A paradise on earth that’s a little more than 2 square kilometres, where sun yachts and luxury cars abound and where some of the wealthiest people in the world choose to call home, welcome to Monaco. The Principality of Monaco and its famous Rock have something to dream about and it is real. The prestige and reputation of this attractive territory, enclosed in the French department of the Alpes Maritimes, extends well beyond its borders, so well in fact, that each day, several thousand tourists, both French and foreign, engulf the narrow streets of the Princely rock. An enchanting site that will no longer be a secret! From its most luxurious hotels to its emblematic Monte Carlo Casino, not forgetting its boutiques, restaurants, billionaire apartments, and its spots for relaxation and pleasure. For the moment, we drop our luggage and enter one of the flagship hotels of the Société Bains des Mer, SBM, the Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo. It is one of the most intimate palaces of the Principality.
Overlooking the Port Hercule, it offers a very luxurious atmosphere in a perfectly conserved Belle Epoque decor. The establishment is home to no less than 278 rooms, 76 suites and junior suites as well as 12 Monte Carlo Diamond suites. And with all self-respecting palaces the Vistamar and its chef, offer us an explosive taste of flavours. Located in the middle of the Carré d’Or, the Hermitage invites us to visit the surrounding on foot, where all the luxury boutiques are located. A quick two minute walk is all that’s needed to be face to face with the Monte-Carlo pavilions. Here, the most prestigious brands have their showcase, whether it’s haute couture, timepieces, or jewellery. From the top, the landscape is beautiful, especially with the famous Monaco square. Nerve centre of the Principality, the Place du Casino is surrounded by 3 mythical buildings: the Hotel de Paris, the Café de Paris, and the Monte-Carlo Casino where you’ll find many powerful engines roaring all day long. But while some people find real pleasure in smelling the exhaust fumes of supercars, others prefer instead to breathe the sea air. So we head over to the Larvotto district. Here, the roaring engines have been replaced by the sound of the lapping waves on the beach.
Between exploring the sea depths or walking along the Champions Promenade, there is always something to do. Unless you prefer to wander along Princesse Grace Avenue, where restaurants, car showrooms, and boutiques are located. On the way, we stop off at Loona. A very young ready-to-wear boutique that wants to stand out from the others. Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Gucci, and others have no place here. There’s no luxury at Loona, just timeless chic. We created a place to represent independent brands, we have even created our own brand Loona, which is also available in other boutiques in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Dubai.The clientele come here to find quality at a a reasonable price, here you’re not paying for a name, you’re paying for the creation. A 200 square metre boutique over 3 floors where leather, silk and cashmere blend together, on creations that go from the simple accessory to casual chic clothing, and of course, the must have evening dress… The most sought after are the dresses for the galas, because Monaco is well known for a lot of galas so you need beautiful dresses, long, and a little sexy. I’ve also started making dresses for little girls who go with their moms – it’s very cute, very pretty, and it works very well. Among the VIP clients of the brand, model, actress and TV personality Victoria Silvstedt. The Swedish beauty spent some time shopping here before heading to a photo shoot at the Sporting Monte-Carlo. Curious, we follow along….. Bye Bye Victoria… And now we head to lunch… On the way, we stop by the Grimaldi Forum, before finding new landscapes in the Japanese garden. This surprising 7,000 m2 green space is an authentic work of art harmoniously blending stone, water, and vegetation where a zen atmosphere reigns. A little higher up, on rue de Portier, we arrive at Sensais for our first gourmet pause of the day. Jean-Pierre Escande, the owner, is waiting for us, with the idea of having us discover new flavours. After running a hotel restaurant for 32 years in the Principality, the idea of Sensais took shape. The concept is simple, rediscover the real taste of seasonal products. The name was found by my wife, Sensais, the senses and the seasons, so it’s a mix between the two And it’s a bit of the theme and concept that I wanted to create – that of seasonal Mediterranean cuisine. We’ll try to work with producers, fishermen, and winemakers, to highlight them and put their products on our menu when the land and the sea give us the right moment. It’s a restaurant that is in perpetual movement.
In order to awaken all the senses, music, flavours, and products will change over the months and seasons. It’s the same thing for cocktails, wines, and champagnes, that will accompany this simple and minimalist menu, in order to favour quality over quantity.
The menus are scheduled to be changed, not necessarily every month but during the month, certain dishes will disappear to be replaced by others depending on all the products that we have. We’ll have a restaurant menu of about 14 dishes, desserts included. But not only that. We also have what we call the daily suggestions with 5 or 6 additional dishes. And we’ll also have, for the lounge, little sensais, little dishes where we can introduce our cuisine to our clientele. To each season its own products, and we must confess that we have done rather well during our visit. Between this square sesame bread, Italian cuttlefish salad with local citrus fruits, as a starter, and this Piedmontese potato as large gnocchi, comté cheese slices, roasted porcini mushrooms in Madeira and Catalan Picada, spread over two dishes, all our senses were certainly awakened. And what about this Middle Eastern salad with Shawarma and its mix of 7 spices…Or this salad adorned with sublime slices of of monk fish cooked at low temperature. There are, however, no seasons when it comes to real estate. In Monaco, in summer or winter, the demand for real estate is incessant and apartments are sold at prices that are sometimes… surreal.
According to the IMSEE, there were 33 sales in 2016 for a total amount of 453.5 million euros. The one we are about to visit is estimated at several tens of millions of euros. Discretion is required, the exact price was not told to us. It is on the 42nd floor of the Odeon Tower, the most luxurious and the highest high rise in Monaco, that we find Angela Kleiber and 2 members of her team. According to the owner of Lorenza von Stein Agency, real estate in Monaco still has many beautiful days ahead… Monaco is currently very fashionable, it seems that currently the whole world wants to settle in Monaco and thanks to buildings like the Odeon Tower we now have real luxury here with exceptional apartments that also represent the demands of real estate, in other words, very large spaces with breathtaking views of the principality and of course demanding customers who want the most complete luxury. There is the extension on the sea which is currently being created which will bring us more apartments, also individual houses (..) too have sea front villas in Monaco – it’s going to be a little bit of a revolution here. A nice little project indeed, but back to our billionaire apartment, which is for sale, in case you were interested. Almost 600 m2 of floor space and endless services… enough to meet any demand. The future owner will have no problem finding the Prince’s Palace in the distance, a must see attraction when you visit Monaco. Erected on a fortress established by the Genoese in 1215, the Prince’s Palace houses splendours that retrace seven centuries of uninterrupted sovereignty. Open each year between March 31st and October 14th, excluding Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend, the Grand Apartments are accessible to the curious visitor. From the Palace Square, there is a breathtaking view of Monaco. On the left, it’s Port Hercule that dominates.
On the right, it’s the district of Fontvieille that reveals all its qualities. But let’s look a little further… We cross the Monegasque border, and head to Menton, where we have an appointment with Marie-Olga Charriol, who is in the middle of a photo shoot for the new campaign of her collection of bracelets called Les Debutants… In front of the camera, the models are also making their own debut… The ideal is to take several bracelets that we put with each other (..) we call it Bangle Mania, it’s very trendy. The particularity of these bracelets is that they are affordable, this is your first pretty bracelet that can be bought when you’re 20. Bracelets that contain the DNA of the brand, namely these hand braided steel cables. Available in several colours, all you need to do is choose! We’re not sure what you think, but for us, this sumptuous residence with a swimming pool has given us a few ideas… We head back for a moment of pure relaxation…. at the Thermes Marins de Monte-Carlo. Spread over almost 6,600 m2 on 4 levels, the Thermes Marins is in fact a Spa and Wellness and preventive healthcare centre of the Hotel de Paris and the Hôtel Hermitage.
And contrary to popular belief, the centre is accessible to all, even non-residents. Any client, local, regional, who just wants to spend a moment here, 1 hour or to have breakfast, have a coffee or have a treatment, of course is welcome at the Thermes Marins. And as for what’s on offer? Like any self-respecting SPA, there are all the body and face treatments, which can be cosmetic, aesthetic or massages. but we are a little more than a Spa since we also propose a concept (..) of health or of overall beauty that offers not just a doctor who will give all their advice in nutrition and micronutrition, but also a complementary nutritionist. Equipped with, amongst other things, a salt water pool heated to 30 degrees, a hamamm, an outdoor jacuzzi, and even a cryotherapy unit, the Thermes Marin Monte-Carlo also has a restaurant and a fitness centre…..the perfect place to burn a few calories before the poker chips burn a hole in your pocket in the sublime Monte-Carlo Casino. A true work of art built in 1863 that we owe to famous architect Charles Garnier. A unique place, perfect for adrenaline addicts. The game rooms are admirably decorated with stained glass, sculptures, and incredible allegoric paintings. An ideal place to try and break the bank! From the Europe Room to the White Room and the Médecin Room, the emblematic private room of the Monte-Carlo Casino, the atmosphere here is extraordinary Built in 1910 by Monegasque François Médecin, this private game room houses the old elevator cage in cast iron that used to lead directly to the Cabaret. Still in perfect working order, today it leads to the Buddha Bar that has turne into an institution in Monaco since its opening in 2010. At night, many people come to enjoy its cosy atmosphere and cocktails, not to mention the finesse of its cuisine and its multi-influenced decor. Food and decoration are what counts for many people, but music also plays a lot in the concept It was an inspiration with my husband, (…) we traveled a lot in Asia, in Thailand, and as for the inspiration for the dishes, it comes from Hawaii. It’s a “World” concept because you can have tiles from Portugal, with furniture from the Empress of China, and next to it you have American and Scandinavian influences. Doors open at 5pm… And the vibe, that can buzz until 5 in the morning….. Understood… It is time for us to return to the hotel after this busy day on the Princely Rock… with the hopes that we’ve given you a few good ideas for an upcoming city trip…