For a country half the size of New York’s Central Park, the legendary Monaco is 100% as glamorous. An escape from the winter months, it’s where you can roll like James Bond in your very own Casino Royale and feel royale in every other way. Monaco’s capital, Monte Carlo, is the weekend getaway for raucous nightlife, gorgeous people, high-stakes gambling and gourmet cuisine — all of which will make you feel like it’s good to be king.
When it comes to hotels, there’s now tough competition in the luxury market where the tried and true Hermitage and Hotel de Paris have dominated for decades. For a scene that’s fresh and chic, check into the newly renovated Metropole. Make sure to request the rooms designed by Jacques Garcia for their upgraded baths and room appointments. It’s from this vantage point you will justly feel right at home exploring this glamorous city.
Keep in mind that this is a small city, which you will that can be conquered in a day. Walk to the Monte Carlo Casino and Hotel de Paris, taking in the ornate and dramatic architecture of the exteriors which will more than impress. Save the inside tour though for the evening, where the scene will take on a dramatic turn. Stroll by the high-end shops and take in the waterfront views while admiring the yachts along the way. As the radio commercials you’ll hear make very clear: “Buying a yacht is a serious investment. “ Master of the obvious, it is.
As a monarchy, Monaco has a real-life castle, where its real-life royalty live. Hike up, take in the stunning views as you ascend to Old Town while wondering how such a beautiful, unspoiled place can still exist. The surrounding streets of the old city will have kitschy Ferrari jackets and paraphernalia for sale, but the Prince’s Palace and views from here are worthy of the excursion. Get lost in the side streets while soaking in the beauty of the private homes and regal atmosphere. You’ll want to experience French food so go big or go home and dine at Le Louis XV — the pinnacle of fine dining. Lunch is a comparative bargain if you go conservative on the wine, but with its gorgeous food and opulent dining room, it’s a once in your life experience. Spend the afternoon wandering the shops before returning to the Metropole for pool time and a much-needed massage after such a strenuous day. The Metropole’s new ESPA is the most lux and sumptuous in town; it would be a travesty to opt out of a treatment while here on your weekend galavante.
To describe Monte Carlo nightlife as chic is an understatement. The epicenter of the party is Buddha Bar, where many of the world’s most beautiful people are impossibly assembled all in one place. The scene is like theater where as the night unfolds the energy builds until it explodes into dancing on tables while waving your white napkins in the air. And although the food is not anywhere in the realm of Le Louis XV, the atmosphere more than compensates.
To continue the party, Jimmy’s is filled with spiky heels and long legs — a feast in itself for the eyes — where everyone is at least a tier-two model or budding playboy. It’s here you will dance all night with royals and wanna-be royals alike.
Monaco is perfectly situated for day trips to two of the most charming towns in the South of France — Eze and St. Paul de Vence. A trip to Eze can start with
breakfast at the hotel or you can have them pack up a most formal to go bag of coffee, juice and pastries for your road trip. Perched atop the Cote D’Azur, Eze is often a favorite for guys who enjoy old medieval streets and stunning views. The Jardin Exotique is where you will easily fall in love again if you’re not already there. For lunch head to the Château Eza, where the view only seems to get better, and indulge in a decadent meal. linger for hours, making the company of whomever you are with even more enjoyable.
Continue to explore the galleries and shops where the purchase of the sachets of Herbes de Provence and lavender will always remind you of this perfect afternoon. Before heading home stop by the Château de la Chevre d’Or to watch the sunset in the purple Cote d’Azur sky. The gracious staff will bring the most beautifully prepared canapés, the perfect accompaniment to your coupe de champagne.
If you are not tempted to stay at the Chevre d’Or for dinner, dine again with greatness at Joel Robuchon. Joel brings a fresh, clean perspective to traditional French food while giving a grand dining experience. From hand-selected caviar to its seasonal dessert surprise, this is what modern French dining is about. Enjoy the experience on the terrace if the weather allows. Try to win back the staggering price of dinner at the Casino, which although physically dwarfed by Vegas standards, will be one of the most elegant places to blow your wad. Entrée is free for guests of the Metropole, but make sure to get the pass to the VIP room.
Your second day trip should be to St. Paul de Vence, which if it’s a Sunday, will be full on open with its shops and many restaurants. This is where you will pick up souvenirs and gifts of the region from beautiful print dresses for your children to hand-harvested fleur de sel. Touristy it is, but you will love it regardless. Our favorite shops are L’Herbier en Provence and Pres du Puits for their famed herbs, Kalliste for absinthe and lavender and Liz Gibney Interiors, for well-edited home gifts. The antique shops will tempt you into buying beautiful quality French decanters and timeless pieces to pass on from generation to generation. Make sure not to miss Confiserie Lilamand for unique preserves and chocolate but try to resist the temptation to take one of each home. For lunch, dine at the Colombe d’Or and admire their extensive art collection while feasting on another gourmet meal. If you have time afterwards, stop by La Petite Cave de St. Paul, a hidden wine cave where you can taste wine with the owner and pick out selections for your own cave at home.
On your last night, stay within the Metropole confine and detox with Japanese cuisine at Yoshi. You’ll wonder if there’s anything the Metropole can’t perfect after eating what looks like art. And you’ll also wonder how you’ll be able to leave this surreal existence that you’ve had the good fortune to take. For Monaco is pure glamour where imbibing on triple magnums of champagne feels just right.