Prestige, Glamour, Excitement…
Nothing quite encapsulates the extravagant culture of the Côte d’Azur more than the annual selection of events that takes place along its glittering coastline – from small-scale local and nationwide celebrations to international ceremonies, competitions and exhibitions.
The first signs of spring have begun to appear in the French Riviera and with it comes a non-stop programme of exciting sport events.
Tires coming off the rim of the 1954 Aston Martin DB3S
Mme Charlotte Casiraghi, M. Karl Lagerfeld, S.A.R. la Princesse Caroline de Hanovre, S.A.S. le Prince Albert II, Mme Paola Marzotto, M. Pierre Casiraghi et Mlle Béatrice Borromeo
Take the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. This spectacular event offers superlative tennis with the bonus of breath-taking views along the coast.
For a long time, Rafael Nadal, was the acknowledged king of tennis here. He won the title here eight times in a row. Since 2013, however, the crown has evaded him passing instead to Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic. Fans of the Spanish player were hoping he’d stage a comeback this year, but the trophy went again to the seemingly unstoppable Novak Djokovic.
This year’s event also saw the renaming of the central court to Court Rainier III Prince of Monaco. After the doubles match on April 6th, the twenty-two carabineers of the Prince’s troop entered the central court to the rhythm of drums to commemorate what was the tenth anniversary of his death.
CIRCUIT OF SPEED
Hemingway once declared “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games”.
Historic Grand Prix.
The iconography of Monaco’s love affair with cars has been formed in part by the racing posters that each year adorn the streets of Monaco.
Held on the 9-11th May, the Historic Grand Prix is the best place in the world to see vintage racing cars relive their glory days by battling it out with one another. You even get to see pre-war racing cars take their turn. The race follows the same course as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, along roads that haven’t been altered since the 1929 .
Grand Prix F1.
Regardless of what kind of sport you look at, there is a particular dramaturgy involved when racers speed around Monaco: good guys and villains, tragedies and successes, outrageous moments.
A split second’s loss of concentration carries more consequences than anywhere else in the world. Patrick Tambay, winner of two Grand Prix, commented on Radio Monte Carlo that the Monaco Grand Prix was, “The highlight of the season,” while Lewis Hamilton states there is nowhere else you can experience anything like it.
What could be more elite than viewing the race from your own boat in the harbour. Privacy and exclusivity are guaranteed.
And don’t forget, if you crave to see the sleek beauty of racing cars and supercars then don’t miss Top Marques. The champagne is already on ice to celebrate breathtaking, trail-blazing supercars.
JUNE LONGINES –
Global Champions Tour
The best international riders and horses will descend on the Principality to face challenging technical courses in one of the smallest arenas on the tour.
The magical back-drop of Port d’Hercule and the Prince’s Palace in Monaco sets the stage for the three-day spectacle of world-class show jumping. The Royal Family pays particular attention to the event as Princess Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, is becoming one of the best young riders in the world.
Last year, the Monégasque royal was victorious in the Longines Pro-Am Cup with her team mate Edwina Tops-Alexander.
The Beauty and Power of Water
Hemingway’s admiration for motor racing is understandable; his neglect of yacht racing is less easy to comprehend. Events in Monaco set the record straight where yacht one-upmanship is pretty well the order of the day.
Recent additions include the Palermo-Montecarlo Race, the Winter Series in Five Acts and the first solar yachting event – namely the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup (10th – 12th July), is one of the highlights of the yachting calendar.
Given Monaco’s geographical situation and relationship to the sea, it’s not surprising that the Principality’ Annual Yacht Show is the world’s largest showcase for super yachts (yachts of over 30 metres) and mega yachts (100 metres).
All the above events are arranged under the auspices of Monaco’s yacht club which boasts 1300 members from sixty countries.
Bal de la Rose
In the past few years, the Ball has succeeded in raising over 3 million euros for the children’s hospital in Monaco.
Monaco has always cast a spell on both insiders and outsiders. At the Rose Ball, titled aristocrats from Europe and Asia, diplomats from far and wide, along with the grandees and upcoming stars from the world of film, design and art, arrive in their finery to whirl the night away.
The standards of attire are forever linked in the minds of celebrity watchers and revellers alike with Princess Grace’s quiet elegance. It is as though the elite of today are determined to maintain the standards she set for them. This can be seen year after year, as the revellers seek to bring to life whatever theme has been decreed. Last year it was Constructivism; this year it was Art Deco.
The decorators and the organisers worked overtime to turn Karl Lagerfeld’s sketches into material reality. They put together a series of tableaux made up of 9000 roses, 100 square metres of hand-painted trompe l’oeil and 20 sculpted pilaster columns. Retro photographs were also used to summon up the spirit of the past.
Even the men get in on the act. The most flamboyant dressers normally wear an accessory to match the evening’s theme, as did the French culture minister did one year with a pocket handkerchief in the colours of Jamaica, to honour the ‘Soul Music’ theme. Conviviality and festivity follow the formality of the dinner. This year the star performer was Lily Allen. She rose to the occasion by wearing a shocking pink velour coat which was topped by a collar stacked full of 3D rose appliqués. As she sung, royals including Charlotte Casiraghi, Beatrice Borromeo and Pierre Casiraghi took to the floor.
The tombola, too, was exceptional. In a town famed for its gambling, every guest hoped Lady Luck might tap their shoulder. The prizes included a set of 12 champagne bottles, designer bags, a whole Chanel outfit, jewellery and the offer of being put up for three at some of Monaco’s most famous hotels.
The Louis XV dining room at the Hotel de Paris is aptly named. Indeed, the setting has an almost royal ambiance: soaring marble columns burnished with gold, a six meter high ceilings hung with glittering chandeliers, and satin drapes whose ornate flounces and brocade reflect light from the glittering scene.
This room is the centerpiece of what is probably the most famous hotel in the world. There is certainly something of Versailles itself about the whole building, with its ornate façade and grand salons. Like the famous palace of Louis XIV and XV, it has always been a place to which the rich and famous come to see and be seen. The list of illustrious guests at the hotel is long and impressive: Cary Grant, Salvador Dali, Charlie Chaplin, the Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill, Richard Burton, Sir Roger Moore and many others. It is therefore no surprise that the auction of all this famous hotel’s fixtures and fittings prior to a total recreation of the hotel’s interior would arouse considerable interest.
So, between 25th and 30th January 2015, 3400 lots containing 10,000 items went under the hammer. The money raised was €3.7 million, about three times the sum originally estimated. Given the number of items on sale and prestige and luxury of the hotel in question, it seems surprisingly little.
Two marble pedestals fetched the auctions highest price at €101,000, a pedestal table in the style of Louis XV sold at €51400, and an impressive Iranian silk carpet raised €41,600. However, most other items went for prices well below that. But there was at least one surprising sale: a photo of Winston Churchill beside his swimming pool at Chartwell – expected to fetch between €100 and €150 and finally bought for no less than €9100!
To put it bluntly, this furniture (much of it 19th century copies in the style of Louis XV) matters less for its intrinsic worth, but rather because of the number of world famous bottoms that have sat on it. Ever since its ceation in 1864 the Hotel de Paris has been one of the key places where prime movers in European politics have met to balance national interests, apportion territorial acquisitions – or losses – and plot the future of Europe. In many ways it was from the gaming rooms, spas and chic hotels in Hamburg, Wiesbaden, Baden Baden and Monte Carlo that these European aristocrats ran the world.
But their concerns were different from their modern day equivalents. In most cases they already had money, and in many instances had had it for generations: unlike the ‘beau monde’ of today, wealth and its acquisition was not their primary concern. These men (and sometimes even their wives and mistresses) were people concerned above all with politics. And this was possible because their world was one of national boundaries and of governments operating within them – whether effectively or not..
So, as the sound of the auctioneer’s hammer fades away and the furnishings and fixtures of the world’s most iconic hotel disappears into private hands, we seem to be witnessing, in a small way, what Francis Fukeyama famously referred to as the ‘end of history’. The importance of these items is much less the monetary value they raised in the sale; much more the extraordinary events to which they have been attached over the last 150 years. This is a history that has gone forever. Gone also are the values that were attached to it.
As politics of the new global world increasingly slips out of the hands of those elected to control it, we enter a world where the individual is increasingly the uncrowned king. The opportunities in a world without borders, for those lucky enough or clever enough to profit from it, are exponential. Whether this situation will continue, and if it does, who the main beneficiaries will be, are the great, unanswered questions of our time.
One thing we can be sure about. The Hotel de Paris, in its magnificent Monegasque setting, will continue to welcome the ‘haute monde’ of the new era.
Bal de la Croix Rouge
Lotus eaters, sybarites and sun-seekers descend on Monaco in the summer in anticipation of plenty of wine, sun and song. For them, the Bal de la Croix Rouge is a chance to be seen and preen with the added pleasure of knowing that this particular party is one of the highest fund-raising events in Europe.
For this the Red Cross has the star appeal of Princess Grace to thank. During her lifetime she was the President of Monaco’s Red Cross. Now her children have assumed the role.
Here’s what one curator had to say about her impact on the Monaco social scene.
“It is the elegance of Technicolor Hollywood glamour; the elegance of a woman in love who freely chose to alter the course of her existence, of a princess of one of Europe’s oldest dynasties, of a devoted mother and monarch who dedicated herself efficiently and unsparingly to her family and people; it is the elegance of her smiling reserve that so fascinated the media, her immensely sensitive and poetic lifestyle that retained its share of mystery, and her beauty preserved by its perpetually youthful charm. It is the elegance of the era that was hers and for which we all feel nostalgic.”
The Bal de la Croix Rouge is part of this inheritance. It is rightly seen as one of the great charity galas of the year. A place to have fun, and to make spectacular donations at the same time. Like its sister ball, years of practice and precedent have resulted in an event which purrs with efficiency and glamour.
Every year the efforts of the florists and decorators transform the Salle des Etoiles into a wonderland of flowers. For example, in 2014 one of the first surprises that greeted the revellers was to find that mirrors had replaced the customary linen tablecloths. This gave rise to a sensation of an endless display of rose and geraniums reflected throughout the venue.
Protocol and ritual rule. Once everyone has arrived and had their photo taken at the top of the stairs, the tombola is drawn. The meal that follows must titillate a guest-list used to the many Michelin chefs who practice in Monaco. Finally the real revelry begins. Dancing and a firework spectacular… This is always started by Prince Albert taking to the floor.
The opulence of the occasion, the jewels on display is only matched by the quality of the performers. The list of famous stars invited to strut on stage is like reading an almanac of fame. Julio Iglesias, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Josephine Baker, Elton John have all played at the gala.
Last year was as glamour-fuelled as ever. The Zhang Zhang Band had everybody roaring with approval as they performed a wide repertoire of classic, jazz, swing, flamenco, bossa nova and tzigane.
The money raised last year was sent to help rebuild the Philippines and to support a variety of food programmes. The committee also approved a project aimed to improve the lives of miners on the Ivory Coast – the suggestion for which came from Dominque Ouattara, the wife of former Ivorian Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara.
I use HOTEL METROPOLE as my “office” and “canteen”. 4, Av de la Madone 98 000 MONACO / Tel 00 377 93 15 15 15
I love the Michelin starred Robuchon restaurant. The cuisine is exceptional. Last time I bought my Chinese clients to YOSHI (The Japanese restaurant of Metropole Hôtel) as well. Try the black cod. Tel : 00 377 93 15 13 13.
I happen to be mad about shoes so I always glance at the window front of Louboutin. 1-3-5- Av De Grande Bretagne Les Floralies Monaco. Tel : 00 377 97 98 7812 or MERCEDEH au Métropole 17, Avenue des Spélugues 00 377 93 50 57 70 . However if you want comfort and great value, then I recommend Stuart Weizmann (Métropole 17 Av Des Spélugues 00 377 97 70 53) as well. Because Monaco is small, it’s easy to know every good shop. You can find dream dresses in PRETTY YOU, 5 Av Princesse Alice Monaco /Tel00377 97 70 48 08; I always ask my friend Evelyne from the boutique Celine Place du Casino / Tel 00 377 93 30 92 78 to help me make the right choice. I love the elegance of Valentino’s gowns 7, Av de Monte Carlo Tel / 00 377 93 25 12 63.
On the 28th of March, I attended the Bal de la Rose with my family and friends, as I have my table here every year. Karl Lagerfeld has done a great work for the decoration and the staging. Altogether, it was a wonderful evening: the only disappointment came from the fact that Charlene was not there. (Bal de la Rose SBM 00 377 98 06 63 41). I like also the Yacht show in Monaco as it is the most beautiful yacht show of the world: one can stand and dream of owning one of the super mega Yachts – even if for me it is an unrealizable ambition . (September 23/26 2015 Tel 00 377 93 10 41 70)
Jack Nicholson, said to me one day ” Julia you live in a Golden Alcatraz” and I replied “ Yes it’s true but with a lot of advantages! ”
Here are the restaurants that I particularly love to eat out at.
1. CIPRIANI s a wonderful venue for dinner. It also is a good place to have a brunch with family and friends on Sundays.
2. Maya Bay is excellent, it’s where you get brilliant Thai and Japanese food. I’d say the best in Monaco. The ambiance is also fantastic. The décor is chic, yet intimate. Good for lunch and worth a lovely place for a leisurely dinner.
3. Sass Cafe the food is understated but good. I think the vibe is fantastic. If you like music then there is always a DJ on hand and live music. It’s a brilliant way to boost endorphins and to recharge. Many of Monaco’s elite come here – although it’s also a place where tourists come. Expect the party to run on well into the morning.
4. NOBU at Fairmont and Joseph from Saint Tropez are relatively new to Monaco. They are both good. Each has a strong personality and excellent cuisine.
Down in the Port, I suggest you go to Joseph is in the Port. They have a lot of live acts and currently it’s considered to be one of the best places to party the whole night away.
5. If you are a brunch person, then I recommend Monte Carlo Bay. They provide a huge buffet with an incredible range of desserts. It’s also brilliant for kids because of the all year round pool.