Where to begin… they’re truly not joking when they say that this is the home to millionaires! Just by simply admiring your surroundings on the drive into the city (after the ridiculous tax you have to pay upon entering), you can tell you’re in a high scale part of the world as the harbour is crammed with billions of Euros worth of yachts and the coastline consists of mansions with futuristic cars parked outside that should have ‘do not touch’ signs on them. It feels like a place where all of the rich and famous meet for a weekly gathering to play poker and discuss their wealth.
Casinos have been shaping Monaco into what you know it to be today and making it famous since 1863. To this day it remains to be the finest and most luxurious destination for high rollers and A- list celebrities and the main square is home to Casino de Monte Carlo, the most famous in the world and offering a gold star visitor experience.
The only thing I learnt by visiting Monte Carlo is that you should not even consider going in any kind of normal or comfy clothes because you will stick out like a sore thumb and attract unwanted attention. Men are generally suited and booted in their best tuxedos and the women are strutting around in the fanciest dresses and heels big enough to look down on a giraffe. I felt rather uncomfortable because this is not my kind of scene; I’m more of a tomboy who lives in trousers and trainers so having to walk around dressed up like a model was certainly not my idea of a fun time.
Don’t get me wrong, heading to the 5* world that is Monte Carlo is an amazing experience and one I would always jump at the chance of having, but you need to have seriously deep pockets to even consider and kind of vacation here let alone be a resident! The cafe in front of the world famous casino was rammed with customers sipping on the highest quality wine and munching on the fanciest meals that you could actually consume within one bite after remortgaging your house and taking out multiple loans. We made the mistake of feeding our curiosity to see what the service was like which ended in us paying €14 for just 2 tiny bottles of water which you could usually get in a shop for less than €2. Crazy I know!
But what did make me laugh was when I walked into one of the famous places in the world… yes, McDonalds. Everything was literally as cheap as chips and it was swarming with people (who I like to think of as from the ordinary world) just wanting a bog standard Big Mac and Fries. It was something I was not expecting to see in such a gold plated, high scale area. Of course with me being the cheapskate that I am I didn’t think twice about grabbing a Croque Mcdo (basically the French McDonald’s version of a croque Monsieur), an Oreo McFlurry and a coke for less than €6. Thats what I call affordable, cheap and cheerful. Anyway, how can you compare this to a plate of lobster and caviar, who really needs that anyway?
Other than sitting watching the beautiful night sky change colours and living in the dream of the life you wish you had, all there was for us to do before heading back to reality was to take the plunge and make a move towards the most admired places in this foreign land… The casino, where you can drain the remainder of your life savings. if you’re like me and not a fan of gambling, you can still get a good experience (and also cross something off your bucket list whilst bragging on Instagram) by entering the building to take a stroll around the main foyer and pretend you’re in a Hollywood film without actually paying the casino’s entrance fee to the gambling hall (of course it costs to enter, they’ll take the chance to get money out of you wherever possible). You can take the weight off your feet by lounging in the swanky furniture, down a few overpriced cocktails and of course you have to pose for the souvenir photos with the giant plastic poker chips. What’s not to love ehhy!
You can’t leave without striking a pose in front of all the Ferraris and Lamborghinis outside, not to mention the insane amount of gold and limos to make the folk back home a little envious.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), we only had a few hours in Monte Carlo although a little taste of this glamourous life is all I really needed, there wasn’t much opportunity to see the lifestyle during the daytime which may be slightly different. Other than the casinos (which is basically what the nightlife here consists of other than drinking yourself into debt), there are other things to spend your time doing if you can dare to splash your well earned cash on a fancy holiday.
There are several museums including one with a private collection of antique cars and the Oceanographic museum which has a variety of ocean life exhibits and the first ever built submarine, there’s the Japanese Gardens, the Harbour (to admire the gold coated yachts or even take a boat cruise around the island), the Larvotto Beach to top up your tan and the Metropole shopping centre where it is dead easy to get your hands on a million dollar car or even a tuxedo for your toddler. What more could you ask for!
Not forgetting all of the other locations you may recognise around town as it has been a filming location for several hit movies including James Bond’s Never Say Never Again and Goldeneye and is also the place to be during the Monte Carlo Film Festival which runs annually. And, for all the motorheads, it’s the place to find the Circuit De Monaco where the annual event of the Monaco Grand Prix is usually held on the last weekend of May. Also on the way in, we stopped off at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco; the official residence of the Grimaldi family located right by the Old Town. It has stunning views from the courtyard over the bay and it’s chambers can be toured by visitors during certain months of the year (while it isn’t being used as residence) and you can also see the traditional changing of the guard. Overall, there’s more than enough to fill your time if you plan on staying for longer as there is so much more to Monaco yet to be discovered.
It will more than likely be one of my future homes If I am am ever lucky enough to win the jackpot on the lottery but for now I am happy I got to experience it just for a little while.
Oh to have a life of luxury, isn’t it everyones dream…?