The most awaited event of the French Riviera will take place in Monte Carlo this upcoming week end. The Monte Carlo Grand Prix attracts visitors from all over the world. Doesn’t matter if you are going because you’re interested in Formula1 races or because of the various parties and events that animate the exclusive Principality. Here’s a Monte Carlo City Guide with all the coolest addresses you have to keep in mind!
WHERE TO SLEEP IN MONTE CARLO
MONTE CARLO BEACH HOTEL
(2 Av. Princesse Grace, Monaco; +33 4 93 28 66 66; www.monte-carlo-beach.com)
The Monte Carlo Beach Hotel is one of the last places in town where to breathe the spirit of the Monaco gilded age. The hotel has been restyled two years ago by India Madhavi but still keeps its timeless allure. Even those not staying at the hotel can go to its beach club: pure chic coziness. The Hotel features 4 restaurants and bars: Elsa serves organic and local food of the provençal tradition prepared by the chef Jean Claude Brugel, while La Vigie is a rustic-chic restaurant renowned for its unique view on the sea. During the time of the Grand Prix (end of May) there’s also a temporary beach club, The Sea Lounge, that becomes one of the most glamorous places in the Riviera.
Behind the hotel you can admire Villa La Vigie, an exclusive villa for rent (the owner is the Société Des Bains de Mer) where the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld lived for almost ten years.
MONTE CARLO BAY
(40 Av. Princesse Grace; +377 98 06 02 00; www.montecarlobay.com)
Monte Carlo Bay is a huge resort that overlooks the sea with a magnificent pool. The style is less charming than Monte Carlo Beach Hotel but the service and facilities (spa-casino-activities) are 5 stars level. The Blue Gin Bar and restaurant is a cool place-to-be for drinks and for brunch on Sunday.
(4 Avenue de la Madone; +377 93 15 15 15; www.metropole.com)
The Metropole Hotel matches quite well with the idea of a luxurious hotel on the French Riviera. Conveniently located in the so-called Carré d’or, close to the Monte Carlo Casino, the Metropole welcomes guests with a classical but glamorous style. The world-famous interior designer Jacques Garcia designed part of the furnishings giving the hotel a mix and match of styles that goes from the Renaissance to the Empire style. The hotel features a swimming pool and a well-kept garden but it finds its best during the winter, owing to its warm and cozy style. On the top of the building you find Yoshi, one of the best starred restaurants in Montecarlo, by chef Joe Robuchon.
(Square Beaumarchais; +377 98 06 40 00; www.hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com)
Located just behind the Casino de Monte Carlo and surrounded by the most luxurious shops, The Hermitage has always been attracting very high level guests, including aristocrats and celebrities. The Hermitage features 325 rooms and suites, and eight apartments, recently restyled in a glorious traditional style. Le Vistamar has a fantastic reputation in town and has a magnificent panoramic view. Monte Carlo glamour at its best.
WHERE TO EAT IN MONTE CARLO
( 24 Av. Princesse Grace; +377 97 70 74 67; www.mayabay.mc)
Maya Bay is an ethnic restaurant serving Thai, Japanese and Moroccan cuisine, with an exceptional quality for price (but remember we are talking about the most expensive country on earth). Food is exquisite and the atmosphere is definitely cozy, with a vibrant soundtrack and décor that recalls the jungle. Definitely the place to go if you are planning to go to Jimmy’z, since it’s almost next door.
(11 Rue du Portier; +377 97 77 03 04; www.mozza.mc)
Mozza is an Italian restaurant with a good pizza made with genuine Italian products. The place is more similar to a Parisian bistro than an Italian restaurant but it has a lively atmosphere and a nice terrace to enjoy during the summer.
PLACE DU MARCHE
The Place du Marché (market square) is where to try a genuine local experience. The square is the Monte Carlo food market venue – called Marché de la Condamine – and under the porches that surround the square you find various typical restaurants where to try Monaco specialties. For instance the Barbagiuan, a deep fried meet and cheese ravioli that will delight everybody. Or the socca, delicious chickpea gruel. Ideal for a quick but tasty lunch.
(9 Rue Alberti; +33 4 93 13 89 58; www.emiliescookies.com)
If you don’t want to have lunch in Place du Marché, just behind the corner you’ll find Emilie’s Cookies, an American coffee shop with good smoothies and exquisite pastries. It’s owned by locals and is always crowded with a young and cool clientele.
CASA DEL CAFÈ
(25 Avenue de la Costa; +377 93 25 52 03)
Casa del Café is the perfect spot both for a quick pasta lunch and an afternoon coffee with friends. The staff is nice and careful. It’s one of the few places in Monte Carlo where to find locals sitting at the tables.
LE GRILL DE L’HOTEL DE PARIS
(Place du Casino; +377 98 06 38 38; www.hoteldeparismontecarlo.com)
On the top floor of the Hôtel de Paris, Le Grill has a sliding roof that gives one of the best views of the Principality. This restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Star. The menu proposes Le Grill’s classics, such as the legendary soufflé, but it is adapted every day to what is available on local markets. Lunch and dinner are never the same at Le Grill. Ideal for business lunch or for romantic candlelit dinners.
(different locations; www.aroca.mc)
A Roca is a mix between an épicerie and a patisserie. Here you can have typical plates such as the barbagiuanus, and the pan bagnat, a typical fresh and Mediterranean sandwich with tuna, eggs, tomatoes and salad.
DRINKS AND CLUBS IN MONTE CARLO
(11 Av. Princesse Grace; +377 93 25 52 00; www.sasscafe.com)
Le Sass’ is one of the best places in town where to have proper fun. Owned by Sassa, the true main attraction of the local, and his son Samy, Le Sass’ is a restaurant that late at night becomes piano bar and then club. When you are inside, you feel as you’re in a member’s club because of the same clientele, with some incursions of international celebrities.
(40 Av. Princesse Grace; +377 98 06 02 00; www.montecarlobay.com)
The Blue Gin is one of the bars of the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. It has been recently renewed and it features an amazing terrace with a breathtaking view. The atmosphere has become hotter as well because of a new dj that plays a good chill music. Not a place where to get wasted but perfect for a drink with a view (inside there’s also a billiard at guests disposal).
(26 Av. Princesse Grace; +377 98 06 70 68; www.jimmyzmontecarlo.com)
The Jimmy’z is an institution in Monte Carlo. It’s definitely the place to go in order to be glamorous. Every celebrity has walked its funky dance floor. It has a terrace that can get incredibly crowded during summer even if surviving face control is not easy at all.
LA NOTE BLEUE
( Plage du Larvotto, avenue Princesse Grace – 00 377 93 500502, www.lanotebleue.mc)
The lounge music and the live jazz band creates a relaxed chill-out zone on Larvotto beach, Monaco’s free sandy beach. Comfortable chairs on the beach, together with a helpful staff, create a relaxed casual atmosphere for lazy Sunday afternoons of eating, sipping cocktails and people watching.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE IN MONTE CARLO
Who says that Monte Carlo is just lavish parties and luxury places? The Principality has plenty of cultural and relaxing venues to enjoy all year long. For instance, walking through the areas of Roquebrune Cap Martin or La Mala can offer amazing views on the sea and on the fabulous villas of the area.
The Oceanographic Museum has the biggest aquarium in Europe and there’s the possibility to visit Le Cabanon (by appointment), the legendary holiday house of Le Corbusier in Cap Martin. The Monte Carlo Opera Garnier is a smaller copy of the namesake opera house in Paris; it was made in six months and became a landmark of the Principality’s architecture. It’s possible to buy tickets for the Opera or for the Jazz Festival that take place every November.
In April the Masters Tennis Tournament marks the opening of the season that has its peak in the end of May with the Grand Prix (the Sunset Parties organized by the beach of the Meridien Hotel are the place-to-be in this period).