With its pink royal palace, storied casino and retro James Bond vibe,
not to mention the scent of money in the air, Monaco occupies a place
in our imaginations as well as in its actual location on the French
Although arguably not as architecturally interesting as some of the
French hillside towns and villages nearby, there is something special
about the principality, a tiny, 202-hectare city-state.
During my first few visits over the years, I did what tourists
typically do: Watch the changing of the guard, get dressed up for visits
to the ornate casino and the opera, snap countless pictures of the
beach. But eventually, I began to dig beneath the surface of what Monaco
has to offer.
For one thing, Monaco is spa heaven, especially the posh Thermes
Marins Monte-Carlo, established by the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo and
Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. Picture soaking pools, luxurious spa
treatments, fine dining and views of the harbour and you get the idea.
Or try a Paoma massage at the Monte-Carlo Beach Spa, available seasonally and using organic products and treatments.
The storied Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco. Photo Credit: Adobe/s4svisuals
A winning Formula
For a change of pace, Formula 1 auto racing is huge in Monaco, and
next year's Grand Prix, marking its 80th running, will take place 25 to
29 May 2023.
Can't make it to the race? Prince Albert II, Monaco's reigning
monarch, has a car collection that includes a Ferrari F1 car among 100
other iconic vehicles. The Prince of Monaco's Car Collection, which
opened in 1993, now has a new location on the Port Hercule on the Grand
Prix circuit in the heart of the principality.
But despite the emphasis on automobiles, Monaco is adapting to the
new climate-conscious reality. There is a public bus system that
visitors and locals are encouraged to use to help offset carbon
emissions, for example, with the official target of reducing driver
numbers by 20% – the equivalent of 10,000 cars.
Monte Carlo even hosts an annual E-Rally in the fall, a 100% electric
and hydrogen version of the Monte Carlo Rally, complete with charging
Monaco is also known for its protected marine habitat, and its
Oceanographic Museum is renowned. For the next two years, the museum
will host the "Polar Mission Exhibition" tracing more than a century of
life in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The exhibition enables visitors to "meet" polar explorers and learn
about the people and species who live in the regions. A highlight of the
visit, the Immersion Room, showcases the beauty and fragility of the
Royal-watchers will be happy to know that portions of the Prince's
Palace of Monaco is open to the public from April to October and offer a
glimpse of the principality's history. Highlights include the Royal
Courtyard, Hercule Gallery, Mirror Gallery, the York Room, the Louis XV
Bedchamber and the Throne Room.
Meanwhile, culture buffs can take in "Monaco on Stage: 100 years of
Concerts in Monaco" at the Salle d'Exposition Quai Antoine 1er through
31 December. Or bring your appetite to next year's Festival des Etoiles,
an annual showcase of Michelin-starred chefs that takes place in the
Where to eat
New restaurants include Giacomo, opened on Larvotto beach by Tigrane
Seydoux, who already has 17 international restaurants under his belt; La
Mome, on the roof of the Hotel Port Palace; the Niwaki at the Palais de
la Plage in the Larvotto district; and Mozzafiato, a casual dining spot
in La Condamine.
Also new is Maison Fonfon at the Port of Fontvieille, whose southern
Mediterranean cuisine is rivalled by the decor, created by Cedric Capron
and Franck Lebraly, a renowned artist who drew inspiration from cubist
and surrealist motifs to create his sketches.
Elsa, the Michelin-starred, 100% organic and wild-caught fish
restaurant at Monte Carlo Beach, is switching things up with the
addition of chef Melanie Serre, who has her own restaurant in Paris and
who will focus on local cuisine and products.
Source: Travel Weekly