MonacoMonaco is one of the three remaining city states along with Singapore, and the Vatican. It's the most densely populated place on earth and ruled by a singular monarch. This is mainly a playground for the rich, and I mean ultra rich. Not a ton of beaches in Monaco, but lots of 'civilized' activities such as horse shows, racing, drinking, gambling, and exclusive get-togethers of the .001% of the world's wealthy. It was the final real destination in my month-long trip across Europe, and a well deserved break from the go go go of 11 countries in 28 days. I actually stayed in France (the "border" was the street next to the hotel), as I was using points and at the time it was the closet Marriott property, but I didn't really take any significant pictures of the hotel.
The ArrivalWe drove in from the Italian side along the Riviera coast, and when I came around the last cliff to the bays of Monaco, it was a "wow" moment, and I am impressed with myself I did not crash. I found a turnout very close to the peak and parked so I could take pictures. You have to cross the road from the turn out (because they drive correctly in France and Italy), but that was a life reaffirming task to cross with 70kph traffic zipping by. Worth it. Such a stunning visual, it is really breathtaking in the sense you almost forget to breathe as you take it in. I kinda knew this ahead of time and planned my route from Brescia to ensure I went this way.
Then we drove into the country proper, into the city streets and following the twisting winding tunnels, corkscrews and nightmare stops on steep hills with a manual transmission van. A couple of false turns before I found the road to Cap d'Ail, and then it was right to the coast again, quickly to my hotel as it was right on the coast. I parked the car for the 3 days here, I did not want to drive and everything is so close anyways; it's a walkable city.
MonacoSettling into the hotel, everyone then went with as we walked through Fountvieille and into Centre commercial (the mall in that area) that contained a food shop, some clothing places, restaurants and the museum of the car collection of the Prince. There is also an elevator in there that brings you up to the main road through town, quite higher up on the cliff, the Boulevard Charles III. This was our main point into the core each day.
The Place du Casino, which is the center of the Monte Carlo district, and without argument the focal point of the elegance, with the Casino de Monte-Carlo, Hotel de Paris, Casino du Cafe de Paris, Metropole Shopping mall, and where everyone parks their Ferraris, Bentleys, Rolls, and lesser cars like Mercedes, BMW's etc. As you may have guessed, they was my favorite place, and still retains a lot of the 1870's charm when it came into its own.
I paid the extra fee for the private salon. Tip, the bar in the main area has low grade booze like Absolut. The private salon has much better drinks available. I took my stake of 100 euros (I know, BIG spender eh?) and headed to one of the active roulette tables. This is the game that made Monte Carlo famous, and one of the only ones you just really cannot have a system to game. It's 49% black, 49% red, 2% green odds, every spin. Nothing changes that. A true game of chance and from what I have read, the gentleman's choice.
I played for an hour. I somehow couldn't lose. So I kept building up my pile of chips while a gentleman next to me, went through 750,000 euros in 25 minutes on 25k to 35k bets each spin. He didn't win once and lost the entire stake. I would garner a bet I had a better time there. So finally it was time to leave and walking back to the hotel, dressed like that, in that weather (72, ocean breeze) the softly lit city, it was surreal. Like living a movie.
SummaryMonaco is exceptional elegance, and not what you would call bougie, but a level so far above that with people of old money and mega rich. It's not for everyone, but if you want to rub elbows and mingle with this crowd, it is accessible in the clubs, casinos, and particularly the Hotel de Paris.
The costs here can be exceptional. Eating out is pricey, and the grocery was a god send. Reasonable prices and cheap French wine. I absolutely love this place, wallowing in the extremely manicured city.
Lora - 2020-04-02
Omar H. - 2020-04-02