Magnificent Monte-Carlo: An Elite Grand Prix Experience
Saturated in color and drenched in sunshine, while sea breezes mingle with screaming engines and smoking tires: Yes, it’s race season in Monte-Carlo! Sparkling like a jewel between France and Italy on the Côte d’Azur, the Principality of Monaco plays host to one of Europe’s premier social events of the year.
Like the magnificent vessels moored in Monaco’s harbor, Fairmont Monte Carlo offers sweeping views, impeccable service and a luxurious base from which to explore the pleasures of this exclusive region. Each year in late spring, celebrities, royalty and visitors from across the globe gather to immerse themselves in the thrills and splendor of the Grand Prix de Monaco.
The Race is On
Sip champagne while viewing the race from a pole position when you book a private hospitality suite, or one of the Grand Prix Suites with a view of the course. Suite terraces and the hotel’s rooftop terrace offer unparalleled views as the drivers navigate the race’s most harrowing point: the Fairmont Hairpin. If you’re a member of Fairmont President’s Club, enhance your experience by slipping behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 F1 convertible for a one-hour driving experience.
Create Something New
The Monaco Grand Prix begins with practice laps on Thursday, which gives you Friday to explore the charms of the principality. When you’re not immersed in race-centric activities, indulge your artistic side with a sculpting lesson from internationally renowned sculptor Mateo Mornar. Or take a 12-minute ride southwest to medieval Eze Village. The abundant blooming flowers and aromatic plants along its cobbled streets are one reason the perfume industry has thrived here since the 18th century. France’s oldest perfumery, Galimard, lies at the base of Eze Village. Take a VIP tour and workshop with a master perfumer who guides you in the creation of your signature scent.
Lunch on the Fly
If the thrilling speeds of the practice laps inspire you, have the hotel concierge arrange a Gastronomy Fly for your group of five. Hop aboard a helicopter to savor unforgettable views before enjoying lunch at Le Mas du Langoustier on the island of Porquerolles.
Dinner on the Ground
If you prefer a view with your feet firmly on land, reserve a table at elegant Nobu Fairmont Monte Carlo. Claudia Batthyany, director of communications at the hotel, recommends starting with new style sashimi, followed by black cod yuzu miso or rock shrimp tempura. Delight in world renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s specialties, mixing Asian food with South American spices and aromas, accompanied by vistas of the sea and the coast line.
A three-month stay in a Buddhist monastery inspired chef Paolo Sari to open Elsa, the first all-organic restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Nearly all produce is sourced within a 97-kilometer radius. Try bread that’s baked fresh twice daily and served with four different kinds of olive oil.
Witness waiters with trays held high sweeping past Belle Époque-style windows as you approach historic Brasserie 1900 in Café de Paris. The popular rendezvous point, reminiscent of old Parisian bistros, is the place to see and be seen, says Batthyany, “especially on the terrace.” Afterward, stop at nearby Morelli’s for a dreamy berry Pavlova or caramel nut gelato sundae served in beautiful Italian glassware.
Sensational Sipping Spots
Before heading out for the evening, enjoy a relaxing glass of champagne at Saphir 24, where large windows overlook the luminous Riviera. For the avant-gardist, a trip to Buddha Bar is a must. Formerly a 20th-century concert hall, Buddha Bar now invokes an exotic Oriental ambiance. Pulsing rhythms and electro riffs float on the air while guests sip signature cocktails under the watchful gaze of a giant Buddha, specially crafted in Asia. Restored and gilded pilasters and cornices gleam in the soft lighting, while secret dining rooms and sumptuous banquettes swathed in rich, ruby upholstery recall opium dens of old.
Ultimate Shopping Adventures
Those who are familiar with the heart of Monte-Carlo know that the planned renovations and new construction in Casino Square have resulted in futuristic, white pavilions known as Les Galets. The curving pebble-shaped structures are the temporary home of approximately 20 of Monte Carlo’s most elite boutiques. If you’re looking for the perfect ensemble to wear on race day, shop Miu Miu, Zendrini, or Balenciaga, which are tucked among the exotic flora of Boulingrins Gardens.
For an incomparable shopping experience, book a private showing of Monaco-based fashion designer Elizabeth Wessel’s latest fashion collection. Once your made-to-measure dress is complete, you might sit for a portrait in your frock; Wessel is an accomplished portrait artist.
Complete your look with a pair of Swarovski-encrusted ballet flats, suede leather mules or perhaps a pair of lacey stilettos from Mercedeh Shoes. The fashions are as exciting as watching drivers negotiate the hairpin turns from your reserved grandstand seat.
To arrange your customized Monte Carlo experience, contact the Fairmont Monte Carlo concierge.
Holly Bowne is a passionate travel writer and photographer. Her journeys have carried her from the Champs Elysees of Paris to the cenotes of Mexico and beyond. Her work has appeared on Everyone's an Original, You Go, We Go, and publications for luxury travel companies.