Although the French Riviera remains the darling of the rich, famous and the fashionistas, but it’s about time we took another look.
You may be surprised (and delighted) to learn that there are pockets of exquisite beauty in – hold your breath – Monaco that are refreshingly affordable and well worth the visit!
Monaco Revisited: Glamour, Glitz and Completely within Reach
A plane trip to the pristine sands of Monte Carlo and surrounding areas is not likely to be on the low side, but if you avoid Spring and early Summer when the Grand Prix is underway and temperatures soar, you should be able to bag yourself a decently-priced flight if you plan well ahead (as far ahead as your airline will allow).
If you’re traveling Monaco on a budget, finding a bargain hotel might be tricky if you do broad google searches or go via travel agents. The rule of thumb here is avoid the main streets and the actual coast.
Rather, seek inland oases like Gassin or even nearby villages like Ca d’Ail which are home to gorgeous country houses that do not cost the earth – and with enough fine toothcombing you can stumble upon Bed and Breakfasts that are priced as low as €20 a night if you.
A handful of days in Monte Carlo doesn’t mean being obliged to have elaborate dinners and lunches. Go self-catering and take advantage of the sumptuous bakeries that lines every street for breakfast, with Monagasque twists on sweet treats like their Tresse, a plaited brioche filled with almond cream.
A takeaway lunch for the beach could be no more complicated than asking the boulanger to slice and fill a fresh baguette your choice of cold cuts, cheese and all the trimmings.
For dinners, browse the local fish markets and butchers for astoundingly fresh fish and mouthwatering beef. Coming to this neck of the woods certainly does not mean any kind of suffering when it comes to food!
Evening strolls along the promenade will give you the strongest sensation of really being in Monaco. The entertainments in the area range from local funfairs to elegant bars that are perfect for people-watching, but if you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, a visit to the Grand Casino of Monaco is a must.
A €10 entry fee will see you plunge into a 19th century themed casino hall with regularly hosted events, including the annual Poker Stars Championships that tends to attract all the industry celebrities (so even more people-watching, basically).
Another big event on the coast is of course the Cannes Film Festival where Hollywood’s A listers flock to debut their films before a global audience.
Tickets are available to members of the public but you will have to join a long line of hopefuls, so make sure your smartphone is charged or your company is excellent. Scope out a AirBnB for the night to save pennies, or hunt around for an B&B a few months in advance to catch the action without busting the budget.
The Grand Prix
In the same breath as Cannes comes of course the life and soul of Monte Carlo’s jet-set scene: the Monaco Grand Prix that sees the world’s fastest race cars zipping down the notorious perilous Circuit de Monaco.
The 3.34-kilometer course has been going strong for 77 years and promises $100 million in prize money. Buying a ticket will set you back a lot and ironically you won’t get to see much pressed up against the fence.
Scope out a paranomic view of the entire course for precisely no cost whatsoever.
You needn’t rock up to one of the world’s most glamourous countries and find yourself leaving significantly worse off. A little planning and lateral thinking will give you the dreamy experience you’ve been craving.
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