I’ve been away for a couple of weeks due to work between Asia, Switzerland and the Balkans and returned to the French Riviera this week to see Monaco transformed into Grand Prix mode, especially around the port. This year’s event begins on Thursday 23 May and finished off with the big race on Sunday 26 May, while the electric ePrix, which has become more and more successful in recent years, takes place on Saturday 11 May. Find out more and avoid getting ripped off using my practical guide to the Monaco Grand Prix : I’ll be missing/escaping all the action as usual this year, with another business trip to Asia!
After a long trip last week back from Asia, there was nothing better than to take a quick hop across the port on the electric Boat Bus, with some stunning sunset views of the buildings of Monaco. It was a great feeling and surprisingly peaceful to glide silently over the calm waters of the Mediterranean after the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In addition to being a fantastic museum with great content, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is also an architectural gem – purposely built in a strategic location in the Old Town of Monaco ahead of its inauguration in 1910, it really looks like it was slammed into the side of the cliff side. You can check out this amazing perspective from the entrance to the Parking des Pêcheurs public car park, accessible by lift from the museum esplanade. To discover the museum in more detail, check out the dedicated blog article!
Walking down a major shopping street in Monaco last week after a dentist’s appointment, I looked up and noticed some nice classical Belle Époque architecture from the 1920s. Sadly more and more of these buildings are being knocked down to make way for more modern and functional buildings but it’s important to stay close to the heritage of the area as the past often contains the keys to future success!
The influence of the French Riviera truly stretches all around the world! I’m currently touring around East Asia and was pretty surprised when I came across a subsidiary of the glamorous Café de Paris of Monte Carlo, not on Casino Square but in the lobby of the palatial Galaxy Hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau in southern China, also a global gambling capital. Was very happy to see a nice sculpture of the late Princess Grace and some vibes back from home, even on the opposite side of the world by the Pacific Ocean…
A blend of old and new, this is the brand new face of the Casino Square in Monte-Carlo, with the inauguration of the “One Monte Carlo” complex on the former location of the Art Deco (and slightly Stalinist) Sporting d’Hiver building that was demolished in 2014. The whole “neighbourhood” houses residences, a conference centre and especially a host of luxury boutiques such as the 3-story Louis Vuitton store you can see here. Personally I’m still undecided if it’s cool or not, ie. a real asset to the Principality or just a monstrous carbuncle (to quote Prince Charles talking about Canary Wharf in London) – time will tell, though I have to admit it’s a relief for the construction works to be over, just waiting for the gardens to be rebuilt and Casino Square will again be the centrepiece of Monte-Carlo…
The western side of the Rock of Monaco really has the stamp of Prince Albert I, who reigned from 1889 to 1922 and was also known as the “Navigator Prince”. Nowadays his statue is in a prime position in the beautiful St Martin gardens, directly overlooking the museum who he initiated and opened in 1910, the world-famous Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Find out more about the Prince and the museum in this article, it’s a great way to spend this beautiful Sunday!
It’s not easy to find good, reasonably-priced places to go out after work in Monaco, especially in the Monte-Carlo neighbourhood where plenty of offices are located, unless you are willing to break the bank! But I recently discovered Valentin, a wine bar and restaurant and a little gem of a place hidden in the heart of Monte Carlo, just behind the Allées Lumière bus stop at the back of the mini shopping centre opposite the tourist office.
Opened in 2012 by Pier and Simona, a couple of passionate Italian restaurateurs who used to run a hotel-restaurant in the village of Triora just across the border in Liguria, it’s a great place for a quick and reasonable lunch if you are working in Monaco, with a new “plat du jour” every day. Continue reading
This stunning view of the port of Monaco was taken from rue des Remparts on a beautiful February afternoon last week. Port Hercules is mainly known nowadays as a docking area for superyachts and the main theatre for Formula 1 exploits at the end of May each year during the Monaco Grand Prix. But it’s also important to understand that it’s one of the main reasons for which Monaco has remained independent for so many centuries: the only natural deep water harbour in the region, the fact that it faces east has protected sailors from Mediterranean storms and has made Monaco significant ever since the Greeks founded the colony of Monoikos in ancient times and dedicated it to their God Heracles.
If you have already visited Monaco, you will have noticed the intense building work that is constantly taking place, it’s part of the life here that keeps the Principality independent, prosperous and dynamic, even though things can sometimes get pretty noisy and cause traffic jams! There are currently huge ships in the sea just off the Fairmont hotel and the Grand Prix tunnel, these are here to build a new land reclamation shaped like a peninsula which will take shape over the next 5-10 years and will change the appearance of this very central neighborhood, hopefully in a positive manner. These huge concrete blocks currently being shipped in are going to be ballasted and sunk into a positive to create an underground sea wall. It’s a massive project using interesting construction techniques, you can find more information here on this video in English – Monaco never shies away from progress and new ways to innovate!