Beginner's luck in Monte Carlo
- Recommended for:
- Beach, Short Break, Mid-range
Looking for a luxurious holiday but can’t stretch to a week? Try Monte Carlo for a fun, frivolous and fancy weekend
It’s easy to dismiss Monte Carlo as a place strictly for the rich and famous but don’t – there’s plenty to enjoy and you can cover the best of it in a weekend and on a budget too.
We stayed at the pretty plush Fairmont Monte Carlo (prices start at €249 per night based on two people sharing), which is known for its fantastic views of not only the Med (get a balcony and watch as Monaco twinkles at night) but, on a less romantic note, the famous hairpin bend of the Grand Prix – so it’s on the right track for fans of burning rubber.
Bling on the beach
Rubber aside, Monte Carlo is terribly glamorous and you can’t help but stare at everyone. You know when people have that look that they must be someone? That’s what it’s like when you walk around the second-smallest independent state in the world. And of course, they are someone.
Due to the sheer amount of wealth on show, don’t be surprised if you see a few boys in blue on the beat, as there’s one policeman to every 55 residents. They look slightly more relaxed than our own police but don’t be fooled and don’t walk around barefoot. It’s actually frowned upon unless you’re on the beach.
Having said that, there’s a huge amount of flesh on show, albeit dripping in diamonds and gold, at the Principality’s main public beach, Larvotto. Most of Monaco’s beaches are private so check before you go if your hotel has one, so you don’t miss out. Larvotto itself is a manmade beach but that doesn’t detract from its beauty – look below and watch in wonder as little fish weave about you.
Swimming is great but what else can you do when you’re feeling hot and bothered? The Jardin Japonais, or Japanese Garden (on Avenue Grace), is a great place to chill out and find a little shade. It’s free to enter and you’ll emerge feeling more Zen-like. Not that you’ll find much to stress about in Monte Carlo.
Eating out can be expensive so if it’s warm, I would recommend a not-so-glamorous trip to the Spar to get your hands on a few picnic ingredients – who wants to be stuck in a restaurant when it’s warm outside? That said, if you’re willing to walk a little, head out to Monaco-Ville, where you’ll find smaller, less showy places to dine, but be aware that service can be slightly more leisurely than you might like – no one is in much of a rush and you’re on holiday after all!
Wander past Port Hercule and window-shop for a luxury yacht, some of which are so humungous, you’ll wonder how they stay afloat. And of course, it would be rude to go all that way and not go to the casino.
Take a gamble
Whether you’re a risk-taker or not, a little flutter can leave you feeling pretty flush if you play your cards right. The Monte Carlo Casino, situated in Place du Casino, is the place to be and you’re welcome to pop in and have a look at the amazing architecture even if you’re not planning to spend. The guards are super-friendly and more than used to tourists so don’t be afraid to ask questions – they know a lot about the building and can give you a great insight. Or you could sit in nearby Café de Paris and enjoy a bottle of wine as you watch the glamorous turn up to gamble away their children’s inheritance.
Less intimidating is the Sun Casino, located in The Fairmont. I can personally recommend this, as I quadrupled my money simply by pressing some buttons. To this day I still don’t know what I did but I think it might have something to do with beginner's luck.
But you don’t need luck if you visit Monte Carlo – you’re sure to have a fantastic trip and live like a star – if only for the weekend.