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.
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.
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.
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 a 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 choose to pose next to.
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).
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.
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Dukkah It’s an Egyptian blend of nuts, seeds and spices, which you can either buy or make yourself Combine it with a grilled ripe peach for a superlative summer experience, especially with freshly whipped cream and a scattering of blueberries