Monaco is often described as the jewel of the Cote d`Azur. As one of the smallest countries in the world, it is in the heart of the Riviera at just over 13 square miles in diameter. Monaco was designed with the rich and famous in mind, and it`s easy to see why James Bond frequented this beautiful area of land in both film and book.
Monte Carlo is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and has something for everyone. Whether you want to sunbathe, swim, golf, shop, or go to the opera, Monte Carlo can accommodate you.
While in Monte Carlo, spy out the royal palace of the Grimaldi`s on the Place du Palais. Or if you are in to sports, check out the Monte Carlo Golf Club. The course, at 2600 ft. above sea level, is short but challenging. From it`s tenth and thirteenth holes players can gaze at the beauty of the Mediterranean, the Alps, distant Italian towns and even St. Tropez. The adjoining Monte Carlo Country Club offers superb tennis facilities. From September through December, the Monte Carlo Symphony offers Sunday concerts in the auditorium of the Convention Centre. The best troupers from around the world are invited to perform in the International Circus Festival in December. The arrival of spring is celebrated with the Bal de Rose, whit one hundred violinists playing in a ball room decorated with 12,000 roses, where, it is said, champagne flows like water.
The Casino de Monte Carlo
Monaco boasts of having the largest and the most famous gambling establishment in the world-the Casino de Monte Carlo. Since it first opened it`s doors in 1863, the Casino has welcomed statesmen, royalty, international celebrities and her majesty`s most sophisticated secret agent, James Bond 007.
The Casino and its neighboring counterpart, the Hotel de Paris, are both owned and operated by the Societe des Bains de Mer (Society of Sea Bathers). In 1863, one of it`s members, Francois Blanc was asked to take over the financially troubled casino. Blanc is credited with turning the “Rock” as Monte Carlo was known in those days, into the fashionable and sumptuous resort visitors enjoy today.
Today, the S.B.M is a privately-owned company, regulated by the government. The taxes paid by the SBM go towards public works and supporting the principality.
In Monte Carlo, as anywhere where gambling is a major industry, superstition and legends flourish. The most interesting of these stories concern people who have “broke the bank”. One could never break the Casino itself, but, in the old days, each roulette table was assigned a fixed reserve of money. If a player won a table`s entire reserve, the “bank” at that table was considered broken and the table was covered with a symbolic mourning cloth until the bank was replenished.
In the summer of 1891, an Englishman named Charles Wells broke the bank not once but several times. In three days he turned 10,000 gold francs into a million. When he returned to England he found he was a national hero. Wells later returned to the Casino in November of that year and started winning all over again. The Casino management naturally wanted to make sure that Wells was not cheating and hired private detectives to watch Wells and the Casino staff for any signs of collusion. They found nothing. Unfortunately Wells squandered his forunte and tried his hand again the next year. But his streak of luck had ended, and he died in poverty and disgrace. No one has ever figured out the number combination that was the source of Well`s initial good fortune. There have been a number of theories: a coat check number, a room or restaurant table number, a specific date or a child`s age.
The American Room
In April 1979, the American Room opened in the Casino. Since that time it has been welcoming visitors from North American with comparable style gambling and an English speaking staff. (The staff members are sent to an intensive training course in Las Vegas) An ornate skylight allows daylight to filter into the room and the eight chandeliers of Bohemian crystal (each weighing over 300 pounds) provide nighttime illumination.
Gambling in the American Room is played with American rules. For example, the American roulette wheel displays both a double zero and a single zero. Each player is given different colored chips and players fix the value of the chip themselves. Minimum and maximum bets on other games are 25 and 2500 francs for blackjack and craps. In addition to the 4 roulette wheels, the room also features 12 blackjack tables, 3 crap tables, a baccarra table and 150 slot machines. The American Room is open daily (except the evening of May 1st which is Labor Day in France). The slot machines can be played from 10 am to 4 am. You must be 21 and over to gamble.
The European Rooms
For spies who prefer a more traditional form of European elegance, the Casino offers the European Rooms. The Salles Touzet (named after the rooms designer) and the Salon Prive (also called the Salle Medecin after its renovator) are open daily. The Salon Super-Prive is a small, ultra-exclusive room that is available only by appointment.
The Touzet rooms were built in 1889 and share three arches. The most striking feature of these rooms are the stained glass windows which portray the most famous society women of the late 19th century. The paintings that hang upon the walls of the Touzet are called “Folly” and “Fortune”. The Salles Touzet is open from 10 am until 4 am. It contains four European roulette tables, a trente-et-quarante table, and a punto banco/baccara table.
The Salle Blanche (White Room) is reserved for overflow crowds from the American Room. It is sometimes used as a salle prive for high-stakes games where the participants desire quiet and privacy. The Salon Prive (Private Room) was decorated in gold and silver in “Empire” style by Francois Medecin in 1909. A formal dining room connects with the Salon Prive, which is open from 3pm to 4 am. The Salon Super Prive is an exclusive room that has the rich look of natural leather and mahagony. It contains a single baccara table with a double layout. The Salle Prive offers five European roulette tables, two trent-et-quarante, five baccara/chemin de fer tables, and one banque a tout ba table. The dress code is formal (the American Room is casual) and the games are European versions (roulette does not have the double zero and the chips are all the same color). There are no slot machines the the European rooms.
Monaco Grand Prix
There are two major car races each year in Monaco: the Monte Carlo car rally in January and the Grand Prix in May.For over 50 years the Monaco Grand Prix has been regarded as the most prestigious motor race in the world. With the Principality of Monaco as the backdrop it is no surprise. The seductiveness of Monte-Carlo during the Grand Prix of Monaco week is like no other. Monaco is where the high rollers come to experience motor racing. http://www.f1-monaco.com/
The Grimaldi family has ruled Monaco for over 700 years, ever since Francois Grimaldi delivered her from the Genoese. Seven centuries ago, Francois Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, gained admittance to their castle. Once inside, he drew his sword and opened the gates, letting in Monegasque soldiers who seized the castle and freed Monaco.
The population of the Principality consists of 29,972 people , 5,070 of whom are Monégasques, 12,047 French and 5,000 Italian
The Principality is divided into five areas :
1) Monaco-Ville on the Rock, the old fortified town, with the Prince`s Palace, the ramparts, the gardens, the Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum
2) The Condamine, the harbor area
3) Monte Carlo, created in 1866, in the reign of Prince Charles III who gave it its name, with its internationally famous Casino, its great hotels and leisure facilities, some created recently : Larvotto beach, the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, the Boulingrins Gardens
4) Fontvieille, a great technical achievement with the filling-in with rock of 40 meters of water to produce a platform of 22 hectares supporting an urban, tourist and sports complex adjoining a yachting harbor and a pollution-free industrial zone
5) Moneghetti, the Révoires and the Exotic Gardens (on the western border with Cap d`Ail)
By air :
The Nice – Côte d`Azur International Airport is located 22 kilometers away from Monaco. Helicopter and bus services, taxis and hire cars provide permanent links between the airport and the Principality.
By helicopter (scheduled services or on request), the duration of the flight is 7 minutes.
By train :
The Monaco-Monte Carlo (SNCF) railway station is a stop for many international trains. The railway is a rapid means of communication between the Principality and all the localities of the Côte d`Azur from Cannes to Menton. By road :
The A8 motorway, which connects with the whole of European motorway system, serves the Principality by means of easy access roads (an exit A8 – RN7 coming from Nice, la Turbie going to or coming from Nice, Roquebrune going to or coming from Italy).
By sea :
The two harbors of the Principality, the Condamine (Hercule harbor) and Fontvieille, are equipped to handle yachts of all tonnages while intercontinental liners are able to anchor in the bay of Monaco.
Daytrips from Monte Carlo:
Roquebrune village : mediaeval castle, 6 km
La Turbie : Tower of Augustus, 8 km
Eze village : the Eagle`s Nest of the Côte d`Azur, 9 km
Menton : the Cocteau Museum, 10 km
Beaulieu : the Greek villa Kerylos, 11 km
Villefranche sur Mer : Jean Cocteau Chapel and Citadel, 11 km
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat : Ile de France Museum, 12 km
Saint Paul de Vence : the Maeght Foundation, 38 km
Antibes : Picasso Museum, 40 km
Vence : Matisse Chapel, 42 km
Biot : Fernand Léger Museum, 42 km.
–Some information provided by Thrilling Locations (Victory Games) and by Monte Carlo Online