Monte Carlo Travel Guide
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We're now less than a month away from what some consider the social and sporting event of the year: the Monaco Grand Prix. This Formula One car race through the winding, ridiculously picturesque streets of the capital Monte-Carlo brings the world's richest people together with Formula One's biggest fans and best drivers for a weekend in the Mediterranean sun.
There will be yachts and there will be caviar and champagne will all the exhaust, but there will also be airfare/hotel deals, too. Specifically we found some combo trips that Emirates is doing, which start at £1360 per person if you're cool with sleeping at the Holiday Inn over in Nice, France. For 4 nights at the Fairmont Monte-Carlo, plan on something closer to £3000 per person. Luckily these prices include grandstand tickets for the races from March 27-30, Paddock Club passes, helicopter or boat transfers, "hospitality" at the Hotel de Paris and Amber lounge party tickets.
A must-do that we heard repeatedly when visiting Monte Carlo was the Musee Oceanographique de Monaco simply because folks told us it has the best aquarium in the world. Since we love fish, we decided to fork over the 13 Euro entrance fee and see for ourselves.
We happened to go during an interesting time at the museumshock artist Damien Hirst had set up his traveling exhibit here, titled Cornucopia. This struck us as absolutely strange. Yes, Hirst is best-known for his morbid shark-in-formaldehydes, but his other paintings and installations (not to mention his butterfly "collection"), didn't seem like a good fit for an old-timey, somewhat fading royal museum, begun way way back by Prince Albert Rainier, the 1st.
You know, we don't get to talk about The Principality of Monaco enough. It's been a while since we last tripped over the postage stamp-sized country, but we're thinking it could be about time to return, especially if they're talking about doing direct connections between helicopters from Monaco and flights from Nice International Airport.
The news comes from HeliAir Monaco, who already keep the waterfront buzzing with 70,000-100,000 per year at the heliport. Currently, you can take a helicopter from Monaco to the Nice Cote d'Azur Airport in six minutes, but you've then still got to check into your flight and go through security. HeliAir is however renovating their heliport and in the final stages of making it possible to check in and clear security at the heliport, allowing you to go straight into the departure lounge for your flight from Nice.
We once did this with the old Wall Street-to-JFK helicopter service for a Delta flight, and it hearkens all the way back to the days when Pan Am flew upper class passengers from the top of their Midtown HQ direct to their waiting flights at JFK. But we're not talking about JFK; this is Monaco. Thus, we're surprised they haven't already had this in place. The price of a one-way flight from Monaco to Nice Airport now? 103 Euros.
[Photo: HeliAir Monaco]
File this item under "uncomfortable coincidences": the developers of the famed Hotel Byblos and St.-Tropez club plan to open an upscale nightclub in Monte Carlo, Monaco, with a theme of great African American musicians. To be called "Black Legend," the club will serve tapas all day while featuring impersonator acts singing soul, funk and pop music, but with a focus on the Motown greats.
Speaking from experiencewink winkwe can vouch for the fact that in Monaco, most of the nightlife happens either onboard a yacht or in a high-rise swanky condo, not in clubs or bars since the daytrippers and tourists take over those. Nonetheless, we don't doubt that "Black Legend" will be a success, considering the French disposition to old African American cabaret acts; they did raise Josephine Baker and more to stardom with the US would have none of it.
The club, due to open this October, should have plenty time to hone its Michael Jackson memorial act and more before the famed Monaco Grand Prix rolls back into town next May.
Last one in's a rotten egg! We're finding the best places in the world to stick our toes in this summer (or next winter) for our World's Coolest Pools map. Know of any pools we must check out? Let us know.
We've always associated Monte Carlo with monokinis and James Bond (not necessarily together), so it doesn't surprise us that the most glamorous tax shelter in the world also boasts a few spectacular pools. A tipster wrote in about the Fairmont Monte Carlo pool and, well, we're cashing in all our chips the next time we happen to be in the neighborhood.
Opened in 1975 as the Loews Hotel Monte-Carlo, with a heating and air-conditioning system that uses the natural temperature of the Mediterranean, the Fairmont has an embarrassment of riches in the arena of ocean views. Which is good, if you believe commenters like a Tripadvisor vet who says the property should "shoot the room decorator" for the still-dated-after-all-these-years renovation.
Who knew Prince Albert of Monaco was such a music buff? The ceremonial head of state also oversees his own awards show, which took place over the weekend in Monte Carlo. Above, he lives the dream of every teenage boy in America and cozies up to Rihanna, who performed at the awards where Celine Dion and Patti LaBelle picked up career achievement prizes.
Europe played host to another awards show this weekend as the MTV Europe Awards were held in Munich, Germany. Avril Lavigne took home Artist of the Year, Amy Winehouse acted completely weird onstage and host Snoop Dogg wore lederhosen--something we dearly wish we had caught in person.
[Photo: The Sun]