Welcome to Monaco, a fascinating playground for adults, land of most expensive real estate in the world, a beautiful, cosmopolitan, jet-setting spot in the south of France.
Please, ladies and gentlemen, don’t confuse Monaco and Morocco. To draw a line between two locations, think of two movies, Casablanca with Ingrid Bergman and To Catch a Thief with Grace Kelly. The former is based in Morocco, Africa, and the latter is Cote d’Azur, Europe, south of France and its Mediterranean coast. Two different sceneries, two completely, although somewhat related, worlds.
Monaco and Morocco both share strong ties with France but whereas the rich kid, Monaco, enjoys incredible safety, tax free status for all residents (not for Americans, though, sorry, folks), skyscrapers mixed with bell époque bourgeois architecture, casinos and high rollers, Bentleys on the streets as average means of transportation, Morocco has street crime, rugged, African-infused culture, very hot climate, unrefined vast and beautiful landscapes and small, budget-friendly vehicles for those who are fortunate to buy one.
Monaco never invokes neutral feelings — you either love it or hate it. Superficial, fancy, rich — these are some of the adjectives one would use to describe it. It may be even labeled “Disneyland for adults” with non-stop gambling, expensive dining, trendy clubbing and luxury shopping. Sometimes one would find service to be a little slow, waiters to be rude or non-attentive, hotel rooms small and apartments breathtakingly expensive and yet you feel sudden attraction, and no matter what you come back time after time.
Monaco is a champion place for enjoying leisurely time. You start in Café de Paris, then move to beachfront restaurants for lunch, soak up the sun at Monte Carlo Beach club, then go for cocktails and/or dinner. Leisurely life gets in your blood and you wonder how the people who live here permanently manage to get anything done. But it is a busy place at the same time, with strong shipping and yachting industries, a very developed private banking system, and, of course, hotels and entertainment.
Summer is a time for non-stop festivities. Grand Prix F1 officially opens a season with Bal d’Ete, summer Le Sporting music concerts, Bal de la Croix Rouge and other events following it one after another. The jet-setting crowd is diverse and includes Italians, Scandinavians, Russians, British, Swiss and Germans, but surprisingly, not so many French. The heels are high, the watches are expensive and the cars are amazing from Porsches and Ferraris to Bugatti Verons parading in front of the Casino and Café de Paris.
There is always a little excitement of anticipation of seeing someone famous from Leonardo di Caprio to Prince Albert of Monaco. The safety and discreet behavior of local residents makes visiting celebrities at ease — no one is going to bother them (other than with stares) and they walk Monte Carlo streets without a crowd of paparazzi or a convoy of security vehicles following them. You need to try it at least once in lifetime to enjoy. The culture, the history, and the beauty can be (although not often) found in one package but the added factor of high luxury and real safety makes Monaco truly unique. For more information on what to do and where to stay check out www.visitmonaco.com/en.