
Need To Know
Now before you go googling the best flights to Nice, why not check out the best apps to use whilst travelling to ensure you have all your bases covered? And here’s some additional useful information:
The British Consulate in Marseilles
24 Avenue du Prado, Marseilles.
Open Mon, Wed, Fri, 9am-12.30pm
(00 33 491 157210),
British Embassy, Paris
00 33 144 513100
Monaco Tourist Office
2 Boulevard des Moulins.
00 377 92 16 61 16
Monaco Emergency services: Dial 112.