Fast cars, champagne and high rollers: visiting Monte Carlo

Monaco is a famously unique place in the world. Some know it as one of the world’s smallest countries, or as a tax-free haven for the world’s rich and powerful. Formula 1 fans may know Monaco as the host of the Monaco Grand Prix. And then there’s the gambling!

Following a couple of days admiring the beachside Catalan city of Barcelona, Emily’s TopDeck tour of Europe continued along coast of the French Riviera. The region is known for its warm climate, blue Mediterranean waters, and seaside cities such as Marseille, Nice, and of course, Monaco. These seaside cities come to life in summer, and the group spent almost every night checking out the nightlife. While our tour group were staying in the French city of Nice, we took an evening trip to Monaco to visit the famous Monte Carlo casino! Here’s how it happened:

City info:

The first thing to note about the Monaco region is that it is not governed by the French government like its surrounding cities. No, the city is recognized as its own separate state, ruled by the prestigious Grimaldi family. The Grimaldis have a long recorded lineage and a history in the area which dates all the way back to the twelfth century. This is one powerful family!

The city today is divided into nine wards, and one of those wards is the famous Monte Carlo! Another nice feature of this part of town is its beautiful blue port, which is always filled with yachts. It looks spectacular in the evening, reflecting the glow of the city while city buildings and mountains loom above. If you’re going to planning a visit to Monte Carlo, you can’t miss a warm summer walk on the waterfront at dusk!

If shopping is your thing, you’re in for a treat! Luxury fashion and boutique stores cater to the city’s affluent residents; providing shoppers with access to the world’s biggest brands in fashion. As you can imagine in this world, there is a high price to be paid for good looks, glitz and glamour. But don’t feel excluded if you’re a backpacker on a tight budget – most of Monaco is surprisingly quite down-to-earth!

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High-end shopping caters to the city’s wealthy

The Monaco Grand Prix is held every year in May, and much like the city itself, the event is considered one of the most prestigious in the world. Upon arriving in Monaco, the tour bus stopped at the famous Fairmont Hotel hairpin. Check out this photo Em snapped – for a Formula 1 bend, that sure is tight!

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Monaco’s famous Grand Prix hairpin turn

 

The Casino

As the afternoon sun lowered in the sky, Em’s tour posse approached the prestigious Monte Carlo Casino. This was truly a realm of luxury, glamour and glitz, with millionaire expatriates, fancy suits and dresses everywhere. In front of the casino (which bears resemblance to a royal palace), Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and other extravagant cars were parked by the casino’s valet staff.

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An interesting thing about this casino is that it is owned by the Grimaldi House, and Monaco’s citizens are not allowed to enter! This casino is for tourists and expatriates only, and ID’s are checked at the door. Unfortunately since photography is forbidden, we can’t show you much of the interior, but this Business Insider article can.

In the casino, Em and the group spent some time gambling in the casino’s many gaming halls, and drinking €24 euro cocktails! Unfortunately Em came out €70 down following a bad streak on the roulette table, but she was lucky. The minimum buy-in on surrounding tables were as high as €500!

Overall it was a fantastic experience living the prestigious lifestyle of the world’s rich and powerful in Monte Carlo – even if it was just for one night. Check out some final photos of the evening!

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Living the glamorous lifestyle!

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Not cheap: this bottle of French champagne costed €165!

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