New things to try, familiar places to revisit. Monaco is the gift that keeps giving.
Every summer, as Boulevard des Moulins gets really busy with throngs of visitors and fast cars, it is easy to comprehend why the small country-state remains a charming destination year after year. Balmy afternoons in April, just the right amount of sun in August, and crisp days in September, it is almost a prolonged summer escapade that makes you wonder why you should leave at all.That seem to have been the case for many a creative heads, sports personalities and some of the world’s best chefs including Alain Ducasse, who have chosen to make Monaco their permanent homes. While some of Monaco’s signature entertainment establishments will always remain a welcomed steadfast, the principality is constantly evolving to bring out the best in Riviera living. From the ‘organic-meets-wellness’ movement at the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel, to the ever-exciting exhibitions at the many museums, we pick some of the things to look out for this season.
The Dishes To Try
When in the Riviera, seafood and vegetables are the culinary stars. The micro-climate with more than three hundred days of sunshine a year ensures an abundance of fresh produce right in the hands of multiple Michelin-starred chefs who call Monaco home. At LeBlue Bay, the bashfully talented chef Marcel Ravin serves up the trio dish of Dublin Prawn in three ways; as a tartare cannoli, a dashi soup, and a South East Asian-influenced royal mousse. A native of Martinique, Marcel’s cooking is delightfully contemporary as he merges the vibrancy of the Caribbean with the Mediterranean. A must-not miss experience is at Elsa, the world’s first 100% organic certified Michelin-starred establishment helm by the chef with a heart close to Mother Nature, Paolo Sari. Paolo’s signature Bio Sama is a vegetable bouquet delight that changes daily to the tune of the fresh garden produce. A delicate Prawn Carpaccio is just the dish to set the rest of your day right. For the well-seasoned palate, head on to Le Vistamar for an unexpected pairing of Red Mullet with Asiatique algae, or for those who are looking for a little meat, dive into the Riviera traditional dish of Barbajuan with Rabbit.
Beauty Rituals to Get You Going
A little 3-minute R&R in a -110C chamber? Yeah, why not? It is, after all, the treatment that the top athletes in the world peruse for quick recovery and performance enhancement. Though the idea of spending even a short amount of time in an ultra-freezing temperature can be daunting, the cryotherapy treatment is definitely one to keep in your little black book of health remedies. First developed in physical medicine, cryotherapy is now offered to promote relaxation, reduce stress, improve sleep quality and jet lag symptoms, as well as to stimulate anti-aging properties in your body. One of the few places in the world to offer this service, Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo has a complex with two cold chambers, the first one at -60C to prep your body before entering the 110C environment. Extreme cold treatments have long been a practice with Nordic and Eastern countries so here’s your chance to indulge in the secret of their strength and vitality. Thermes Marins also offers an extensive selection of customised beauty, wellness and technologically-designed treatments for both genders, so be sure to stop by for a clean-eating meal at the spa’s L’Hirondelle terrace after.
Where To Stay
Monaco’s history is steeped in the influences of French Belle Époque, and Hôtel Hermitage is the perfect embodiment of this era’s opulence. Anchored by historical architectural marvels by Gabriel Ferrier and Gustave Eiffel, every turn in the hotel is like walking through time. Rooms are daintily appointed to French influences while special apartments and penthouses offer a modern touch with terraces for a lazy afternoon sojourn. At Monte-Carlo Beach hotel, it’s a convergence of nature with the sea, where no two rooms are the same after a makeover by interior designer India Madhavi. Charming mosaic tiles, rattan chairs and the occasional retro lamp give a mod funk vibe to the organic food movement property. But for the ultimate escapade with your loved ones, Villa La Vigie is the place to set yourself up during the easy living days of summer. Perched on the cape, the free-standing villa has probably the best view of the Riviera and was the home of Karl Lagerfeld for over ten years. A private driveway takes you into the residence with three floors, six bedrooms, four bathrooms and a jacuzzi overlooking the water.
The Monte-Carlo Opera, housed in the Salle Garnier, marks its season from November to April every year with an international roster of established and rising names in the performing circles. Salle Garnier itself is worth a visit to appreciate the heavily ornate Belle Époque interior and facade that was designed by Charles Garnier in 1861. Throughout the year, Salle Garnier plays host to concerts and events including the Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival. Learn a little more about the unique history of Monaco at The Nouveau National Museum of Monaco, housed in Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber. Modern works of art along with little gems from the past make for a great mid-morning break. The principality’s micro-climate also gives rise to the Exotic Garden, where lush gardens and plants come in gigantic proportions. Take a hike up the rocks for a scenic adventure of the cliff-side garden and visit the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology for some prehistoric artefacts. Venture into the Old Town, for snapshots of the Royal Palace, small artisanal chocolate stores, and a little oceanic discovery at the Oceanographic Museum where you can get tactile with some baby sharks. For the shopping-inclined, the new Pavilions at the Boulingrins Garden right in front of the institution Hôtel de Paris have just about all the luxury names you need.