If you’re planning a trip to France’s illustrious and chic Côte d’Azur, there are a few places you must stop… Monte Carlo, Monaco is at the very top of the list.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit the French Riviera, known in french as the Côte d’Azur. Today I’m sharing a recap of my experience with tips on where to stay and what to do if you ever find yourself in the Principality of Monaco.
Before leaving the US, I didn’t really know what to expect to find in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Vague recollections of Grace Kelly footage and old James Bond movies crossed my mind.
I knew it was a sovereign state, separate from France. I knew it was governed by Prince Albert II. I knew it was a very small and wealthy nation… But that’s about all I knew.
What I found was a pleasant surprise. Old world charm, pristine beaches, gorgeous mountains in the back ground, and luxury at every turn.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (approximately 2 squares miles) yet one of the most wealthy and safe. It is bordered by France on all sides, with the exception of its long beachfront. From Monte Carlo, Monaco you can see Italy only 5 kilometers away. It was the perfect place to start a French Riviera Girls Getaway with my friend Amanda.
We flew into Nice, France then promptly climbed into a helicopter for a 7 minute ride down the coastline to Monte Carlo. This experience alone was worth the 8 hour flight from New York to Nice.
Here are a couple photos from the air…
Towering peaks in the distance, sprawling beaches, lush greenery peppered with villages, century-old fortresses, and then BOOM… Monte Carol Monaco, a heavily populated yet extremely beautiful city right ahead.
We landed on the edge of the water, then headed off to our first stop, the renowned Hôtel Hermitage.
Hôtel Hermitage is the essence of luxury. Known for providing the highest level of service and opulent accommodations, Hôtel Hermitage is a hotspot for the rich and famous, including many American celebrities.
Our room overlooked the port full of lavish yachts with a view of the royal palace in the background.
We were able to see several of the suites, visit the Thermes Marins Monte Carlo Spa in the hotel, and dine in several of its Michelin Star Restaurants.
Actually walking through historic hotel alone, is a treat. Its winding corridors hold elegant treasures of every variety. Just make sure to look up!
We had relaxing signature massage treatments at the Thermes Marins Monte Carlo Spa, then floated in the pool overlooking the sea.
After our stay at Hôtel Hermitage, we moved onto the Hôtel de Paris just a block away. Located right on the main square next to the famed Monte Carlo Casino, Hôtel de Paris combines luxury and excitement!
Our room overlooked the lovely casino and cityscape all the way down to the sea.
Just take a look at our balcony…
And the balcony view of hoppin’ Monte Carlo after dark.
Our room at Hôtel de Paris was a mixture of old world style and modern comfort. Perfect to come back to at the end of a long day (or night) of living it up on the French Riviera.
These two luxurious hotels are attached by an underground tunnel so you can reach the spa from both locations without ever having to go outside. Pretty swanky!
So, what do you do for fun in Monte Carlo, Monaco… Besides relaxing in world-class hotels and spas??
You shop. Eat. Go to one of the 300+ annual event or shows. Gamble. Boat. Lay on the beach. Watch fireworks. Go celebrity spotting. Visit the palace. Experience riviera night life. Site-see. And eat some more.
Monte Carlo is known for its haute culinary scene. We dined at three… THREE Michelin Star restaurants while we were there.
Le Vistamar is located at Hôtel Hermitage overlooking the water, serving dish after dish of true culinary art. The kind of food you think can’t possibly taste as good as it looks. Then you take a bite and are awestruck by the array of flavors and texture squeezed into one spoonful.
Here are some of the courses from the lobster tasting menu at Le Vistamar.
We also ate at the highly acclaimed Restaurant L’Hirondelle located at the Thermes Marins Monte Carol Spa. L’Hirondelle is known for its thoughtful healthy dishes using regional ingredients.
We enjoyed lunch there before our spa treatment. Sitting out on the terrace we devoured elegant seafood dishes, and some the best desserts in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Last, but certainly not least on our Micheline Star binge… Blue Bay.
This was a truly special evening. After a day of site seeing, we dressed up and headed down the road to Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort. Sitting out on the terrace, we feasted on vibrant well-balanced creations from Chef Marcel Ravin.
At the end of this glorious meal, something happened that I will never forget… An extensive fireworks display. We sat and enjoyed our dessert with bold color bursting over our heads. The excitement in the sky seemed to capture the essence of our culinary experience perfectly, as if it were meant to be.
It was a magical night in Monte Carlo!
What else did we do in Monte Carlo, Monaco?
We walked the city to take in the old-world charm and culture.
We climbed the steps up to the royal palace, the best place to view the city of Monte Carlo. (We learned when the flag is up, the prince is at home.)
We visited a serene Japanese Tea Garden right in the middle of the city.
We shopped at the main square in Monte Carlo.
We had our fill of Laduree Macarons.
And we just so happened to be in town when Le Promenade Monte Carlo Shopping Event was taking place. An evening of small bites from various foods trucks and amazing wines right in the heart of Monte Carol’s shopping district.
We walked around town tasting local flavors from some of the cities’ best known restaurants, including Buddha Bar. Who knew I would taste some of the best sushi of my life in Monte Carlo?!
All in all my days in Monte Carlo, Monaco exceeded all possible expectations.
It was beyond luxurious, undeniably delicious, and the absolute perfect way to kick off our girls trip. I felt spoiled at every moment… Just as you should in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Stay tuned for next week’s travel post on Nice, France.