Exploring The French Riviera: A Weekend In Monaco

Monaco is known as being a playground for the rich. After all, 1 in 3 of its citizens are millionaires, and some of the world’s most expensive superyachts are docked in the ports of the city-state. It’s a place of decadent culture and fine dining, casino gaming and supercar driving. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (after the Vatican), yet there’s plenty to see, do and eat here – and you don’t even have to own a yacht to enjoy it.

4 or 5 Star?

Accommodation in Monaco pretty much consists of 4* and 5* hotels. That’s only a very slight exaggeration. These kinds of hotels are going to break you financially, unless you have very large numbers in your bank account. Of course, budget-savvy travellers can find a bargain room or check on Air B&B for the odd friendly host, but most people who go to Monaco want to spend a couple of nights living in absolute extravagant luxury. Anyone thinking of moving to Monaco should be aware that the country has the most expensive real estate in the world.

The most iconic hotel in the city, and one of the leading hotels in the world, is the Hotel de Paris. A night here in a courtyard view room will set you back over €300, with sea view and casino view rooms costing significantly more. For that price, you get access to the hotel’s private beach, Michelin Star restaurants, bars, and you can check out the wine cellar, which is one of the largest in the world with over 300,000 bottles of wine.

Not far away is the Hermitage, another luxury option with panoramic views across the city and the seas. The 19th century building sits atop a cliff overlooking the bay, and the sea-view rooms cost in the region of €600 a night! A relaxing experience awaits at the Hotel Metropole, which swaps out the glamorous James Bond vibes for afternoon tea and poolside lunches. Hotel Metropole is also home to the Givenchy Beauty Boutique spa, one of the top spas in the city.

The Finest Dining

Monaco has a beautiful gastronomical scene. There’s everything from farmer’s markets to 3* Michelin restaurants. In other words, the food here is great, and if you get a chance to dine out in Monaco then you should take it!

The Marche de la Candamine is the grandest food market in the city, and is full of speciality food and a buzzing atmosphere that ignites the senses. Try out some deep-fried ravioli, fresh pizza or sushi. Outside you can find the farmer’s market, where locals from nearby villages sell their produce. This is an excellent place to grab an affordable meal.

If you’re splashing out, Le Louis XV is the pinnacle of fine dining, and is situated in the Hotel de Paris. The French taster menu is excellent, and the souffles are world-renowned. Joel Robuchon takes a more ‘tapas’ approach, with many little dishes and desserts. The Farmount is the place to be for afternoon tea, and serves delicious finger sandwiches and freshly baked pastries with quality loose-leaf teas. The Cafe de Paris is one of the classiest establishments in town, and has stunning terrace views over the city, but you can still expect to spend €100 on two courses here. In case you haven’t noticed, Monaco is not cheap.

To See and Do

The Casino de Monte Carlo is a premier destination and filming location for Casino Royal and other blockbuster movies.

Monaco is known for its fine dining, yachting and casino gaming. Of the three, casino gaming is, in many ways, the most accessible to visitors. Entry to the Casino de Monte Carlo costs just €10, and many guests go to admire the action from afar, gaze at the décor and soak up the atmosphere.

You can find all of the usual casino games in the Casino de Monte Carlo, from roulette and hold ‘em poker, but be aware that betting stakes can be quite high – the minimum bet on a Blackjack table is €25. The casino is host to major poker tournaments such as the EPT, as well as being one of the three destinations on the Full Tilt Ultimate Player’s Trip. Cash games are also running daily.

Lovers of shopping will have plenty to be happy about during their trip to Monaco. The highest concentration of top brand stores is in the Cercle D’or district, where you can find names like Gucci and Chanel. When you’re finished with shopping, take an evening stroll along the harbour. The Porte de Monaco is quieter at night, and you may get a minute to yourself or a romantic moment with a loved one.

Of course, Monaco is also host to the F1 Grand Prix, but you will have to book accommodation months in advance if you want to visit the country at this time, and prices will be even higher. Still, tickets to the Grandstand start at just €44, and if you can make it this is one of the most exciting (and busiest) times to be in the city.

Whatever you decide to do, Monaco is an excellent destination for a weekend break!

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