Big City Tales

Monaco is Mini But Oh So Mighty | April 17, 2018

Covering an area of just two square kilometres in the French Riviera, the Principality of Monaco is the world’s second smallest country but, as the saying goes, size isn’t everything. Yes, Monaco is mini but this unique city-state is oh so mighty in many other ways.

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House of Grimaldi

Ruled by the Grimaldi family dating back to the 12th century, Monaco’s current royal leader is Prince Albert II, who is the son of famed American actress, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainier III.

When Kelly married her prince in 1955, the nuptials caused quite a stir around the globe. The “Wedding of the Century” was broadcast live and watched by 30 million viewers. Princess Grace and Prince Rainier started a family within a couple of years and were happily married until her untimely death due to a stroke in 1982.

Prince Albert II came into power after his father’s death in 2005. He is considered to be one of the world’s richest royals due to revenue earned from shares held in the Societe des Bains de Mers that operates Monaco’s lucrative casinos and entertainment properties. The prince and his family reside in the Palace of Monaco, which offers a daily viewing of the changing of the guard ceremony and a tour of the state apartments.

Millionaire Mecca

If ever there was a place that embodied Robin Leach’s “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” catch phrase, Monaco is it. Indeed, with 30 per cent of its population classified as being millionaires, Monaco is often referred to as a playground for the rich and famous. And, there are plenty of places to play at from the beach resorts to the yacht clubs to the high-rolling casinos, most notably the Casino de Monte Carlo.

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Monte Carlo High-Rollers

Gambling has been a major part of Monaco’s culture for over 150 years.  Princess Caroline, wife of Prince Florestan I, first conceived the idea to create a casino business in the mid-1800s as a means to keep the royal family afloat.

The task of carrying out the business plan fell to Prince Charles III who brought in experts from France to conceive an opulent architectural design and help garner sufficient investment funds to sustain the enterprise over the long term.

While the casino idea was not immediately successful, the royals continually tweaked their vision and upgraded the facilities in order to attract high-roller players and provide high brow entertainment. A concert hall/opera house, known as the Salle Garnier, was built in the 1870s and its illustrious design was based on the Palais Garnier in Paris.

Today, the gold and marble fixtures of the Casino de Monte Carlo complex continue to dazzle the jet-set crowd, and the casino has also become synonymous with the fictional character, James Bond.

Formula One Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix is one of Formula One’s original races and one of its most prestigious and difficult. The annual race is run on the Circuit de Monaco, which is noteworthy for its narrow passing lanes, tight curves, and elevation changes, along with a tunnel section.

Given the Grand Prix’s location in Monaco, the race’s circuit is heralded for its glamour and is known for its wealthy fans who gather in the harbour areas to watch the race from aboard their boats and yachts.

The Look of Luxury

With high-end boutiques, sports cars and yachts everywhere the eye can see, Monaco exudes luxury and glamour. It’s a prosperous and peaceful domain that may not be affordable to all to live in, but is certainly worth a gander to take in its grandeur.

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