When you think of Monaco three things come to mind; gambling, F1 racing and money… and lots of it. No longer just a destination reserved for multi-millionaires, Monaco has reinvented itself as a weekend getaway to suit all budgets. We take a look at how you can live the high roller lifestyle in Monaco for a weekend, on a budget suitable for everyone.
Tour the Circuit
Photo by Iwao via Flickr
At 0.8 square miles, it’s easy to think that getting around Monaco on foot would be fine. In reality there’s a lot of hill walking so it’s best to use public transport. Avoid expensive taxis and use the excellent local buses. An unlimited 24-hour ticket costs just 5.50 euros and includes the Bateau bus – a water taxi which crosses the harbour. Free lifts also operate throughout the city, taking the strain out of much of the climbs. The lifts aren’t clearly signposted so a map is essential.
The entire F1 road circuit is walkable (on non-race days) and takes around an hour if you don’t stop off en route. Off season and without a map, the best clue to finding your way around the track is to look for the rectangular-shaped metal covers dotted around the road. These cover the holes the crash-barrier sit in for three months of the year.
If the thrill of seeing the F1 cars zoom through the city seems out of your budget, opt for qualifying tickets. Cheaper than race day tickets and you’ll still experience the adrenaline rush of seeing (and hearing!) the cars roar through the tiny streets. For the cheapest race day tickets, the Rocher area is the best. Find a patch of grass and enjoy the view of the track from the hillside.
Photo by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr
All tastes are catered for in Monaco with restaurants from just about every corner of the world serving up gastronomic delights, from local corner bakeries to Michelin starred restaurants catering for Monaco’s millionaires. To avoid the high price tags but still experience some of the best food Monaco has to offer, try these dining options.
The market at La Condamine
To really experience the full flavours of Monaco, visit the food hall and market at La Condamine. Local producers and bakers sell speciality foods and fresh produce daily from 7am until 2pm.Try the Barbajuan, a fried dumpling filled with rice, parmesan and vegetables. Or the fougasse Monégasque, a bread similar to Italian focaccia but sweet. An ideal spot to pick up a portable race-day lunch.
Brasserie de Monaco
Possibly most famous for its happy hour, this bar serves half price drinks, including cocktails and champagne, daily from 6pm – 8pm. Food is also served, but the real draw is the atmosphere, drinks prices and location. Situated on Route de la Piscine, the bar overlooks the yacht-filled harbourside stretch of road used in the F1 circuit. On race day the circuit opens up to the public and bars in this stretch of the track (Piscine) keep the party going until the early hours.
Le Petit Bar
High up on ‘the rock’ in the old town of Monaco, Le Petit Bar serves excellent food at great prices. Fresh, local produce goes into the menu which contains a mix of risottos, pasta and Italian dishes alongside traditional French food.
High Stakes Gambling
Photo by Christine Vaufrey via Flickr
Monaco is home to some of the world’s most opulent casinos and the stakes can be high. Minimum bets can start at 500 euros, so this isn’t gambling for the faint-hearted. If gambling isn’t for you, enjoy the atmosphere and eclectic mix of people that gather around the roulette tables at night.
Casino de Monte Carlo
Built in 1878 by Charles Garnier (the architect who designed the Paris Opera House) the casino and gaming rooms are lavishly decorated with stained glass windows, marble sculptures and paintings. Mingle with the high stakes players but before you gamble check the minimum bets allowed. On race day the F1 cars zoom past this historic building, just metres away from the entranceway. There’s a minimum entry fee of 10 euros and there’s a dress code of jacket and tie for men.
Café de Paris
With no entrance fee and no dress code, the Café de Paris offers a relaxed alternative to Casino de Monte Carlo. Situated in Casino Square, outside there’s a view of the F1 circuit, but perhaps the best view is watching the high rollers arriving in the square for an evening of gambling and entertainment.
The Sun Casino
Part of what used to be the Loews Hotel – this casino sits at the entrance to the famous Loews tunnel section of the circuit. Now building a reputation for hosting prestigious poker tournaments, card game fans will be drawn to the no limit Texas Hold’em room, with black jack, craps and roulette available for traditional gamblers.
Casino La Rascasse
On race day this bar is the venue to go to for its views over turn 17, the Rascasse. The small casino is actually part of a bar and nightclub. Live music, DJs and a happy hour bring the party atmosphere and F1 fans will love the iconic spot on the Rascasse hairpin bend.
Start planning your trip to Monaco today:
Or go see this year’s Grand Prix in style with this day trip deal including a three-course lunch and wine at Café de Paris!