Top Things to do in Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Go to Monaco for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Stay for the gob-smacking glitz of Monte-Carlo’s Michelin-starred restaurants, chic shops, and palatial hotels.Monte-Carlo, Monaco's port at night. Copyright Amy LaughinghouseSmall but perfectly formed, Monaco measures less than one square mile and is the most densely populated—and arguably the most glamorous—country in the world. In this coastal kingdom, synonymous with the dazzling municipality of Monte-Carlo, Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches prowl the streets, and multi-million dollar yachts jockey for space in a pair of posh ports.

Port Hercules, Monte Carlo, Monaco with yachts by day. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Port Hercules, Monte Carlo, Monaco

Impeccably-coiffed women in sunglasses and stilettos stalk the shop-lined Cercle d’Or. Bronzed beauties bask at exclusive beach clubs, and high rollers try their luck in the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo, surrounded by crystal chandeliers and gold-flecked mosaics.

Monte-Carlo Monaco casino by night. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

The casino by night.

Royal-watchers climb to the hilltop Palace of Monaco to see the changing of the guard. In such a small country, it’s not uncommon to even catch a glimpse of Prince Albert II and his wife, Princess Charlene, whizzing by in a motorcade.

The changing of the guard at the Prince's Palace of Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

The changing of the guard at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.

And every May, of course, racing enthusiasts rock up for the high-octane adrenaline rush of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. Some fans shell out thousands to watch competitors speed through city streets from a prime position on the harbor’s edge, with pit lane access and an open bar.

Credit danfador Pixabay

WHERE TO EAT

The cars may be fast, but the food is not. One doesn’t make a pilgrimage to Monaco for McDonald’s, now does one? No, indeed. One comes to snarf at a constellation of Michelin-starred culinary institutions.

At Alain Ducasse’s three-star Le Louis XV (Hotel de Paris, Place du Casino), staff present theatrically plated dishes with a flourish, exemplified by the “fish bites” amuse-bouche, steamed atop hot pebbles beneath a glass dome at your table.

Alain Ducasse’s three-star Le Louis XV

Alain Ducasse’s three-star Le Louis XV

Book the chef’s table at two-star Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo (Hotel Metropole, 4 Avenue de la Madone) for front row views of culinary artists in action.

The chef's table at Joel Rubuchon Monte-Carlo. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

The chef’s table at Joel Rubuchon Monte Carlo

At one-star Le Vistamar (Hotel Hermitage, Square Beaumarchais), headed by chef Benoit Witz, feast on roast blue lobster while overlooking the sea. Finish with a dish of delicately decadent petits four.

Petits four. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Petits four at Le Vistamar

For “Mad Men” elegance, check out Cipriani (1 Avenue Princesse Grace), where waiters in white jacket and bow-tie serve classics from neighboring Italy. Try the homemade baked taglioni or a veal chop alla Milanese.

Nearby, sup on dim sum while nestled in a green velvet banquette at Alan Yau’s Song Qi (7 Avenue Princesse Grace), Monte-Carlo’s first fine dining Chinese restaurant.

Alan Yau’s Song Qi Monte Carlo Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Song Qi’s dining room

If you want to get a bellyful without emptying your wallet, stop by La Condamine Markets (15 Place d’Armes) for a cheap and cheerful lunch alongside locals. Try Fougasse Monegasque, a thin, crispy, nut-filled bread, from A Roca, a little café tucked away in a corner of the indoor market hall.

Fougasse Monegasque. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Fougasse Monegasque

WHERE TO DRINK

Imbibe the buzzy vibe on Place du Casino, Monte-Carlo’s most famous square. Grab a seat on the sidewalk terrace fronting Café de Paris, where you can peer over your bubbly and caviar blinis at the sophisticated parade of passers-by.

Cafe de Paris on Place du Casino, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Cafe de Paris on Place du Casino

Lose yourself in Lazy Tears (a cocktail of Ardbeg, vermouth and bitters) in the wood-paneled Le Bar Americain, and end your evening at the strobe-lit Buddha-Bar with the sake-to-me-kick of an Asian Spritz, grooving to DJ-spun beats beneath a statue of big Buddha himself.

Buddha Bar, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Buddha Bar

Bonus points if, like my friend Imelda here, your gems match your drink of choice.

woman holding glass of rose wine. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

WHERE TO SHOP

At Isabell Kristensen (18 Rue Princesse Marie de Lorraine), buy pret-a-porter evening wear or splurge on your own bespoke frock, with prices starting around 3,000 Euro. Thrifty fashionistas can bag a bargain on previously-owned designer styles at Le Dressing (2 Rue des Orangers and 1 Rue Princesse Florestine).

A model twirls in a strappy, pale blue dress at Isabell Kristensen's 2017 Royal Ascot Couture Collection runway show in London.

A model twirls in a strappy, pale blue dress at Isabell Kristensen’s 2017 Royal Ascot Couture Collection runway show in London.

For racing-themed gear, including hats, jackets, polo shirts, and shoes, visit the Automobile Club de Monaco’s La Boutique Officielle (46 Rue Grimaldi).

La Boutique Officielle, Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Pit crew chic at La Boutique Officielle. “Do these earphones make my head look fat, darling?”

Shop for baby clothes, fine linens, china and accessories at The Princess Grace of Monaco Foundation’s La Boutique du Rocher (1 Avenue de la Madone), where proceeds benefit ill children. You’ll find the usual high-end suspects at the Pavillons Monte-Carlo (Jardins des Boulingrins) and Le Metropole Shopping Center (17 Avenue des Spélugues), decked out in Liberacesque opulence.

Le Metropole Shopping Center, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Are those Lady Gaga’s earrings? No, they’re the chandeliers at Monaco’s Le Metropole Shopping Center.

For a more complete shopping guide, click here.

WHERE TO STAY

Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, offering views of the Grand Prix’ most dangerous turn, is an elegant haven in the heart of Monte-Carlo. It has a heated seawater pool and gardens designed by Karl Lagerfeld, four restaurants overseen by Joël Robuchon, a book-lined bar, a Givenchy spa, and 126 rooms and suites. Book the 2,500-square-foot La Suite Carre d’Or for 180-degree views of Monte-Carlo from the expansive terrace.

A rooftop view from the Hotel Metropole, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

A rooftop view from the Hotel Metropole

Belle epoque beauty Hotel Hermitage extends across five wings, with a glass conservatory designed by Gustave Eiffel, and five bars and restaurants. Among its 278 rooms and suites, the 2,150-square-foot Diamond Duplex Suite, a contemporary escape designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, has a solarium and glass staircase.

The expansive facade of the Hotel Hermitage

Hotel de Paris, which shares the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo spa and wellness center with Hotel Hermitage,is undergoing a major renovation. The nineteenth century landmark remains open while craftsmen create a new garden courtyard, a rooftop spa and pool area, and more spacious rooms and suites. The big reveal is scheduled for Autumn 2018.

Lobby of Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

The lobby of the Hotel de Paris

TOURISM INFORMATIONVisitMonaco

Port Hercule, La Condamine, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.