At the western end of the French Côte d’Azur lies the independent city-state of Monaco. Spanning less than a square mile, the Principality and its most famous district, Monte Carlo, are names that that are synonymous with a world of hedonism, opulence and beauty.
Under the indulgent eye of a much-publicised royal family, you can experience a location that has more millionaires and billionaires per capita than anywhere else on earth.
As a visitor, just dipping a toe into such rarefied social circles – and enjoying the unparalleled opportunities for people-watching – makes for tremendous fun.
Photo copyright @BenjaminVergely.
Monaco has a colourful history to match its flamboyant present. Disguised as a Franciscan monk, Francois Grimaldi reclaimed a fortress on the Rock of Monaco from rival Italians in the late 13th century. Six centuries later, in an effort to restore wealth to the country, Prince Charles III established the first casino – and thus Monte Carlo was born.
It may only be the world’s second smallest country, but Monte Carlo can still lay claim to several unmissable attractions: the magnificent Place du Casino and the legendary casino itself; the Prince’s Palace; Port Hercules with its plethora of multi-million-pound yachts and the Musée Océanographique, home to over 6,000 aquatic species.
Photo copyright @BenjaminVergely
Each year, Monaco also hosts one of the most iconic events on the sporting calendar – its Grand Prix. Not only is it the most famous race on the Formula 1 calendar but one of the oldest too, having been first run in 1929.
When it comes to places to stay you really will be spoilt for choice – particularly if you have deep pockets! The crème de la crème is undoubtedly the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, a majestic establishment that has starred in a multitude of films, two James Bond classics among them.