Posted by on 01 Nov 2019 , in Europe
1. HELICOPTER EXPERIENCE
Our trip commenced with a truly sensational helicopter ride from Nice airport to Monaco. The flight set the scene for the rest of our trip: thrill, comfort and beauty. As you know it is winter at the moment in France, but with 300 days of sunshine per year, Monaco has a temperate climate (we were lucky enough not to need a jacket). The view out of the window was breathtaking. There was Monaco: standing proud along the Mediterranean coast, its striking historic buildings in direct contrast with the country’s tiny 2.02km2 surface area. We could just about make out the yachts sailing along the French Riviera, as the sun reflected on the sea.
The helicopter was brand-new and we were comfortable in our seats. It was the charming French pilot who welcomed us on-board. His role was two-fold; as he gently flew us over the bright blue sea, he patiently answered our questions over our headsets as well as an expert guide would have. Ground staff took care of our luggage at both ends; all we had to do was sit back and start relaxing!
A few tips to make your helicopter ride as perfect as ours:
• Pack your passport in an easy-access pocket of your hand-luggage as you will need to show it at customs;
• Do not wear a loose skirt to prevent it from blowing up as you walk across the run-way;
• Have your camera ready to take photos;
• Wear your headphones as soon as you board: it can get pretty noisy!
Upon arrival at Monaco Heliport, our organised transfer whisked us away to our hotel. We really could not fault the organisation of our outbound travel. It also helped that everyone spoke perfect English.
2. ULTRA-CHIC HOTELS
The real holiday could now start. In order to offer you the best advice on accommodation in Monaco, we visited 6 of the best hotels and stayed in 2 of them. Here is our view on each:
Columbus Monte-Carlo 3* - A nice modern hotel, with 181 large rooms and suites. The Columbus Monte Carlo is located in a quiet area of Monaco. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. The breakfast was especially worthy of a 4* hotel with a vast array of choice.
Tip: Book a deluxe room to soak up the sun on your own balcony!
Hotel Columbus Monte-Carlo
Fairmont Monte Carlo 4* - We were very impressed with the incredible range of amenities on offer at the Fairmont Monte Carlo. First of all, Saphir 24 (the hotel cocktail lounge and bar) was named as such because it is open 24 hours a day - ideal for us since our body clocks were still on Australian time! We also loved Happy Hour cocktails at NOBU restaurant as well as its delicious fusion Asian-South American cuisine. The hotel’s 602 rooms are large and offer ample space for luggage. Some of the rooms even have a view onto the Grand Prix circuit. And Nikki Beach on the rooftop offers plush, all-white sun beds to relax on by the swimming pool.
• Make sure you book dinner at Nikki Beach.
• Enjoy a Jazz brunch at the Saphir 24 restaurant every Sunday from noon to 4:00 pm.
See our exclusive packages here.
Hotel Fairmont Monte Carlo
Monte-Carlo Bay & Resort 4* (SBM) - In our opinion, this is the ideal hotel for families and travellers who like everything in one place. Boasting 3 restaurants (including Michelin-starred Blue Bay), its own lagoon and a sumptuous Cinq Mondes spa, the Monte-Carlo Bay & Resort has a very sophisticated ambiance. Another great perk is that all room categories have balconies!
• Keep one day free to relax and enjoy all the fantastic amenities the hotel has to offer.
• Book your accommodation with Monte-Carlo Bay & Resort and receive a Cercle Monte-Carlo Card with lots of fabulous advantages:
• Free access to Monte Carlo Country Club with 50% reduction on course fees. Includes 21 clay tennis courts overlooking the sea, 2 DecoTurf courts, 5 lit-up courts and 2 squash courts.
• Free access to Monte Carlo Golf Club with 50% reduction on course fees. The 18-hole golf course is located in La Turbie (in the heights of Nice) and offers spectacular views over the French and Italian coast.
• Free access to the Monte-Carlo Casino (instead of the usual 10€ entry fee) upon presentation of ID.
Monte-Carlo Beach 5* (SBM) - Delightful place! If you are looking for some quiet time (but still with the option to access the more animated part of Monaco by free shuttle service), the Monte-Carlo Beach is for you. Located on the outskirts of Monaco, the iconic 1920s building houses 40 rooms, all with a sea view. It is open from from March to October and we think is the perfect hotel for a romantic European getaway.
Tip: The peace and quiet, and limited number of rooms at Monte-Carlo Beach means that it gets filled up quickly, so make sure you book well in advance.
Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo 5* (SBM) - Perhaps the ultimate Monegasque luxury experience! As we walked into Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, we were taken aback by the elegance of the place. Belle-Époque décor fills the rooms and public spaces, along with high ceilings, chandeliers and beautifully displayed flowers. The winter garden’s glass and steel dome is signed Gustave Eiffel. Every little touch breathes splendour. Picture yourself in a soft, white cotton bathrobe indulging in the tranquil space of Thermes Marins. This hotel is all about experiencing the best of Monaco’s luxury scene. From the very moment you arrive to checkout, the attentive staff will ensure your every need is met.
• Book a harbour view room so you can wake up and see the sea. Savour Michelin-star food at Vistamar.
• Find your inner-peace in Thermes Marins.
• But more importantly, do not book a room only! Breakfast is absolutely worth the additional cost and part of the Hermitage experience.
See our exclusive packages here.
Hotel de Paris 5* (SBM) - Currently under renovation with some rare rooms still available for the lucky ones, the Hotel de Paris will fully be renovated in 2018. However, a limited number of rooms are still available so do ask us! This hotel is symbolic of the principality. Often described as a luxury palace, the large rooms have views on the Casino. We recommend you to get in touch wish us soon should you wish to travel in 2018, given the hotel’s popularity and even more now so due to its refurbishment. Whilst we impatiently wait for 2018, why not stay at Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo which is close by and equally as luxurious?
Tip: Plan early and reserve your 2018 holiday at Monaco’s Hotel de Paris which will have just been renovated.
Monte-Carlo Beach, Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo and Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort: Book your accommodation at any of these 3 hotels and receive a Cercle Monte-Carlo Card with these great added benefits:
• The card doubles up as your room key and credit card. That’s right: all your expenses spent within the SBM group can be charged to your card so you can easily settle everything at check-out.
• A 50% discount on green-fees at the Monte-Carlo Golf club
• A 50% discount on admission fees at the Monte-Carlo Country Club
• Free access to all shuttle transfers
• Free admission to the Casino de Monte Carlo (instead of the usual 10€ entry fee) upon presentation of ID
• Free admission to the Beach Club (heated sea-water Olympic pool & private beach, deck chairs and towels included)
• Free admission to the aqua-fitness complexe at Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo with huge heated sea-water pool, steam baths, sauna and cardio-training centre with scenic view.
• Free access to the sand-bottomed lagoon
• Free admission to the indoor/ outdoor swimming pool and Fitness centre at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort
3. HISTORY AND CULTURE
We set ourselves the challenge of using up all the tickets that came free with our ‘Passport to Monte-Carlo’. Monaco can easily be explored entirely by foot. A shuttle bus is also available to hop on and hop off for those who prefer.
There is no doubt that the Prince’s Palace was one of our favourite attractions as it truly embodies Monegasque history and culture. Built in 1191 and still the official residence of the Prince of Monaco today, we were taken aback by the grandness of the State Apartments, the Italian Gallery, the Main Courtyard, the Salon Louis XV and the Throne Room. A real must-see!
We loved the wealth of museums Monaco has to offer. The Oceanographic museum, founded by Prince Albert I in 1910, sits perched on the side of a cliff. No need to look out for the huge whale skeleton in there, or the imposing shark lagoon: they are unmissable!
Opera and theatre lovers are spoilt for choice (we treated ourselves to an evening listening to Monte Carlo’s Philharmonic Orchestra), whilst car enthusiasts can lust after the Prince’s Vintage Car Collection.
There is no doubt that if you allow it, Monaco will make you feel like James Bond thanks to its casinos (unlike no others). Find yourself in the sumptuous, 1920s style Monte-Carlo Casino trying your luck against anyone else but locals. That’s right, Monegasque are unauthorised to gamble in their own casinos…
5. FINE FOOD
Being so close to France, it is a given that gastronomy be just as important in Monaco. With over 170 restaurants, a lot of which are run by world-renowned chefs, we were spoilt for choice. A few highlights:
• Lobster at the Monte-Carlo Restaurant by Joel Robuchon (Metropole Monte-Carlo)
• Nobu’s eclectic Japanese-meets-South-American cuisine (Fairmont Monte-Carlo)
• The 100% organic menu at Elsa (Monte-Carlo Beach)
6. RELAX, REJUVENATE & INDULGE
You can always justify a spa day in our opinion, no matter what time of year it is. Monaco certainly have an array of lovely spas to choose from. We had the opportunity to go to these two (highly recommended):
• Les Cinq Mondes at Monte-Carlo Bay offers treatments combining traditions and innovations from Japan, Morocco and Polynesia.
• Thermes Marins accessible directly from Hotel Hermitage and Hotel de Paris, but also Free of charge for those staying at Monte Carlo Beach hotel. Work out in a panoramic sea-view cardio training room, bathe in a heated seawater pool or brave cryotherapy. You will have to book in advance for this experience which involves standing in a below freezing room for 3 minutes and will definitely help you through the jet lag! Entrance is 150 Euros per person if you are staying in other hotels. Discover a video of this amazing Spa here.
• Espa Monte-Carlo at Hotel Metropole. This spa offers a long list of treatments from facial to therapeutic and holistic as well as multiple activity choices such as yoga, running sessions and even boot camp.
• Fairmont Spa at Fairmont Monte-Carlo - Winner of the Monaco's Leading Spa Resort 2016 by the World Travel Award. You will enjoy spending time in this amazing 900² space with its 8 treatments rooms and personalised treatments.
7. FEEL LIKE A GRAND PRIX RACER
Fasten your seat-belt and head for an unforgettable drive along the coast in a flashy Ferrari or Lamborghini! French Travel Connection will help you organise an exhilarating tour, just don’t forget your driving license.
9. AROUND MONACO
Monaco is one of the most sought-after locations in the world. With France and Italy in such close proximity, we would urge you to tour around the markets of San Remo in Italy and France’s quaint hilltop villages such as Eze. Along the coast, Saint Tropez, Cannes, Nice and Antibes are beautiful and well-worth a visit. You can reach all the above by car, train or by helicopter from Monaco.
10. PASSPORT TO MONTE-CARLO
In partnership with the Monaco Government Tourist Office, French Travel Connection is proud to be the only wholesaler in Australia to offer the unique Passport to Monte Carlo. The Monaco Government is delighted to offer to French Travel Connection clients this exclusive passport to Monte Carlo. All you need to do is book any of the hotels mentioned above for 3 nights (or more!) and you will receive:
• A free return helicopter transfer between Nice and Monaco in low season (1 Nov-31 Mar)
• A free one-way helicopter transfer in high season (1 Apr-31 Oct), minimum 3 nights
• A booklet full of free entry tickets to Monaco’s sites
• A welcome gift at your hotel of choice