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!
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!
THE iconic angle looking west over Monaco, taken from the former Vista Palace hotel in Roquebrune, an eagle’s nest perched 330m above the Mediterranean. To get here, you need a car and drive up towards the motorway access ramp in the direction of Italy – lots of construction work near the hotel which is being rebuilt going on but it is worth it, especially at sunset!
Beautiful February sunset captured in Monaco! One of the unfortunate particularities here is that you never actually see the sun set as the Principality faces east towards the sea and the sun drops down in the evening behind the 550m wall of the Tête de Chien mountain located to the west. However there are certain evenings, especially in winter, where the cloud patterns over the Italian mountains capture the final rays of the setting sun and set the sky on fire in a truly splendid manner – this is a perfect example and great to reminisce over as I fly towards Sofia in Bulgaria, my home for the next 5 days (perhaps some of the next daily pictures will come from there!).
The Casino of Monte-Carlo in all its splendor on a sunny January afternoon: the legendary facade overlooking Casino Square continues to fascinate and remains one of the lasting emblems of the Principality of Monaco. What is less known is that this is the second iteration of the casino: the first version was opened in 1963 in a distinctly blander style and after 15 years of only moderate success, an opera house was added in 1878, the Salle Garnier named after its Parisian architect, Charles Garnier and modelled on the eponymous opera house in the heart of Paris. Finally this third and final version of the facade was completed in 1889/90 by Charles Touzet and lives on to this date…
Want to find out more about the difference between Monaco and Monte-Carlo? Then check out this short article…
Every summer all across the French Riviera coastline, the night sky is lit up by hundreds of spectacular colours and festive bangs to celebrate the balmy weather and the holiday season. The Principality of Monaco is no exception, since pretty much every evening around midnight, a short fireworks display is launched during the Sporting Club summer festival after each concert for the benefit of the viewing public who have paid for the privilege.
But in terms of fireworks, the centrepiece remains the Monaco International Fireworks Competition (officially the “Concours international de feux d’artifice pyromélodiques de Monaco”) which blocks off the whole town for 20 minutes of magic set to synchronised (the organisers hope!) music, highlighting the talents of fireworks artists from all around the world – obviously everything is free!