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The Principality of Monaco is the second smallest state in the world by extension, and Monte Carlo is its liveliest neighborhood; 2 km² of land bathed by the sea, where the climate is mild and rainfall is very rare. It is the ideal destination for a weekend getaway in the sign of bien vivre, just over 3 hours from Milan with two significant bonuses: everyone here speaks Italian and you don’t need to change money. It is a must for those heading to the French Riviera: many are subjected to the intriguing nightlife of Cannes, or like to wander around the market in Place Des Lices in Saint Tropez, hoping to see Brigitte Bardot in the crowd.
It is not just Ferrari glamor, yacht and rumble. Monte Carlo is a Philadelphia actress who became Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco; it is that curve, just before going down towards the port, where those who have the foresight to stop can enjoy a view that is difficult to describe in the Principality. It is a dress that we rarely have the opportunity to wear, it is a bet at the casino, even if gambling has always frightened us. It is a walk to the Jardin Exotique, shopping at the Métropole, watching the skyscrapers of Larvotto, without worries, savoring that air so different from the others, so posh, that you can’t breathe in any other country in the world.
Monte Carlo is a novel by Daphne Du Maurier resting on the couch, while the wakes of the yachts create wonderful shapes in the sea in front of me. It is the dress we will wear tonight, which seems to come from the atelier of our most sparkling childhood dreams.
NIGHTLIFE: AN EVENING OF CHARM AND JET-SETTING
Monte Carlo lights up when the sun goes down. The Monegasque nightlife is surreal, suspended between lights and shadows. Royal and brazen, difficult not to be bewitched. The Buddha Bar is an iconic address, dominated by soft lights and allusions from the East: an Orient Express departing every evening from the Place Du Casino, to dream of the Levant without leaving the Principality. Cocktails and sake, champagne and narghile: evenings started with a toast at the Buddha Bar are hardly forgotten.
It is not known if the Sass Café owes its fame to its patron, Sassa, who reserves a warm welcome to the guests, to the music, which like a siren song recalls the patrons, or to the jet setters who usually populate it: the data in fact, this address is a must for those wishing to experience an authentic Monegasque evening!
It is forbidden to leave Monaco without an evening filled with dancing: our choice, at times patriotic, can only be Twiga. A disco with different souls, with parterre de rois always present, and internationally renowned DJs in console: once you enter, the only thing you will want – besides a cocktail, ça va sans dire – is for time to stop, prolonging the night as much as possible.
Sunset on the sea is accompanied by a drink by the pool at Nikki Beach. An exclusive beach club on the terrace of the Fairmont Hotel, which offers an exceptional view over the curve of the Loews. Perfect for a cocktail at happy hour, continuing late into the night suspended between the sky and the sea, thanks to the dj-setting that animates the evenings.
RESTAURANT: LOOKING AT THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA, AN IDEAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE BEST CUISINES OF THE WORLD
The Mediterranean, the skyline silhouetted against the sky and the yachts that sail the sea: this is what you can admire from the eighth floor of the Hotel De Paris while having lunch or dinner at the Le Grill restaurant. A menu of land and sea, tied to tradition but influenced by experimentation. The magic that springs when the roof opens, reveals a warm and dashed night of indescribable stars that can only be the prelude to an evening to remember.
The Cipriani restaurant contains the kind of maritime atmosphere that its élite patrons prefer, declined in wood coverings and in the light that floods the rooms. It is customary for Italians abroad to carefully avoid Italian cuisine but the quality and raw material of Cipriani make it a must try!
Coya is beloved in Dubai and Abu Dhabi: how could Monegasques not like it? A twist on Peruvian cuisine, South American flavors enhanced by the alchemy of chef Fabrizio Fossati, to accompany the signature cocktails of the house. A forest from which to admire the Mediterranean, enjoying a colorful cuisine, preparing for the fiesta of the after dinner.
Close your eyes, the soft lights allow it. Imagine reopening them in an exotic land, savoring it. This is what happens to those who rely on Maya Bay, an apotheosis of oriental flavors. Choose the destination, Japan or Thailand: each corresponding to one of two areas in the restaurant. The atmosphere is vibrant and the senses are lost. The Monegasque splendor marries the Levantine charm, in the dishes and in the furnishings.
HOTEL: UNFORGETTABLE NIGHTS AT THE HOTEL DE PARIS
In the Place du Casino there is a staircase and opulent cars are proudly displayed at its feet. A bustle of women with cover dresses and very elegant men follow one another into the entrance, with the aura of one who has found his place in the world. That place can only be the Hotel De Paris, an institution recognized internationally, since 1863: Grace Kelly and Maria Callas frequented it, as did Aristotle Onassis and Salvador Dalì.
It is a hotel wrapped in a legendary charm, featured in every conversation concerning the Principality of Monaco: the novelty is the lifting made by architects Richard Martinet and Gabriel Viora, to present itself to visitors from all over the world in its most majestic guise.
The rooms are flooded with light, many of which have views of the sea as well as interior design elements and noble materials, for every possible comfort.
Three restaurants: Le Grill, where the eye is lost in the Mediterranean sea while guests enjoy the grilled specialties that give the restaurant its name; Ômer, placed under the aegis of Alain Ducasse, where you can discover the culinary side of different cultures, transporting guests on a gastronomic cruise; and Le Louis XV, where the cuisine of the Riviera is presented in a superb and inspiring way. Here the hand of Alain Ducasse is perceptible in every detail.
Enjoy live music and dreamy nights at the Bar Américain, with a ’20s atmosphere and where you have the possibility of wrapping yourself in a cloud with an unmistakable aroma, while choosing a cigar from the large menu. If the “James Bond approved” brand existed, this lounge would be the first to get it.
SHOPPING: LUXURY AND PRÊT-À-PORTER TEMPLES
Luxury boutiques are exhausted in Monaco, and often – even if you are just strolling along the boulevards – you have the impression of participating in a fashion show. Many of the Monegasques whose looks you are admiring are probably regular visitors to Pretty You, where the dresses of Zuhair Murad and Oscar de la Renta, in Monaco, are displayed in the windows.
K11 is a concept store with a very particular aim: the idea of fashion that dwells within these walls is for those who do not need logos to express their personality. Sophisticated and refined, the garments that you will find coexist with niche design objects and cosmetics, creating a space for which (still) they have not invented a definition.
For every further purchase, a trip to the Métropole is a must: under the majestic chandelier overlooking the rooms of this shopping center, even those who have always sworn to hate shopping centers will have to change their minds, noting their undisputed charm. Among the boutiques, we recommend a visit to the Society Club for today’s gentlemen: Balmain, Lanvin and Valentino are just some of the names you will find.
A flawless tip is to choose the weekend of 24/26 May for your Monaco trip: in those days the Monaco Grand Prix will take place, and the atmosphere around you will be even more thrilling!