Living

An Insider's Guide To Monaco

by Benoît Badufle
27.02.2017
A comprehensive guide on where to go and what to do in the luxury capital of the French Riviera

With its posh hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, and ubiquitous display of super cars, Monaco is incontrovertibly the playground for the rich and famous. Monte-Carlo – its world-famous district and epicentre – has sealed its status as one of the largest and most concentrated luxury retail spots in the entire world.

There is a little bit of everything for everyone in Monaco – albeit with a curated flair. Planning on attending a celebrity-packed fundraising gala? Looking for a bespoke accessory to bring home? Or on the hunt for something inexpensive while on holiday? Fret not: indulgence can take in all shapes and forms in Monaco and meet all budgets.

Arrive in style

At Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport, Monacair’s counter is located outside the baggage delivery room. The door-to-door exclusive service takes you to your hotel in just 20 minutes – including a private car transfer and an unforgettable seven minute flight with unspoilt views of the French Riviera and the alps. If you fly back to Asia after your sojourn in Monaco, the helicopter transfer also gets you a private check-in at Nice Cote d’Azur airport, away from the queues and the crowds.

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Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo
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Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo
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Monte Carlo Beach Hotel

Stay

In the winter: ladies always fall in love with the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. This Belle Epoque hotel is indeed one of the most beautiful in the entire region, with many of its large, uber classy rooms commanding amazing views of the sea, the harbour, and the Princely Palace. The staff is discreet, friendly and best of all, the hotel is located in the very heart of Monte-Carlo, with the Grand Casino and the Opera House just at a stone’s throw away.

In the summer: If you have the foresight to book before April, then you may be lucky enough to secure a room at the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel. Situated on the edge of Monaco, this Riviera-style jewel from the 1930’s boasts spacious rooms, large terraces (all with gorgeous sea views over Monte Carlo), a one Michelin Star all-organic restaurant (Elsa), and the most chic beach club in the region.

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Place du Casino, Golden Circle
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Louis Vuitton
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Metropole Shopping Centre
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Shopping in Monaco

Shop

The first stop on your shopping expedition is the Golden Circle, an area comprising Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, the Park Palace, the gardens of the Casino and its pebble shaped Pavilions, the Metropole Shopping Center, the Grand Casino, and the Hotel de Paris. All the elegant shops are located in this absolutely walkable perimeter, filled with luxury goods and prestigious brands.

The Metropole Shopping Center is situated across the gardens of the Casino, under the eponymous Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, one of Monaco’s legacy palace hotels. Spread out over three floors are 80 boutiques, six restaurants, and a selection of seasonal pop-up exhibitions. With many international brands but also more bespoke ones, it is certainly the most eclectic of all. Ladies will love the selection at Valentino Red and Mercedeh's collection of elegant shoes. Founded in Monaco in 1982, APM Monaco specialises in silver and has surprisingly affordable collections. Don’t forget to stop by La Manufacture de Monaco, known for its luxury quality porcelain distinguished by being very white, hard and translucent.

Pretty You Monaco, a 100-metre walk above the Metropole, offers some of the most prestigious couture brands including Zuhair Murad, Oscar de la Renta, Giambattista Valli, Jitrois, Reem Acra and many more. Another 100 metres up after the Tourist Office is the Park Palace Shopping Centre, which has a more subdued elegance, favored by locals. Do not miss the K11 concept store, a treasure trove of the latest fashion trends and fabulous one-of-a-kind gifts. If glasses and sunglasses are must-have accesorries, check out the Opticien Createur shop and its curated collection of bespoke and handmade spectacles by the likes of Anne & Valentin from Toulouse, Ralph Vaessen, Japanese legacy brand Masunaga, and many others.

Venture a little outside of the Golden Circle and you will find more bespoke and affordable shops but with a Monaco twist. Near the beach area, 39 Avenue Princess Grace is home to The Bahia Palazzo where ladies come all the way from other parts of Monaco to shop. Adonis carries the latest designs from designers such as Balenciaga, D&G, while Dunes is an exclusive retailer of Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, plus a selection of other niche brands such as Karen Millen. The Bahia is also home to the super exclusive Club 39, which houses a chic beauty parlour, the most amazing private gym in Monaco, and a restaurant by the beach. One boutique worth visiting is Bandita on Boulevard des Moulins – it carries beautiful evening dresses and cocktail attire perfect for attending Monaco’s Rose Ball. Our last find is Le Dressing, a little vintage shop great for bargain-hunting, nestled just behind Boulevard Albert 1er, on Rue des Orangers.

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Yoshi by Joel Robuchon
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Elsa
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Chocolate Bar by Joel Robuchon
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Chocolate Bar by Joel Robuchon
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Bar Americain

Eat

Monaco has no shortage of award-winning dining options. Le Pinocchio, on Square Bosio of Monaco Ville, is one such place. The charming spot offers a scrumptious squid salad and taglioni alle vongole and boasts a devoted royal clientele: Prince Albert and Princess Charlene can sometimes be spotted there, enjoying a meal incognito. After opening ‘eat juice’ in 2012, Monaco’s slow food pasionaria Madeleine Badia struck again in 2014 with L’Inattendu, the principality's first raw food restaurant. For fans of top-notch Japanese cuisine, Yoshi by Joel Robuchon is an absolute must-visit. Tucked away in Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo, this stylish restaurant offers an amazing bento at only 39 Euros. Other options include Elsa at the Monte-Carlo Beach, where Chef Paolo Sari uses only locally-sourced 100% organic ingredients, the only such restaurant to be awarded a Michelin Star.

Hankering for a pre-dinner Spritz Aperol while listening to live jazz? Head to Bar Americain of the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo. These plush armchairs once accommodated celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, and Marc Chagall. Chocolate therapy awaits at the Chocolate Bar, the only dessert spot on the French Riviera that serves up jaw-dropping pastries and creations by world-famed chef Joel Robuchon at the Metropole Monte-Carlo Hotel.

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Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo
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Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo
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Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo

Pamper

After all that shopping, wining, and dining, it’s time to give yourself some much-needed TLC.

With more than 150 years in the area of personal well-being, Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo is the largest facility in the south of France offering sea water based treatments. It boasts a beauty salon overlooking the yacht harbour and a spa with the most incredible menu of dry and sea water based treatments. Its high-tech equipment is second to none and includes the cryotherapy which is said to aid relaxation, reduce stress, improve sleep disorders, and improve jet lag symptoms. And if you're keen for a new hairstyle to go with the stunning dress acquired a few hours ago, be sure to book an appointment at Eric Zemmour Beauté Prestige, the lengendary hair salon frequented by Monaco's rich and beautiful. 

This article is contributed by the Monaco Government Tourist Bureau Asia Office.

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