Monte Carlo Casino
It’s easy to be intimidated
by the high-roller reputation of Monte Carlo. Located on the French Riviera
and home to the famous casino, the city screams glitz and glamour.  Get in on the glam life and revel in your own
flyness by
arriving via helicopter. The 7-minute ride from the Nice airport offers
marvelous views across the Cote d’Azur and of Monaco.  The helicopter ride includes a transfer from
the heliport to anywhere in Monaco and I always head straight to the heart of
the principality, Place du Casino.

Place du Casino is where you
find Café de Paris, the sumptuous 5-star Hotel de Paris, and of course, the
casino. The legendary casino opened in 1863, and with its rococo style
architecture full of huge columns, marble, gilt and chandeliers, it is the
ultimate symbol of luxury and elegance. While the building is extraordinarily
lavish, gone are the days of people coming to the casino dressed in tuxedos and
gowns for an evening of gaming.

Monte Carlo Casino

Instead, I find people casually dressed in
shorts, T-shirts with the name of
their last destination emblazoned on the front and sneakers playing slot
machines. Determined not to let this imagery kill the sleek James Bond vibe
that I have in my head, I quickly make my way through this part of the casino
and make my way outside.

Monte Carlo Casino

Please note that the beauty
of the casino isn’t limited to the salons, but extends into the exterior with
the impressive Allée des Boulingrins
garden filled with exotic horticulture, fountains and ponds, and is a wonderful
compliment to the casino. The garden also offers another great vantage point
from which to see the casino, as well as stunning views of the sea and the
harbor.
Harbor in Monte Carlo

Next to the casino is the
brasserie Café de Paris. Sitting on the terrace of the lovely Art Nouveau while
having a cup of coffee or glass of wine and people watching is great
entertainment. Watch the Bentleys and
Ferraris and Aston Martins pull up to the circle and the tourists posing for
pictures next to them.  And why not keep
the gambling theme going by picking out a tourist and placing bets on which car
he will chose to pose next to.
Hotel de Paris

Looking out on the harbor from the Hotel de Paris.
While the odds may be against
you at the casino, you can’t lose at the Hotel de Paris. One of the best hotels
in the world, the Hotel de Paris boasts 5 stars, and notable restaurants, Le
Bar Americain, Michelin starred Le Grill and the 3 Michelin starred Le Louis XV,
which is as amazing as it is expensive (read: VERY).
Hotel de Paris

If a night at the Hotel de
Paris or dinner at Le Louis XV is beyond your reach, opt for a having a drink
in Le Bar Americain. For slightly more than you’d pay for a drink at Café de
Paris, you get impeccable service and beautiful surroundings that feel less touristy. Try your luck and ask for a table on the veranda so that you can better see the beautiful people, and more importantly, so they can see you. 
For more information on Monte Carlo, visit the Monaco Tourism website.