Sure, it’s still a few months before summer kicks in but if you plan to visit La Vigie Restaurant in Monte-Carlo, you better start saving up some money now (this is no surprise, but everything in Monaco requires a few wads of cash).
Located in the Monte-Carlo Beach hotel complex, La Vigie offers exquisite Mediterranean inspired dishes in a tranquil setting. Chef Paolo Sari, an Italian who learned the trade in Italy, Switzerland and the US, specializes in seafood. We tried the buffet and grill during lunch-time and we can definitely vouch that this is one of the better places around. The meal is complemented by a grandiose view of the sea and an excellent selection of wine.
You reach La Vigie by taking a small path from the Monte-Carlo private beach, or, if you happen to arrive by yacht (damn, we are NOT jealous…okay a little bit maybe), the restaurant also has its own landing-dock where you can moor your boat. It’s a nice little amenity that is appreciated by the “floating villa owners”.
This small gem is only open two months a year (28 June – 25 August), so if you happen to be in the area on those dates, we can definitely recommend this elegant place for some great food and boat watching. La Vigie Restaurant will not let you down.
There are luxury hotels, and there are LUXURY hotels. Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo definitely belongs to the second group. We have written about James Bond in a previous hotel review but here it would actually be a disservice to our readers not to mention 007. With all the glamour and flair this hotel radiates, no wonder a couple of James Bond movies were filmed on its premises. In fact, it’s not hard to picture Sean Connery elegantly entering the lobby, charmingly looking around with glitter in his eyes before he sits down for a martini at Le Bar Americain. The hotel has also been featured in two additional Hollywood blockbusters, Iron Man 2 and Madagascar 3, while plenty of other movies have been filmed in the vicinity.
To be honest, we really couldn’t find anything to fault Hotel de Paris (what were we expecting?). The service was exquisite, quick, efficient and non-intrusive. The hotel, which was established in 1864, has “chateau-like” rooms that are beautifully decorated, spacious and offer everything imaginable.
In the evening, Le Bar Americain will entertain guests with some jazzy tunes and if you are up for a game of roulette (of course you are), the Monte Carlo Casino is located just across the street.
The hotel is a regular item on the Conde Nast Traveller Gold List and to sum it up – you will not be disappointed staying at Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. All your needs will be taken care of (for a hefty price, of course).
If you ever decide to visit Monte Carlo in Monaco, come well prepared. And we are not talking about passport, toothbrush and other obvious items. You have to be prepared money-wise. And we mean seriously well-heeled. Here is one example: breakfast at a cafe, including coffee, juice (sure, it was fresh) and croissant (not so fresh) for two persons can easily leave you 70 dollars shorter. If this doesn’t scare the h*ll out of you, go ahead and read how you can have an absolutely fabulous time in Monte Carlo.
1. Have a leisurely breakfast (until you see the bill) at Cafe de Paris. This is a trademark place for people-watching outside the casino. It is supposedly a venue where the rich and famous discuss the latest fashion trends and decide when and where to go for dinner but we call it tourist a trap.
2. Have a swim and enjoy the sunny weather at the Monte Carlo Beach. However, nothing is for free (at least not in Monte Carlo) and as the title suggests, we remind you to keep plenty of cash handy if you want refreshments, watermelon, wine and other goodies served to you. The entrance fee to the beach is 120 Euros. After a few laps in the sea, we suggest you venture off to the nearby restaurant La Vigie for a nice and relaxing buffet lunch while enjoying the view of the sea and the surrounding mountains from the terrace.
3. In the afternoon, visit the Monaco Oceanographic Museum, which, by the way, for 30 years was directed by explorer Jacques Cousteau. Enjoy the aquarium with some incredible species and take photos of the sharks (remember flash is not allowed). Sounds like only for kids? Then you should have seen us running around with big smiles on our faces (as if we just finished second grade).
4. Continue enjoying “Joix de vivre” (if you still have money left on your account) and have dinner at Louis XV – Alain Ducasse restaurant inside Hotel de Paris. A 3 star Michelin establishment that will make the most high maintenance celebrity speechless. A true delight (of course)!
5. Cap off the night by visiting the classic Monte Carlo Casino for some one-armed bandit antics, black jack or roulette. It is one of the best known casinos in the world, however, be warned. Don’t go here to try winning back all the money you spent on the beach, cafes and restaurants during the day. Decide your limit beforehand or just walk around and suck in the atmosphere. It may not look as romantic as you might have imagined (at least we didn’t see any James Bond or George Clooney look-a-likes dressed in tuxedos). The place is instead packed with tourists and the lights are on full blast. Not exactly cozy, but on the other hand, since when do high-rollers ask for cozy?
Bottom line, if you feel like partying with the rich and famous, in exchange for some serious money, don’t miss Monte Carlo – the place to see and be seen!
Where to lodge in Monte Carlo? Read our review: Hotel de Paris.
As you might have noticed, the Sam and the dunes team has been very, very lazy lately. In fact, we haven’t done many postings for the past two months. We are accusing each other for this but the one that is easiest to blame is…Sam. In the end, no matter who’s fault it is, we understand this has to be rectified. So we decided to start our dream vacation and update our travel blog regularly. The trip begins in Marseille and will end in Rome. In between we are planning to see St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monaco and whatever gems we find along the way. Bon Voyage and stay tuned!