Monaco, the undisputed capital of luxury, is famed worldwide for its buoyant Belle Époque Casino, millionaire residents and glamorous Grand Prix.
The picturesque setting in the sunny South of France between the Med and the Alps along with the high-end vibe and the fabulous Monaco properties make from this tiny extravagant state an ideal destination for luxurious holidays, exquisite breaks and lavish lifestyle.
Here are 6 great things you should do when you set your foot in this fancy world:
1. Attend the Grand Prix
Every May the principality hosts the Monaco Grand Prix, which means there will be plenty of VIPs, buzz and excitement in town during this period. Monaco GP is one of the world’s most glamorous sporting events and certainly every Formula One driver’s dream.
The race’s history and prestige, the exuberant atmosphere on the streets and the fabulous cars with their engines screaming at every corner, make this event a must and a once-in-a-lifetime thrill, whether you are an ardent F1 fan or just a curious visitor.
You can choose to survey the spectacle from either the exclusive paddock area where the drivers prepare for the competition; from one of the grandstands that line the course; or from the hill above the circuit.
Grand Prix de Monaco takes place on May 26, 2013. Tickets are available from Automobile Club de Monaco.
2. Roam Monaco’s Old Town
Located on a rocky foreland that stretches into the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco’s Old Town or Monaco-Ville is one of the most interesting and picturesque quarters of the principality. Its quaint pedestrian streets brimming with history lead you to some of Monaco’s most important landmarks. These include the beautiful Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the Oceanographic Museum and the grandiose Prince’s Palace, where you can experience the spectacular changing of the guards each day at 11:50.
The narrow lanes of Monaco-Ville are dotted with some excellent gourmet restaurants and charming Italian trattorias, just perfect to relax, have a great meal, and enjoy the beautiful sea views.
3. Take a day trip to Eze
Located only 8 km from Monaco, the medieval fortified village of Eze makes for a wonderful day trip for anyone looking to experience the real charm of Cote d’Azur. Perched on a rock high above the Mediterranean Sea, the enchanting town consists of a picture-perfect cluster of narrow winding streets that open out into pretty little squares and patios full of charm and serenity.
Eze provides stunning views of the Mediterranean, excellent dining and shopping opportunities, as well as a series of lovely attractions, such as the famous Jardin Exotique or the path of Friedrich Nietzsche – a gorgeous local trail that goes from Eze village to Eze-sur-Mer, where you can indulge in all sorts of water activities.
4. Visit the Museum of Antique Automobiles
Beautifully located on the Terrasses de Fontvieille, the Museum of Antique Automobiles features a remarkable exhibition of beautifully-maintained vintage cars. The collection belongs to His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III of Monaco and consists of 100 shiny pieces, including De Dion Bouton 1903, Chrysler Imperial 1956, Mansell’s historic Grand Prix Ferrari and many other distinguished models from Rolls Royce, Mercedes and Maserati.
The museum makes the delight of any luxury cars enthusiast and can be visited every day (except Christmas Time).
5. Indulge in the Principality’s lovely gardens
Monaco prides itself with an exquisite collection of parks and well-manicured gardens, where you can relax and admire some really extraordinary floral compositions. Some of the most popular include the stunning Jardin Exotique with its world-class collection of cacti and breathtaking panoramic views, the majestic Princess Antoinette Park and the utterly impressive Japanese Garden, where water, stone and vegetation are perfectly combined in order to ensure that special Zen atmosphere.
Other interesting options are the French-style gardens outside the Monte-Carlo Casino, the Monaco Zoo, the quiet Fontvieille Park and the sublime Princess Grace Rose Garden.
6. Shop like a Star
From the idiosyncratic shops and souvenir stalls tucked away in the Old Town to the luxury designer boutiques and glamorous chocolateries found in Monte-Carlo’s famous Carre d’Or, Monaco offers a spectacular wide-ranging shopping experience.
The prestigious Golden Square, including the place du Casino, avenue des Beaux Arts and avenue Monte Carlo, features an exclusive selection of luxury brands such as Dior, Gucci, Hermes or Chanel, which make it a favorite among the well-heeled fashionistas and celebrities.
For a more down to earth experience, however, you can check out the Fontvieille Shopping Centre, the Metropole Gallery or the lovely rue Grimaldi – a vibrant shopping street in the Condamine quarter, where you can find everything from clothes and perfumes to gourmet groceries and fresh-garden fruits. An especially charming place here is the morning Condamine Market, a traditional Provencal fair, where, in addition to shopping, you can also soak up the real Monégasque vibe while sipping a coffee in one of the atmospheric terraces around.
To conclude, Monaco is one of the trendiest destinations in Europe and a wonderful place to enjoy the natural beauty and glamorous lifestyle of the French Riviera. Moreover, there are plenty of excellent flats to rent in Monaco, the Grand Prix is just around the corner and the weather is getting better every day, so why not take advantage and treat yourself with a memorable vacation?