Monaco may be the world’s second smallest country, but if the French Riviera is Europe’s fashionable summer crown, then this is its most glamorous jewel. Perched on the shore of the gleaming blue Mediterranean and taking a sharp climb up the steep terrain of Mont Agel, Monaco holidays offer a haven for more than tax – expect shopping, sunshine and sporting events, but also fascinating doses of local culture.
The iconic Casino, with its plush turrets and palm trees, will be familiar to any keen Bond fan, and the Hollywood connection doesn’t end there. Literal Hollywood royalty Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier here, and they lived together in the opulent Prince’s Palace, which you can visit. Her 1955 film To Catch a Thief, co-starring Cary Grant and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, was filmed up one of Monaco’s long, winding roads. With its lush looks, it’s no wonder that the international jet set have long enjoyed holidays to Monaco and helped shape its amenities. Its warm, balmy summers and Mediterranean breeze don’t hurt, either.
Entertainment here is just as luxurious as the shopping and Michelin-starred fine dining, with horse shows, the Grand Prix and the opera house being the main draws of the city-state. But if your budget doesn’t stretch to all of that, don’t worry. There’s plenty of affordable French cuisine, and besides, people-watching the jet set and their yachts is a spectator sport all of its own. What this country lacks in quantity, it sure makes up for in quality.
Every year, Monaco’s winding roads give way to the high-speed chase of the Grand Prix. Throngs of motorsport fans, tourists and celebrity-spotters line the route.
The Lemon Festival of Menton is a celebration of citrus. The parade features lemon-decorated carnival floats, music, drums and dancers, all dressed up as – you guessed it – lemons.
The International Pyromelodic Fireworks Competition or Art en Ciel, which has been running annually for over 50 years, sees dazzling firework displays set to music.
Get your greenery
Relax and feel the Mediterranean magic in the Saint-Martin Gardens, which brim with local pine trees, holm oaks, myrtle and pistachio trees, set on a steep incline with fabulous views.
Rock around the clock
The Rock of Monaco is the city-state’s oldest area. Get lost in its winding streets and watch the changing of the guard at the Prince’s Palace.
Be captain of the ship
For a glut of gorgeously over-the-top vessels, the Monaco Yacht Show happens each September. But don’t worry if you miss it – the port will always be lined with shiny, big, luxury boats.