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Forever Glamorous by Merle Wilkening | 1st June, 2023 | Playground

Monaco has been attracting an international clientele to the French Riviera since the 1950s. In the summer, the casino, the royal family and the elegant lifestyle are particularly irresistible.

Just a 30 minute-drive from the Italian border and Nice Airport, and less than an hour from Provence in the south of France, the Principality of Monaco lies at the very heart of Europe. The royal Grimaldi family has ruled here since the 13th century and the present head of state, Prince Albert II, has reigned since 2005.

The tiny state on the Côte d’Azur is the second smallest country in the world – after Vatican City. It covers an area of just two square kilometers and has a population of around 39,000. Flanked by high mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco enjoys a Mediterranean climate, warm summers and an exclusive flair that acts as a magnet for international visitors. Those wishing to arrive in style, travel by boat from Italy or France.

Monaco is one of the world’s wealthiest microstates and a tax paradise where residents pay no income tax. Not surprisingly, the number of millionaires living here is high. According to a recent estimate by the Knight Frank consulting group, the mini-state is home to more than 27,000 people whose wealth exceeds one million dollars. That is two-thirds of the population.

Monte-Carlo is the largest of the principal- ity’s nine administrative districts and its undisputed landmark is the magnificent Casino – a gambling institution. In the Belle Époque building, which has served as a location for a number of James Bond films, experienced as well as novice gamblers wait for lady luck to favor them until “rien ne va plus” (no more bets).

On April 1, 1863, French financier François Blanc took over the casino and established the Société des Bains de Mer. His idea was to transform an arid plot of land previously used to cultivate olive and citrus trees into an exclusive gambling and luxury destination.

The concept proved successful and the inter- national elite flocked to Monte Carlo to celebrate the art de vivre in grand style.

Since that time, the Société has established itself as Monaco’s leading player in five-star tourism, bringing together prestigious hotels such as the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo and the Hôtel Hermitage as well as 30 restaurants, four of which share a total of seven Michelin stars.

It was in the legendary Brasserie Café de Paris on the central Place du Casino that, so the story goes, the flambéed crêpe suzette was originally invented. A chef was preparing crêpes with liqueur for the future Edward VII of England when the contents of the pan suddenly burst into flames.

The Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, a summer retreat dating back to the 1930s, has been reopened in refurbished splendor after a renovation carried out under the direction of interior designer India Mahdavi. Tucked away among the pine groves, the fun-loving establishment enjoys a prime location on the Riviera seafront. In its Elsa gourmet restaurant, chef Mélanie Serre serves up seasonal dishes made from organic ingredients and wild-caught fish. The hotel boasts an Olympic-sized seawater pool and a private beach, where the Mao- na Monte-Carlo open-air summer cabaret opens at the end of June.

IssueGG Magazine 03/23