Monaco is arguably the world capital of glamour, attracting the world’s most glitzy, wealthy jetset. The streets of Monte-Carlo aren’t quite paved in gold but it’s a place not to be missed from any itinerary for those looking to enjoy the high life. From viewing the Formula 1 Grand Prix from your yacht berthed trackside on a Monaco GP yacht charter in May, to enjoying dinner on the terrace of the Hotel Hermitage whilst being wowed by the spectacular Monaco International Fireworks Competition running throughout the summer. Or even take a front row dinner table with the Prince at the Global Championship Tour Showjumping competition in the port at the end of June. Enjoy a night at the Monte-Carlo opera, try your luck in the private rooms of the Monte-Carlo Casino or hit the dance floor at Jimmy’z, Monte-Carlo has the best of the best for every fun-loving monied playboy and playgirl!
The heart of the action takes place in Monte-Carlo’s opulent Place du Casino (Casino Square) and the surrounding “Carré d’Or”, the golden square area that surrounds the famous square. The world’s most prestigious casino, “Casino de Monte-Carlo” takes centre stage and has to be the largest supercar magnet on the planet! The super-rich, once they’ve been for a spin around the F1 GP circuit pull up in their Ferrari Enzos and Bugatti Veyrons and slip inside the private rooms to enjoy poker games with stakes that would make mere millionaires weep! The Monte-Carlo Casino is open to all and welcomes everyone whether they have ten euro or ten million euro in their pockets, except the native Monegasques who are not permitted to gamble here – yes that’s right, even Prince Albert is not allowed to throw dice on the hallowed tables of Monte-Carlo!
The Monte-Carlo Casino was at the heart of a plan to rejuvenate this once very poor country and in order to make it profitable for its citizens, it became law that only foreigners were allowed to gamble inside. First inaugurated in 1863, that year saw the rapid building of hotels in Monte-Carlo and a road to bring supplies and then guests up to this plateau above the sea, once a wild place covered in olive trees and scrub. Even as early as the erection of the first buildings, the area has been known as the Golden Square as the people involved and the locals saw the potential of what was to become an international icon. The Monte-Carlo Casino went bust in the same year it opened and then re-opened again within the same year and has continued its complicated history throughout its life. The owners, the SBM (Société des Bains de Mer) call it a jigsaw with parts being added, removed and so on by everyone that has had any involvement with this very special place during its existence. Thankfully today the SBM ensure the history and magical art which adorns the huge rooms of the interior are maintained for us and future generations and it is many years since anyone “broke the bank at Monte-Carlo”!
The Casino de Monte-Carlo is also home to the Monte-Carlo Opera House, which overlooks the sea and the gardens which look truly stunning from the water. The Opera House was added in 1878 and amazingly took only 8 months to complete. Known as the Salle Garnier after Charles Garnier the famous architect who designed and presided over construction. This splendid room can seat 525 spectators, and after a 2-year renovation, it re-opened on 19th November 2005 to coincide with the Fête National de Monaco celebrations. The artwork has been carefully restored along with the magnificent and enormous chandelier, a task left to the expert hands of the head architect of France’s Historical Monuments, Alain-Charles Perrot. The Monte-Carlo Opera House gardens and terraces are often the venues of many glamorous parties including the wedding reception of Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene.
The legendary Café de Paris in Monte-Carlo provides a world-famous rendezvous for glamorous diners meeting for an aperitif before dinner but is accessible to all and its enormous terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee or just to watch the supercars cruise by and pull up to the Monte-Carlo Casino on a summers evening. In true Parisian style, this supremely elegant café maintains a very special ambience, perfect for setting the mood before a wonderful evening or to stretch out a fabulous night on the way home. It’s immaculate, attentive waiters whizz around ensuring everything runs like clockwork, bringing a little bit of Parisian magic to the magnificent terrace and dining room inside. Open from 8am – 2am and in the summer 24 hours, this is a wonderful place to come any time of day or night for drinks or food, which is carefully prepared by wonderful chef Jacque Lambert. The beautiful Belle Epoque building still has its original façade but this can only be seen once inside the Bar des Jeux of the Casino du Café de Paris. Here guests are entertained with the latest American gaming machines and table games. Funky and with a modern décor, the Bar des Jeux attracts a younger crowd and has a buzzing atmosphere late into the night.
On the opposite side of Casino Square stands the majestic Hotel de Paris. Epitomising elegance and opulence at the highest level, this is a world-famous hotel without rivals and the flagship of the Société des Bains de Mer group. Its imposing, intricate façade is recognised the world over and a visit here is unforgettable. Whether staying in the Winston Churchill suite or having coffee in the American Bar, guests can’t help but be impressed upon entering the awe-inspiring lobby with its marble columns, ornate arches and enormous crystal chandeliers. Boasting three restaurants including the three Michelin starred Louis XV by Alain Ducasse, Le Grill and the Côté Jardin, eating at the Hotel de Paris is a true joy with food prepared to the very highest standards and with service to match. For drinks, head to the American Bar, unchanged for many years, photos of Sinatra and co. still adorn the walls, the magic of this bygone era is still very much alive and sitting around the piano, one can almost still feel the presence of these legends living life to the full! A new chapter of the Place du Casino “jigsaw” will soon be unveiled as the Hotel de Paris embarks on a four-year restoration project in order to maintain its incredibly high standards. In the words of its creator François Blanc, this new era will help maintain “a hotel that transcends anything so far created”.
To match the best fun in the world there is an abundant choice of excellent restaurants in Monte-Carlo. Enjoy diner prepared by Alain Ducasse in the Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris on one night and the very best Japanese food from Nobu at the Fairmont Hotel the next. Not forgetting the fabulous restaurants at the other Monaco hotels, the elegant Vistamar at the Hermitage, perfect for Monaco guests wanting culinary perfection but away from the madding crowd! The renowned and perhaps the best restaurant in Monte-Carlo, Joël Robuchon at the Metropole has two stars and needs no introduction! The one-starred Elsa at the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel is a must for a casual but refined lunch before heading over to La Vigie for dinner, also at the Monte-Carlo Beach with the same Chef Paolo Sari, perched right on the edge of the peninsular between the sea and the sky, perfect for a romantic evening. Heading back west another Michelin starred restaurant awaits, the Blue Bay at the Monte-Carlo Bay is fresh and funky and offers wonderfully innovative ideas from Chef Marcel Ravin, drawing on his travels and origins in the Caribbean. Move next door and at the base of the Rocabella Residence is an Asian delight, The Maya Bay offers a Japanese restaurant to the right and authentic Thai food to the left, guests can choose from both menus if you can’t quite make up your mind! With more first-class establishments opening regularly such as Song Qi on Avenue Princess Grace, Monte-Carlo is becoming a miniature London with its choice of fine restaurants offering global cuisine, although perhaps ever so slightly heavier on the handbag – Hermés of course!
For live entertainment, book tickets in advance to see one of the many superstar artists that play the Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Festival throughout the summer at the Monte-Carlo Sporting. Head to La Trattoria by Ducasse at the Sporting for an early dinner and afterwards, to the Blue Gin bar of the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel to enjoy cocktails on the terrace whilst the house DJ gets you in the mood for a late night at either the iconic club Jimmy’z or to Twiga on the water’s edge under the Fairmont for a fabulous cabaret!
Whether you are a player or a spectator, head to Monte-Carlo and enjoy the party of a lifetime in all its glitzy, glamorous glory!
This article was written by Rachel Coles, charter broker at Bespoke Yacht Charter.
To discuss a Monaco yacht charters, please contact Rachel Coles at Bespoke Yacht Charter: