Friday, 3 February 2012

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo/Monaco

Monte Carlo, famous for her hotels, casinos, glamour and celebrity sightings, is not the capital of Monaco. If this surprises you, you are not alone. Although Monte Carlo is located in Monaco, Monaco does not have a capital. 
Monte Carlo is an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco.  The permanent population is about 15,000 in Quarter. Monte Carlo quarter includes not only Monte Carlo proper where the Le Grand Casino is located, it also includes the neighbourhoods of Saint-Michel, Saint-Roman/Tenao, and the beach community of Larvotto. It is also one of Monaco's 10 wards, with a population of 3,500. It borders the French town of Beausoleil.

Click Here for Monte Carlo Travel Guides

Monte Carlo is famous throughout the world as a host of many top sporting events, the highest profile of which is, of course, the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix . It also hosts world championship boxing bouts, the European Poker Tour Grand Final and the World Backgammon Championship as well as fashion shows and other events. Although the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament is billed as taking place in the community, its actual location is in the adjacent French commune of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. The Monte Carlo Rally is one of the longest running and most respected car rallies; from 1973 to 2008, it marked the start of each rally season as the first event on the World Rally Championship calendar, but is now part of the second-tier Intercontinental Rally Challenge. However, the rally takes place outside the Monte Carlo quarter.

Monte Carlo is one of Europe's leading tourist resorts, although many of the key tourist destinations are located in other parts of Monaco, including such attractions as Monaco Cathedral, the Napoleon Museum, the Oceanographic Museum and aquarium, and the Prince's Palace, all of which are located in Monaco-Ville. 
Tourism is Monaco's main source of income and is one of the most expensive places to visit. Real estate in Monaco and Monte Carlo is also some of the most expensive in the world.

Monaco is the world's most densely populated country at nearly 34,000 residents in only a square mile. It is also the second-smallest independent nation in the world. Monaco is the world's smallest French speaking nation.

The pier on the harbour was extended in 2001 to accommodate large cruise ships. Cruise ships bring a vast number of tourists to Monte Carlo every year. 

Hotel de Paris and Casino
Despite its small size, Monaco has the longest ruling royal family in Europe. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco for over 700 years, beginning in 1297, when Francois Grimaldi seized the fortress protecting Monaco. Legend has it that he dressed as a monk, and because of his disguise, he was able to overcome the opposing troops. This event is so important in Monaco's history that it is depicted on their coat of arms. After the French Revolution of the 1700's, the Grimaldi family was exiled for over 20 years. They returned following the Treaty of Paris.
During the 20th century, Monaco was ruled first by Prince Albert I then, starting in 1922, by his son Prince Louis II. Unsuccessful in his attempts to keep Monaco neutral during World War II, the country was occupied first by the Italians, and later by the Germans. Eventually Monaco was liberated by the Allied forces.

Prince Rainier III became ruler of Monaco in 1949, succeeding his grandfather, Prince Louis II, after his mother, Crown Princess Charlotte, renounced her right to succession in favour of her son. Prince Rainier worked diligently to repair the war-torn country and expand her interests beyond gambling. Indeed, Prince Rainier succeeded in making Monaco a leader in banking, financial services, and other business.

In 1956, Prince Rainier brought international interest to the tiny country when he married American actress Grace Kelly. Fascination with Monaco only increased as three children were born to the couple: Princess Caroline in 1957, followed by Prince Albert II in 1958, and Princess Stephanie in 1965.

Tragically, Princess Grace died in a car accident in 1982 at the age of 52. Princess Stephanie was seriously injured in the same crash. Physically recovered, she has admitted that the crash still haunts her.

Prince Rainier died in 2005 at the age of 81, after 50 years as the country's well-loved ruler.
Internationally known for their independent thinking and perseverance in the face of adversity, the Grimaldi family is as much a part of Monaco as the rock on which the country is built. For over 700 years, they have enjoyed a close relationship with the people they rule, and this unique and fascinating relationship will undoubtedly continue for generations to come.

Monte Carlo’s Top 5:
Note: For the purposes of this blog, Monte Carlo and Monaco attractions have been included
Casino Square & Gardens
  1. Salle Garnier.   The Opéra de Monte-Carlo or Salle Garnier was built by the architect Charles Garnier as an exact replica in miniature of the Paris Opera House. The auditorium of the opera house is decorated in red and gold and has frescoes and sculptures all around the auditorium. It was inaugurated on January 25, 1879 with a performance by Sarah Bernhardt dressed as a nymph. The first opera performed there was Robert Planquette's Le Chevalier Gaston on 8 February 1879, and that was followed by three more in the first season.
  2. The Hôtel de Paris. Opened in 1863 as part of the development of Monte Carlo by the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) under the auspices of Charles III of Monaco. It is a luxury hotel at the heart of Monte Carlo and is owned and operated by SBM, along with the Hotel Hermitage, the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel and the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. It has notable restaurants, including the Michelin 3-star Louis XV and Michelin-starred Le Grill, as well as the Le Bar Americain.  The hotel has 106 rooms divided into four groups based on type of view, decoration and luxury. The Exclusive City View offers 20 rooms, the Superior Courtyard has 29 large rooms, the Exclusive Sea View has 59 and the Exclusive Casino has six. Additionally there are 74 suites and junior suites which are grouped similarly, offering more luxury than the regular rooms. There are single and double suites as well as Courtyard Junior suites and Sea/Casino Junior suites. There is also a Presidential suite.
  3. Monte Carlo Casino More than just an internationally renowned casino, the building also includes  the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo Casino is owned and operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a public company in which the Monaco government and the ruling family have a majority interest. The company also owns the principal hotels, sports clubs, foodservice establishments, and nightclubs throughout Monaco.
  4. The Cathedral of Monaco.  Built with white stones from La turbie, this Roman-Byzantine cathedral is the burial site former Princes. The cathedral houses a magnificent altarpiece by Louis Bréa, a painter from Nice, along with a wonderful altar and episcopal throne in white Carrara marble.
  5. Exotic Garden of Monaco.  The Exotic Garden of Monaco has been a unique site since it was opened to the public in 1933. In its prestigious, open-air setting, it brings together a wide variety of “succulent” plants. The plant species represented in this Garden come from several faraway arid zones (hence the name “Exotic”): cacti and agaves come from the south-western United States, Mexico, and Central and South America; the other succulent plants are from southern and eastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
    Monaco Cathedral

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