Monaco is one of the world’s smallest and wealthiest nations. The sunny tax paradise, nestled between the French and Italian rivieras on the Mediterranean coast, is known for many things. Lavish casinos, flashy Formula One racing and its wild royalty have all made headlines.
In the 1950s this miniature country and its prince made such a great impression on Oscar winner and movie star Grace Kelly that she chose to leave her life and career behind and become Princess Grace of Monaco. There must be something special about Monaco.
On my first visit to Monaco in the spring of 2002 I couldn’t find that something special. The weather was gloomy and the whole city – oh, I mean the entire country – seemed to be an endless flurry of hills, up and down, up and down. I think it was also some kind of national holiday, because absolutely everything was closed down. I ended up spending my glamorous afternoon in Monaco chowing on a slice of pizza, on the street, in the rain. Not a huge success.
Since then I’ve come to appreciate the ups and downs of Monaco and I’ve found its heart. Opulence is the word du jour. Luxury for the sake of luxury. The entire country is like a playground for the nouveau riche, and not surprisingly so – one in three locals are millionaires!
So dress to the nines and head to the casino to try your luck. Or maybe run down to the marina, find a yacht party and go skinny dipping with royals. Anything is possible in Monaco.