It may account for just 0.75 sq miles of the Cote d’Azur and be half the size of New York’s Central Park, but the principality of Monaco still packs a punch. Though bordered on three sides by France, this tiny cosmopolitan country has no need to feel inferior. It boasts a glittering Mediterranean coastline and sun-drenched climate; it’s a major banking centre that attracts superyachts to its harbour and high rollers to its casino, and every May it plays host to the one of the most seductive sporting events in the world, the Formula One Grand Prix.
Image courtesy of Alexander Tihonov
Given its size, it won’t take long to get acquainted with Monaco’s cultural charms. Highlights include the Palais Princier de Monaco, the lavish residence of the current Prince of Monaco that has been home to the Grimaldi royal family since their reign began in 1297. Nearby, the Cathédrale de Monaco is the resting place of the Palace’s former chatelaine, the magnetic film star Grace Kelly, and her husband Prince Rainier. And not to be missed is the legendary Casino de Monte Carlo, a gilt and marble architectural extravaganza that lures serious gamblers to its Salons Privés.Image courtesy of Matej Kastelic
But over four days in May (this year it’s 26th – 29th May) the Monaco Grand Prix dominates the city and kick-starts the summer calendar of the social elite. Hotel rooms on the race weekend disappear faster than a Ferrari, and what rooms remain will come at a premium. The city streets become the two-mile track for one of the most challenging and thrilling races in Formula One. It’s the shortest lap distance of all races in the competition and requires 78 laps – more than any other F1 circuit. Since the first run in 1929, vehicles of the Monaco Grand Prix have careened through narrow streets, past the famed Casino, through the tunnel and along the yacht-lined harbour, with car enthusiasts and celebrities drawn to the drama in their droves. Thrumming with engines by day and parties by night, the pocket-sized principality becomes the most distinguished destination in the Mediterranean.Image courtesy of pocacola2
Victor Picks: Monaco
Where To View: Ermanno Palace Penthouse TerraceImage courtesy of Exclusive GP
Heralded as the best view of the Monaco Grand Prix by the race organisers themselves, the terraces of this €65 million privately owned penthouse residence offer spectacular uninterrupted views of 80% of the race circuit. The coveted access passes include VIP hospitality (fine cuisine, champagne and dedicated co-ordinators to assist throughout) and the opportunity to meet a leading F1 driver.
Where To Eat: Restaurant Alain DucasseImage courtesy alain-ducasse.com
The flagship restaurant of legendary chef Alain Ducasse has recently been given a makeover, turning this once gilded Grand Dame into something much more sleek and contemporary. Ornate 19th century mouldings and high ceilings remain, but now an 800 piece suspended Murano glass chandelier forms the centrepiece of a modestly designed room bathed in warm, honeyed tones of light. Set within the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, this was the first hotel restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars after it opened in 1987. Ducasse describes the haute cuisine menu as a ‘consummate gastronomic experience of the Riviera’ – think lightly steamed Mediterranean shellfish on a bed of fresh chickpea purée with a local citrus and seaweed.
Where To Play: JimmyzImage courtesy of Jacktar Super Yacht Charter
Soak up the celebrations from the circuit at this sprawling legendary nightclub by the sea that forms part of the gleaming Sporting Monte Carlo complex on Avenue Princesse Grace. Featuring both indoor and outdoor spaces (an elegant Japanese style garden), Jimmyz is in pole position when it comes to F1 parties and attracts the world’s biggest DJ’s such as Bob Sinclair, Martin Solveig and Fatboy Slim.
*Feature image courtesy of SK Design
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