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Monaco has always been the playground for the world’s wealthiest and most famous people. Whether it’s European royalty (like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) or a Hollywood one (Leonardo di Caprio, we’re looking at you), the micro-state has been the hangout spot for the world’s A-list crowd for decades. Celebrities love Monaco and Monaco loves them back.
With its yacht-lined marina, designer boutiques, world-class art galleries, Michelin-starred restaurants, burgeoning cultural scene, and, of course, glitzy casinos, it’s easy to see what makes Monaco, and especially Monte Carlo, such a magnet for the luxury-seeking jet-set pack.
Read on to find out how, you too, can have a royalty-worthy experience in Monte Carlo.
Arrive in Style
Sure, you could jump in a cab at Nice airport and be in Monaco in half an hour, but where’s the fun in that. Instead, hire a private helicopter and enjoy sweeping views of the stunning Côte d’Azur. The trip takes under ten minutes (or exactly seven as your pilot will have you know).
If you truly want to travel like royalty, then Monacair is your best bet. The company was established by Stefano Casiraghi (Princess Catherine’s late husband) and has held the title of Official Suppliers to S.A.S. the Sovereign Prince of Monaco since 1999. That means every time the Princely family of Monaco needs a ride (or, you know, a flight) to the airport, they take one of Monacair’s helicopters.
One of the great things about the company is that they have partnered with over 40 airlines to help travelers check-in their luggage and go through passport security at Monacair’s Heliport in Monaco. That means once you arrive at Nice airport, the helicopter will drop you off directly at your gate.
Stay at One of Monaco’s Most Luxurious Hotels
While there is no shortage of luxury properties in Monte Carlo, it’s also true that not all 5-star hotels were created equal.
The legendary Hotel de Paris, for example, located next to Monte Carlo’s Casino and opposite the iconic Café de Paris is in a league of its own when it comes to luxury accommodations. The hotel was a favorite of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III who celebrated numerous events and family anniversaries here.
After an extensive four-year renovation, the palace-hotel, which was built in 1864, revealed freshly redesigned common spaces (as well as the addition of new ones including a patio, outdoor pool, and a rotunda), rooms, and suites fit for royalty. One thing that, thankfully, didn’t change is the hotel’s stunning Belle Epoque façade and its wine cellar—it’s the biggest hotel wine cellar in the world storing 3.5 million bottles of wine and other types of spirits.
The glamorous Hotel Métropole, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is another stay that will make you feel like royalty. Overlooking the Mediterranean, the property was transformed in 2004 by French designer Jacques Garcia and now features 125 rooms and suites as well as four restaurants including the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo and one Michelin-starred Yoshi.
Attend a Gala
When you have so much of the world’s elite in one place, it’s only natural to have the most fabulous bashes, black-tie events and galas as well. Monaco’s social calendar is brimming with exclusive parties and contrary to what you may think you don’t need to know Prince Albert personally to get on the guest list.
In fact, one of the largest galas, The Red Cross Ball that brings together hundreds of celebrities, royal families, and dignitaries from around the globe takes place each year at the end of July in the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Monte-Carlo and anyone could attend it as long as he or she buys a ticket (prices this year were around $1,300 per seat.)
Dine at Le Louis XV
When in May of 1987, Prince Rainier III entrusted Alain Ducasse with the restaurant Le Louis XV in Hotel de Paris, the chef was only 30 years old. In less than three years, the restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars—the first-ever hotel restaurant to hold this honor. Today, Ducasses has over 25 restaurants around the world but Le Louis XV still holds a very special place in his heart (he even has a table set up in the back of the kitchen where he dines and entertains friends when he visits Monte Carlo).
While the restaurant’s menu changes seasonally, you can still taste a couple of iconic dishes such as the Provence garden vegetables and black truffle offered here since the restaurant opened more than 30 years ago.
The rest of the menu is inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean and each dish is created with fresh ingredients sourced by local producers. Regional favorites such as chickpeas and Roquebrune-Cap-Martine maquis myrtle also make a cameo. The elegant dining room subtly evokes the Riviera’s art de vivre as well. And the restaurant’s terrace is the perfect spot to see and be seen while sipping champagne.
Enjoy a Ballet Performance
Monte Carlo’s ballet, or Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, plays a major role in the municipality’s cultural life. Dance has a long-standing tradition in Monaco so in 1985 Princess Caroline of Hanover established the ballet company and to this day she is deeply involved with it.
So if you are a fan of this beautiful art form, attending a ballet performance at the stunning Salle Garnier at the Opera of Monte Carlo is a must.
The opera is actually located inside the Casino so after the performance, you can try your luck at roulette or test your poker face (or simply have a glass of wine at the casino’s swanky bar).
Go on a Shopping Spree
Some may refer to Monaco as “Billionaire’s Playground” but we’d like to call it “Fashion Heaven.”
Walking around the municipality’s Shopping Promenade, located in the heart of Monte Carlo, feels absolutely surreal. The area, which starts just opposite the Casino de Monte-Carlo and continues down Avenue de Monte-Carlo and Allée François Blanc, is home to about 40 of the most luxurious brands in the world (Chanel, Cartier, Saint Laurent, Van Cleef & Arpels, Audemars Piguet, Balenciaga, Bulgari, Chopard, Dior, and many more.)
It’s one of the most exclusive shopping areas in the world and rumor has it that some boutiques even carry items you can’t find anywhere else.